Chris Walter grinned. “We are looking,” he said, “to capture a new Mustang buyer.”
Walter, middle-aged and fit, is the Mustang’s exterior design chief. He looks like a cross between Chris Martin of Coldplay and the retired British Formula 1 driver Jenson Button, and he was speaking to a group of journalists at the 2024 Ford Mustang’s media launch in California. Generally chipper and friendly, he is hard to dislike, and his team does nice work.
Listening to him speak in the Pasadena heat, we wondered about the GT’s new screen. Perhaps you have seen it: a rectangular piece of glass consuming roughly half of the dash, plopped between vents like a hat on a hat. Since the mid-1960s, when the model was new, Mustang interiors have traditionally been designed with a bit of restraint. Old Mustangs had dashboards that resembled a good pocketknife, simple and purposeful with bits of tidy icing. Same for the outgoing S550-generation Mustang, which served from model years 2015 to 2023. What’s happening?
Good things, it turns out. Plus an acre of pixels. But mostly good things.
Ford makes just one car these days, and this is it. Everything else in the lineup is a truck or an SUV. The new Mustang, dubbed S650, is the model’s seventh generation, essentially that 2015–23 platform plus moderate cosmetic and mechanical updates. The GT badge, traditionally the Mustang’s happiest balance of speed and price, gets a fourth-generation version of Ford’s Coyote 5.0-liter V-8.
2024 Mustang GT Mechanical Updates
For many people, the Mustang is the reason for the horse-car season. That naturally aspirated 32-valve 5.0-liter under the hood for 2024 is a light refresh of last year’s engine, nudged here and there to reduce friction, increase efficiency, and bump output. Where the old GT engine had one throttle body, this one gets two; the oil pan, exhaust cams, and left-side exhaust manifold are also new.
The result is 480 horsepower at 7150 rpm and 415 lb-ft of torque at 4900 rpm. Those numbers are up from 450 horses at 7000 rpm and 410 lb-ft at 4600. There’s also a feisty bark-burble on startup. Choose the optional active-valve exhaust ($1225), which was fitted to our car, and output rises to 486 horsepower at 7250 rpm and 418 lb-ft at 4900. As with the outgoing GT, redline is 7500 rpm regardless of muffler choice. The standard six-speed manual and optional 10-speed automatic also carry over.
Underneath lies mild massaging. The electronically assisted power-steering ratio has been quickened slightly, from 16.0:1 to 15.5:1, and its control software has been reworked in the interest of improved feel. The body has been stiffened in critical places. The brakes are now electronically boosted, replacing the old vacuum setup.
2024 Mustang GT Interior and Exterior Design
Inside, the classic dual-brow dash is gone. That long rectangular display is really two displays under one piece of glass: a 12.4-inch screen for the instrument cluster and a 13.2-inch touchscreen for most cockpit functions and features, from climate to stereo to launch control. It gathers finger gunge quickly but offers a mostly intuitive interface.
The new styling, naturally, resembles but does not lockstep mirror the old. Ford says that externally, the three variants in the Mustang line—the four-cylinder EcoBoost, the GT, and the coming track-focused Dark Horse—share little more than headlamps. The panels are basically smoothed and clarified S550 pieces, dotted with tasteful hints of older Mustangs: the newly emphasized hips, the hood extractor vents and more aggressive grille openings on the GT and Dark Horse, the notch-shaped “bent” panel between the taillights.
The last part is a neat touch, shadow-bound in all but direct light, helping the car look longer and lower. The new grille opening and underbody panels help reduce drag. The sum package looks nice in pictures and better in person, and the more you look at the fishlike nose, the less fishy it seems. Which may sound like damning with faint praise, but is really just proof that the human brain can adapt to anything and will take any oppor-tuna-ty to anthropomorphize the face of a new automobile. (Forgive us; your author is a sleep-deprived father of young children and by law must make a certain number of bad puns every year.)
Driving the 2024 Mustang GT
We met the car in the form of a Performance-pack, manual-gearbox GT, Vapor Blue Metallic, a whopping $60,755 as equipped. Critical options included Pirelli P Zero PZ4s, MagneRide active dampers ($1750), a 12-speaker Bang & Olufsen sound system with a trunk-mounted subwoofer (part of the $2900 Premium package, this adequate system far better than the base offering, if a bit flabby in the mids and bass), and the GT Performance pack (for $4995, it includes more aggressive suspension, a 3.73 Torsen limited-slip differential, wider wheels and tires, and the list goes on). Brembo brakes, part of the Performance pack, have a nice feel and are easily modulated right up to ABS engagement.
