NAIAS 2022: Seventh-Generation of Ford Mustang Is Highest Performer Yet
The 2024 Mustang pushes more ICE power and aero-attributes than prior versions.
The exterior visuals still emphasize a long hood and a short deck, but the V8-powered 2024 Mustang GT’s mammoth air intakes are a telltale that things have powerfully changed. “When you open the hood and see the dual air induction system on this fourth-generation naturally aspirated Coyote [V8] engine, there will be no mistake that you are looking at the seventh-generation Mustang,” said Eddie Khan, the Mustang’s vehicle engineering manager. The car’s dual throttle body and air-induction system is a segment-first application.
Khan and other Ford design and technology specialists were interviewed by SAE Media prior to the iconic sports car’s global debut on September 14 at the 2022 North American International Auto Show in Detroit. While the 2024 car’s track and other dimensions are essentially unchanged from the current ponycar, the next-generation model boasts improved aerodynamics, stiffer steering, more power and a cabin infused with new-to-Mustang technologies.
The Mustang’s next-generation engines (2.3-L turbocharged 4-cylinder EcoBoost and the Coyote 5.0-L V8) feature various technology upgrades. The V8 replaces the prior composite oil pan with a steel pan. Changes for the 2.3-L include a new left-side exhaust manifold, a new twin-scroll, low-inertia turbocharger with electronic wastegate, and revised camshaft timing. “There are also updates to the inside of the engine to ensure that we deliver more performance,” said Khan. While no hp or torque numbers for the 2024 car are yet being released, the 2022 Mustang GT V8 produces SAE-certified 450 hp at 7,500 rpm and 420 lb-ft (569 Nm) at 4,600 rpm.
The EcoBoost engine now uses a dual fuel-injection system (port fuel injection combined with 350-bar [5076-psi] direct injection) instead of direct-injection only. “We made the change to enable fuel efficiency, improved emissions and performance. But certification isn’t complete, so we’re not sharing those numbers yet,” said Khan. To replace the prior airbox-on-the-side configuration, the new engine has an integrated air-induction system designed for better underhood space utilization. The engine’s variable cam timing also differs from the predecessor.
A Getrag 6-speed manual transmission and a Tremec 10-speed automatic transmission with SelectShift remain as the V8’s transmission choices, while the EcoBoost still mates only to the 10-speed automatic. The 10-speed’s new controls improve the drivability experience, according to Khan. “For example, in the sport mode, the new control system means improved shift scheduling, shift predictability and speed as it relates to the duration of the shifts,” Khan said.
The 7th generation Mustang’s aerodynamics and downforce garnered significant attention from engineers and the exterior design team. “You want to make sure the airflow stays with the profile of the car,” said Khan. With the exception of the roof, all body panels are new for the 2024 model. The Mustang GT’s front-end air vent on the driver’s side is functional, but the passenger-side air vent is blocked for lift and drag benefits. The EcoBoost-powered Mustang has blocked lower vents on both the right and left sides.
The Mustang GT also sports new hood vents and a redesigned front splitter. New underbody panels also are part of the aero upgrade. “We are still working to complete our aerodynamic testing, so that’s why we’re not disclosing the Cd numbers yet,” Khan said. He stressed that the new-generation Mustang will have the lowest Cd and highest downforce numbers in the sports car’s storied history.
Steering-related alterations include a new steering rack, faster steering ratio, stiffer cross-car beam, a splined intermediate shaft, removal of intermediate shaft isolator and an upper intermediate shaft that’s roughly three times stiffer than the prior steering system setup. “For people who drove the Mustang prototype, they expressed how fun-to-drive the car is,” Khan said, adding, “This car is so much more nimble, especially when you’re going around curvy turns.”
Mustang’s driver-assist technologies via Ford Co-Pilot360 include speed-sign recognition, intelligent adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go, lane-centering assist, and evasive steer assist. Active pothole mitigation, included with the Performance Package, continually monitors suspension, body, steering and braking input to adjust the suspension response.
Contemporary cabin tech
In the driver’s side of the cockpit, interior restyling emphasizes a 12.4-in (315-mm) flatscreen gauge cluster and 13.2-in (335-mm) center-stack touchscreen. On Premium and higher trim grades, the screens seemingly appear as a continuous display. “This is the most technically advanced interior for Mustang to date,” said Ricardo Garcia, Mustang’s interior design manager. The center screen provides a control interface for Sync 4 infotainment, including audio and climate, with customizable configurations. Other interior features include a segment-first electronic drift brake, part of the Performance Package. The electronic drift brake facilitates drifting capability while retaining the look and functionality of a traditional mechanical hand brake.
From a fit-and-finish perspective, the instrument panel, gear-shift trim, steering wheel accents, door panel trim and audio speaker grilles have a carbon fiber-like appearance. “We’ve never done as much laser graining as we have with this vehicle,” said Carrie Kennelly, senior color materials designer. The laser-cutting method enabled a seamless overall material presentation. “Design quality’s job is to make all of these different plastics and textures have the exact same gloss, grain and appearance,” Kennelly said.
Pricing for the 2024 Mustang will be announced at a later date. The seventh-generation sports car is slated to start production in 2023 at the Flat Rock Assembly Plant in Flat Rock, Michigan.