There's a lot riding on the shoulders of the next Ford Mustang, due to arrive in the USA by the end of 2022.
For starters, it must carry on the pony car legacy of the six generations that came before it, at a time when performance cars are under increasing threat from emissions regulations.
Then there's the role it will play as one of the few remaining passenger cars in the blue oval's SUV and ute dominated line-up. Ford Australia is especially reliant on the Mustang's sales to prop up the rest of the non-Ranger offerings.
And finally, it must be ready to race – as the face of Ford in the new Gen3 Supercar era.
So here's what you can expect from the all-new ‘Stang before it arrives in Australia sometime in 2023.
According to the latest reports from the US, the next-gen Mustang will be forced to utilise all-new underpinnings in the form of the ‘CD6' platform Ford uses for the Explorer SUV. Why base a sports car on an SUV, you ask? Simple, it's the closest thing Ford USA has to a performance car left in its arsenal.
The CD6 platform uses a longitudinal engine configuration with rear-wheel drive, as well as the option of both all-wheel drive and electrification. That means it will not only be capable of providing the same RWD thrills we currently know and love, but also has potential to expand its capabilities to meet changing market demands.
That's especially important because the new Mustang – codenamed S650 – is expected to run for eight years. That means it will still need to be relevant and competitive in 2030, by which time electrification is expected to be commonplace.
More engine options
Speaking of electrification according to rumours in the US, the new model could be headlined by an all-wheel drive, V8 hybrid to help lead the Mustang into the future. That powertrain would most likely feature the 5.0-litre V8 ‘Coyote' powering the rear-wheels while a pair of electric motors power the front axle.
But purists need not be alarmed. The 5.0-litre V8 is expected to remain an option on its own, along with the 2.3-litre EcoBoost four-cylinder turbo as well as the new 3.5-litre EcoBoost V6 turbo, that's not currently offered in Australia.
The six-speed manual is also thought to be safe, in more good news for traditionalists, while the 10-speed automatic available in the current car will carry over to the new model.
Ford learnt the hard way in the 1980s and ‘90s that the key to the Mustang's success is looking like the ‘60s original. The retro styling of the current model has helped make it a desirable sports coupe around the world, so retaining a connection to the ‘60s Fastback while including some contemporary elements will be the key to ensuring its sustained success.
Ford may have given us a glimpse of what we can expect with the “Progressive Energy in Strength” sculpture it unveiled at the 2020 Bejing Motor Show. While not officially linked to the Mustang it clearly has some design cues from the pony car but in a modern form.
Regardless, don't expect a revolutionary design for the new model, Ford learnt its lesson with the Fox Body ‘Stang…