2024 Ford Mustang First Drive Review

Faster, louder, and ready for the digital age.

By Dan Heyman Wheels.ca

Jul 25, 2023 5 min. read

Article was updated 2 months ago

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Pasadena, CA -- The 2024 model year is a big one for the Ford Mustang, as it represents both the debut of the new seventh-generation model as well as the car’s 60th anniversary, making it one of the longest-running nameplates in the automotive world.

This has led to legions of fans – according to the Blue Oval, there are Mustang clubs on every continent except Antarctica – who can be pretty specific about what they want changed, what they don’t, or what they want to be able to pick for themselves and so on.

Which is why they would appreciate the fact that the rear fascia gets a crease between its upper and lower third, as that recalls the ’67 fastback. They would also appreciate the “Fox Body ’87-‘93” digital gauge cluster option – one of five -- that even glows green at night.

2024 Ford Mustang

2024 Ford Mustang

Ah, yes – the digital gauge cluster. Not only is it digitized, but the entire dash is now two separate frameless displays, and that’s pretty much where it ends; there are no longer any supplementary gauges or vents atop the centre stack, and the gauge display is no longer deeply recessed. The dual displays are crisp and the customization is neat, but there was just something so cool and pure about how it used to look. It was a Mustang signature, that dash, and now that it’s gone so has some of the interior personality. Credit to Ford, however, for keeping the great short-throw shifter on manual cars and for including a flat-bottom steering wheel.

Styling upgrades include 12 new wheel styles, a completely redesigned front fascia, more muscular haunches, and a larger decklid spoiler. And yes, the three-bar taillamps still get sequential turn signals. Two new colours – Yellow Splash and Vapor Blue – join returning favourites like Race Red and Oxford White, and if you want to take things further in the styling department, a Bronze package adds rim colours and badges to fit the name.

2024 Ford Mustang

Of course, regardless of any complaints regarding the more digitized interior, once you sit in either of the two available seat styles – standard, or the more supportive Recaro seats – it’s all good, as long as that proud, long hood fills the windscreen.

The V8 model gets a set of heat extractors on the leading edge of its hood, the Ecoboost doesn’t. The seating position is right on and even though the Mustang is not a small car, all the controls are nicely within reach, including the manual handbrake on models equipped with the $6,500 Performance Package. That also gets you special summer performance tires, a Torsen limited-slip dif, a front strut tower brace, and Brembo brakes with six-piston calipers up front. That package also gives you the ability to spec the magnetic ride suspension which is well worth it, but at $2,500 it’s a shame it doesn’t come equipped as standard with the Performance Package.

2024 Ford Mustang

Ford is calling that special e-brake a “drift brake”, and it’s developed in partnership with Vaughn Gittin Jr’s RTR drift team. There’s no ratcheting when you use it, which has it feeling more like a motorcycle handbrake and it really does work; turn in, yank it and feel as that rear end swivels, ready to be controlled on the throttle. It’s darn fun and joins other “easter egg”-type stuff like a new remote rev feature, which allows you to remotely start – and rev – models equipped with the 10-speed auto ‘box.

Otherwise, the drive feels tauter and more responsive than previous. We started in the EcoBoost model, which makes 315 horsepower and 350 pound-feet of torque, compared to 480 and 415 in the GT (486/418 if you spec active valve exhaust). Power comes on after getting through a hint of turbo lag but once done, forward progress is befitting of a Mustang. The Ecoboost’s powertrain mostly delivers, but it’s a shame they’ve killed a manual transmission option for the four-cylinder.

Indeed, to get one of those you have to opt for a GT, where the stick shift is – huzzah! – standard. The clutch take-up is right on, as is the shift linkage; it's a pleasure to row the gearbox.

2024 Ford Mustang

Indeed, this is a Mustang and you want the power but you want your sports car to deliver the goods on the handling front as well. Ford has improved things by strengthening the steering column, quickening the steering ratio, and adjusting the bushings for a firmer, more responsive drive. Switching to the convertible, meanwhile, doesn’t have quite the same softening effect that lopping the top often does, which I was pleased to discover.

The Performance Pack does cost a pretty penny, but it does make its presence felt, especially on the small autocross track we spent a handful of laps on. The better brake response is easily felt, while the grip provided by the stickier tires is noticeable, providing traction where the all-season items would chirp away.

2024 Ford Mustang

The question, of course, is whether or not the Ecoboost’s performance reflects the fact that it costs about 10 grand less to get into than the GT. 3

For “maximum Mustang”, though, you need to go with the GT. Even with that $10,000 premium over the Ecoboost, it can still be had for less than 50 grand.

Fans will unite at the fact this new Mustang has kept the vibe of the generation before it, the one before that, and on and on we go. It’s got the looks, the power, and the handling – enough that I can even come around on the digitized dash. For the most part.

2024 Ford Mustang

BODY STYLE: Two door performance fastback coupe or convertible

DRIVE METHOD: front-engine/rear-wheel drive
ENGINE: 2.3-litre turbo four-cylinder, 315 hp, 350 lb-ft of torque or 5.0L V8, 480 hp, 486 lb-ft

TRANSMISSION: 10-speed automatic or six-speed manual (GT only)

Cargo Room: 376 Litres (fastback coupe), 291 L (convertible)

Base MSRP: $37,000 (four-cylinder), $48,500 (V8)

WEBSITE: Ford Mustang


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