There’s a new pony in the Mustang’s stable. Along with the new 2024 Mustang GT and EcoBoost, Ford dropped a surprise on us last night in Detroit. A newcomer: The Dark Horse, with badass looks and performance to back up the name.
The street-legal Dark Horse will also provide the basis for two track-only Mustang variants: The Dark Horse S and Dark Horse R, which are cool enough to get their own article that you can read here.
The 5.0-liter Coyote V8 is turned up to 11, and so is just about everything else. Final power numbers haven’t been released just yet, but Ford tells us to expect 500 ponies under the hood. Manual transmission lovers can also rejoice: The Dark Horse comes standard with a Tremec six-speed stick. If that’s not really your style, you can always spring for the 10-speed automatic.
“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,” Ed Krenz, Ford Mustang chief nameplate engineer, said about the new car in a press release.
While Dark Horse buyers won’t get the screaming 5.2-liter Voodoo engine, the 5.0 has a few tricks up its sleeve in this application. The engine will get connecting rods and other forged internals from the Shelby GT500, plus dual throttle bodies to help the machine breathe a bit better. It also comes with an auxiliary engine cooler, a rear axle cooler and a lightweight radiator.
The Tremec gearbox connects to the driver through a 3D-printed titanium shift ball, and it’s got an oil cooler attached to it. Power at the rear end goes through a Torsen limited-slip differential.
The name of the game for the Dark Horse is hitting the track. Ford takes that track-focused mission so far, for the first time ever Ford will offer carbon-fiber wheels from Carbon Revolution on a non-Shelby Mustang.
Stopping power comes courtesy of big ol’ six-piston Brembo brakes gripping 13.9-inch rotors up front, with dedicated cooling ducts. The Dark Horse comes standard with Pirelli P Zeros on staggered 19 x 9.5-inch front and 19 x 10-inch rear wheels.
As you may have guessed, the Dark Horse gets unique chassis tuning, including bigger sway bars and heavy-duty front shocks, according to Ford. There’s also a new lightweight strut tower brace and K-brace. The Dark Horse rides on standard MagneRide adaptive dampers so you can really dial in the type of suspension stiffness you’re looking for, depending on drive mode.
If all that wasn’t quite enough for you, there’s also an optional Handling Package that takes aero up another notch. Ford says this package provides more downforce than any previous Mustang, courtesy of a unique rear wing with an integrated Gurney Flap. If you opt for the package, you’ll also get stiffer springer, larger front and rear sway bars and beefier 19 x 10.5-inch front and 19 x 11-inch rear wheels.
The Dark Horse’s interior is not drastically different from the new Mustang’s already handsome design, but there are certainly some changes. It’s got a thicker, flat-bottom steering wheel wrapped in suede with Bright Indigo Blue accent stitching. If you select the 10-speed automatic, you’ll get anodized silver shift paddles and a driver mode button within thumb reach.
The Dark Horse Appearance Pack also adds Deep Indigo Blue seats (blue seats are always good) with a unique perforation pattern. There’s also going to be all sorts of blue contrast stitching around the interior, and the silver accents are replaced by glossy black.
The Dark Horse doesn’t strip away all the luxury of the standard car either. You still get big ol’ touchscreens and a 13-speaker B&O stereo system.
I’ll just say it right off the bat — the Dark Horse looks excellent. I like the overall look of the new Mustang, and this, like everything else on the car, takes it up a notch.
“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,” Joel Piaskowski, global director of Ford Design, said in Ford’s press release. “The visual changes, both inside and out, message that Dark Horse has a directed performance focus.”
Some of the changes up front include darkened headlights sitting in a matte black surround. Dark Horse also comes with a gloss black grille and a unique lower front bumper with high-gloss “fangs” — a thing horses are known for having. Other aero features include lower side skirts, a fixed rear wing, a new diffuser and darker quad exhaust tips.
To go along with all this, there’s a new logo as well — a menacing-looking horse that is staring right at you. I like it. Is it a little goofy? Hell yeah, but that’s okay!
In a word, the unique paint color of the Dark Horse is gorgeous. Ford calls it Blue Ember metallic. It’s really just a lovely look. It’s the ideal amount of blue. You can also get applied or painted graphics along the roof and hood if you are a doofus who wants to cover up the gorgeous Blue Ember color. If you spring for the Appearance Package you’ll also get dark Notorious Blue Brembo brake calipers with brighter Grabber Blue logos to make them stand out.
Right now, there’s no word on how much this bad boy will cost. It’s a new era for the Mustang, and Ford is certainly starting it with a splash.