The Dodge Challenger is going electric and the Chevrolet Camaro is reportedly on borrowed time, so Ford has gone in search of new rivals with an all-new addition to the Mustang range.
The Mustang Dark Horse was revealed in Detroit alongside the GT and EcoBoost models in the seventh-generation range. And that’s not all, because Ford has also confirmed and teased not one, but two track-only versions of this new model – the Dark Horse R and Dark Horse S.
Effectively replacing the Mach 1 in the line-up, this new model has been designed as the ultimate Mustang for road and track use (excluding the Shelby models) and is targeting “premium brands” from around the world. That’s according to Ford Motor Company CEO, Jim Farley, who made it clear he believes the Dark Horse will live up to its name in competition with more prestigious and expensive rivals.
“For decades, Mustang has competed against the most premium brands on the greatest world stages and won,” Farley said. “We surprised everyone, and we’re going to surprise them again with a track-capable Mustang that puts a new level of performance, styling and American engineering in the hands of everyday customers who still want the thrill and excitement of a V8 sports car.”
According to Ed Krenz, chief nameplate engineer for the Mustang, every key element of the Dark Horse was improved to ensure it lived up to the company’s claims.
“We’ve taken the all-new Mustang, the best of our new 5.0-liter V8 performance, and added power, improved the aero, tires, steering and provided an interactive cockpit to create a Mustang that goes beyond any 5.0-liter Mustang before it,” Krenz explained.
These upgrades include the most powerful version yet of the 5.0-litre V8 ‘Coyote’ engine, which Ford says it’s targeting a 372kW (500hp) output. There’s also a Tremec six-speed manual gearbox (which is shared with the Shelby GT350 and GT500) and MagnaRide adaptive suspension.
Ford has also transferred other elements from the Mach 1 program, specifically the additional cooling requirements needed for more longevity during track use. These changes include brake cooling NACA ducts, an auxiliary engine oil cooler, a rear axle cooler and a unique radiator design
There are some styling changes, including an all-new badge design that features a forward facing horse for the first time in the 59 years of the Mustang model. The company called it “aggressive” and “sinister” to mark the new model’s focus on beating the competition.
“It’s more than a new name. Dark Horse brings a new design language to Mustang that is refined yet perfectly suited to its dual purpose of street and track performance,” said Joel Piaskowski, Ford Design’s global director, about the new logo.
“The visual changes, both inside and out, message that Dark Horse has a directed performance focus. The mechanical changes reinforce the purpose of Dark Horse, providing the driver with increased confidence and competence.”
The best news for Australian fans is the local operation has confirmed the Dark Horse will be offered locally alongside the GT and EcoBoost. No timing, pricing or specifications have been confirmed for the Dark Horse, but will be revealed closer to its local launch.
On the racing side, Ford Performance boss Mark Rushbrook confirmed that there will be a pair of Dark Horse track cars aimed at different audiences. The Mustang Dark Horse S will be a track day only car for owners who want to take their circuit driving to the next level without a proper race car.
The second will be the Dark Horse R, which Rushbrook said would be eligible for American grassroots SCCA competitions.
There’s no word yet if either track car will be offered locally, but the Mustang reveal did include our first look at what to expect from the Gen3 Ford Mustang.