The previous GT was gobs of fun to commute in or hammer on, and this machine is slightly sharper. Without driving the two cars back to back, we’d say that steering feel and feedback seem slightly improved. As with the 2024 EcoBoost Mustang we tried earlier, the electronic brake booster seemed to make walking-pace braking a bit grabby and digital, but the brakes are otherwise a charm. MagneRide works wonders regardless of chassis mode, as magnetorheological dampers are wont to do, sopping up pavement heaves and expansion-joint smacks while helping produce good grip and agility. (With those modes, avoid Normal or Track on a back road; compared with Sport, both trade body motion for pace and response, albeit in opposite ways.) As with all generations of Coyote, the engine sounds deep and burbly down low, nice but not great for a V-8 of this size and character, rising to a less pleasant, hammering rasp at the top of the tach.
If you cannot have fun in a car like this, you may not know what fun is. Few differentials are as nice and progressive on the road as a Torsen. Torque is stout in the midrange, tapering noticeably above 6500, falling off even more noticeably above 7000, most useful and satisfying in the middle of the tach. Sixty mph is available in second gear, and third is a joy on a back road, if often illegal. On that last point, we say who cares, it’s a new Mustang, it’s part of the American fabric, you only live once, Car and Driver does not encourage or endorse lawbreaking, but really, if you are alive and breathing, sometimes the rules are best left for colonoscopies and filing your taxes.
A brief aside on that gearbox: The manual transmission is a version of the Getrag six-speed offered in various Mustang models for more than a decade. When new, it is a pleasure to shift, with a cleanly defined pattern and chunky action. Mustang heads will tell you this transmission has long been maligned for its fragility and lack of cooling, and that there is an ongoing class-action suit over some of those problems. Five will get you ten, and this is at least tangentially tied to why the coming Dark Horse will be fitted with the relatively durable Tremec TR-3160 six-speed manual.
Do we wish a Tremec were fitted to the basic GT? Yes. Does Ford’s choice here seem odd, especially given how many V-8 Mustangs of yore wore wonderful, solid Tremecs and that V-8 Camaros have done the same for years? Of course. Did our low-mile test car make a bit of bearing-like noise if you leaned on the shifter slightly during an upshift to second? Sure. But at least there is the Dark Horse, which means someone somewhere is listening.
If you buy a new manual GT—and anyone with a pulse should consider it—we would only suggest that you shift with fingers instead of fist, and that you pretend the gearbox innards are built dense but soft, like a Burger King Croissan’wich.
A minor note, in all. What we have here is a V-8-powered, rear-drive, attractive new Mustang in the classic style, nicely updated. It is a big and good giggle to drive in any fashion, from tame commute to kill them tires dead. It’s still a bargain for what you get, it feels more special than the spec sheet would imply, and, wonder of wonders, it can still be had with a clutch pedal.
This is a driver’s car, simple and sane, the kind we have long loved. It may not be all-new or perfect, but, like so many Mustangs before, it wants you there, needs you there, and demands you pay attention while simultaneously refusing to be a pain in the ass. These days, as ever, that’s a gift.
2024 Ford Mustang GT
Vehicle Type: front-engine, rear-wheel-drive, 4-passenger, 2-door coupe or convertible
Base: Fastback, $43,090; Premium Fastback, $47,610; Premium Convertible, $53,110
DOHC 32-valve V-8, aluminum block and heads, port and direct fuel injection
Displacement: 307 in3, 5038 cm3
Power: 480 or 486 hp @ 7150 or 7250 rpm
Torque: 415 or 418 lb-ft @ 4900 rpm
6-speed manual, 10-speed automatic
Wheelbase: 107.0 in
Length: 189.4 in
Width: 75.4 in
Height: 54.8–55.0 in
Passenger Volume, F/R: 55/27–30 ft3
Trunk Volume: 10–13 ft3
Curb Weight (C/D est): 3900–4100 lb
PERFORMANCE (C/D EST)
60 mph: 3.8–4.3 sec
100 mph: 8.3–8.7 sec
1/4-Mile: 11.9–12.3 sec
Top Speed: 145–155 mph
EPA FUEL ECONOMY (C/D EST)
Combined/City/Highway: 17–18/14–15/22–24 mpg
Sam Smith is a freelance journalist and former executive editor at Road & Track. His writing has appeared in Esquire and the New York Times, and he once drove a Japanese Dajiban around a track at speed while being purposely deafened by a recording of Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off.” He lives in Tennessee with his family, a small collection of misfit vehicles, and a spaniel who is scared of squirrels.