With the arrival of each new generation of Mustang, there is both anticipation and trepidation. While some can’t wait to saddle up in a cutting-edge pony car, others are hesitant about a change in style. Both are valid, but the order banks opened at the end of March for those champing at the bit to get behind the wheel of the 2024 Mustang.
Having been on both sides of the equation, this author is definitely intrigued by the forthcoming S650stallion. More of an iteration than an innovation, this ride the undeniable S550 foundation and builds a fresh experience, which promises improved performance and technology.
However, if you are like this scribe, you have likely seen people posting about ordering the latest halo machine, the Dark Horse. Certainly, the most potent naturally aspirated Mustang to date is an alluring proposition, but it’s not as if the ’24 Mustang GT is that farbehind it from a power-production standpoint. Likewise, the EcoBoost Mustang, particularly when upfit with the 2.3L High-Performance Package, is a really fun ride that rivals and exceeds some V8 stallions from the past.
With that in mind, we set out to explore the possibilities by navigating through Ford’s Build & Price website for the 2024 Mustang. Beginning with the EcoBoost car and working up to the Dark Horse, this author built three versions of the S650 that would make great additions to an existing pony-car stable.
2024 EcoBoost Premium
If you haven’t ever driven one of these, don’t overlook it purely because of what’s under the hood. We get it, a Mustang a V8 go together like steak and a baked potato, but these cars are actually really fun. And, if you are saddled with a long commute or a spotty driving record, the reduced fuel and insurance costs might justify going for a turbo-four S650.
Since I am more inclined toward eight-cylinder propulsion, I opted to pursea top-level EcoBoost machine laden with option. Sporting the highest output yet, at 315 horsepower and 350 lb-ft of torque, the latest GasTurbo Direct Injection-powered Mustang can be had in base and Premium versions to start. I chose the Premium version to get as many standard goodies right out of the gate. To that foundation, I chased the dream by selecting a litany of options, including the MagneRide Damping System, the Active Valve Performance Exhaust, RECARO Leather-Trimmed Sport Seats, and the Ford Co-Pilot360 Assist upgrade.The latter adds a host of technology upgrades, including adaptive cruise control and lane centering, but it also allowed stepping up tothe 12-speaker B&O audio system.
Of course, the most expensive and feature-laden option on his build is the 2.3L High Performance Package, which adds a huge list of hot rod upgrades highlighted by the Electric Hand-Operated Parking Brake, popularly known as the Drift brake. It also includes summer tires, a Torsen differential, and 19-inch Brembo brakes.
Knowing how fun it was driving the prior Hi-Po EcoBoost Mustang, I have no doubt that this example would be a blast to drive and equipped with the tech extras that would make it a capable commuter as well. Of ourse, a car like this needs a fun look too, so I chose the newYellow Splash Metallic hue, since this ride is throwback to my beloved Chrome Yellow ’98 Mustang Cobra, which only had 305 horsepower from the factory.
Thedownside of throwing the order book at a base Mustang is the price. While the EcoBoost Premium started at just $36,445, but going wild with the options added another $11,100 to the tally and the cartopped out at $49,140.
2024 Mustang GT
It was fun optioning up the EcoBoost, but for my hypothetical 2024 Mustang GT build, I went in a more stripped-down, old-school direction. Thinking of something that would be reasonably attainable and harken back to the 5.0 LX of the Fox heyday, I went with a base Mustang GT with a six-speed manual transmission and added just two options.
While the latest Mustang GT is the most potent yet, sporting power only equaled by the outgoing Bullitt and Mach 1 models at 480 horsepower and 415 lb-ft of torque, adding the right hardware can get even more.There is a simple way to add another six horsepower and three lb-ft of torque and that is by adding the $1,225 Active Valve Performance Exhaust GT, which also lets you customize its sound on the fly.
To make even more use of the highest-output version of the other optionI selected was a big one, but it adds a lot of hardware. The GT Performance Package adds $4,995 to the invoice, but adds a host of upgrades, including the Electric Hand-Operated Parking Brake, 3.73rear gears, and a TORSEN differential, along with a host of chassis and suspension improvements.
Given my affinity for silver cars, Iconic Silver was the natural choice for this streamlined 2024 Mustang GT. Built for speed, it actually came in just barely more expensive than the all-out EcoBoost build at $49,310.
2024 Mustang Dark Horse
Of course, if I were in a position to sign up for a Dark Horse, I would not be holding back like I did with the Mustang GT. The idea here is much like the preshow boast from Kiss Alive II: “You Wanted The Best, You Got The Best…” However, doing so comes at a cost that rivals vehicles that once wore the Shelby name.
Sporting a headlining 500 horsepower and 418 lb-ft of torque from a hotted-up5.0-liter Coyote underhood, the Dark Horse also features the handling upgrades to make the most of that power — after all it will spawn avariety of race-only variations.
Grabber Blue Metallic with Tarnish Dark Low Gloss/Gloss Black with Pattern Stripe
19”X 10.5” (F) 19” X 11” (R) Tarnished Dark-Painted Low Gloss Aluminum Wheels
Dark Horse™ Handling Package $4,500
10-SpeedSelectShift Automatic Transmission $1,595
RECARO®Leather-Trimmed Sport Seats $1,650
Brake Calipers – Grabber Blue with White Logo $495