Home » The 2024 Ford Mustang GT Is The Fast, Agile V8 Coupe You’ve Always Wanted

The 2024 Ford Mustang GT Is The Fast, Agile V8 Coupe You’ve Always Wanted

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“Where are your friends tonight?” It’s a question posed by great American poet James Murphy over keys and drums, a wistful piece of party nostalgia filled with good times and introspection. It’s a damn good question, too. See, we all create our own nostalgia, but mine is interlaced with V8 pony cars and intoxicated off gratuitous wheelspin, the jousting of youth frozen in memories. To me, it doesn’t really matter how luxurious the new 2024 Ford Mustang GT is, or how much tech is in the cabin, partly because I’ve already covered that in my Mustang Ecoboost First Drive, and partly because it’s more about emotion. After all, this could be the last V8-powered Mustang GT ever, so it better improve on its predecessor and tug at our heartstrings all the same. So, does it?

[Full Disclosure: Ford flew me out to Los Angeles and put me up in a nice hotel to drive the 2024 Ford Mustang GT. Yes, this was the exact same trip as the Ecoboost, but it’s coming a day later because embargoes are just like that sometime. No Nerds Rope on this leg of the event, though, but other food instead.]

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We Go Back To Your House

2024 Ford Mustang GT

First, a little self-indulgence on why the 2024 Ford Mustang GT is so significant for me. My childhood best friend is a guy named Amrit. He’s a heavy vehicle apprentice, plays rhythm guitar in a metalcore band, and owns a Terminator-swapped Mercury Marauder boosted to the moon. However, long before he could light up rear tires from 30 mph or play dueling guitars, he and I would play with Hot Wheels cars in primary school until his dad would pick him up in a bright yellow five-liter SN95 Mustang. Sure, it’s not a massively quick car by today’s standards, but it had presence rumbling through the school run line, a shark amid minivans. Several years after selling the SN95, he bought a 1999 Mustang GT, and that was the first car I learned to wrench on. It would’ve been little more than a decade old at the time, but we dropped the tank to do a fuel pump, changed the fluids, and swapped wheels in a tight subdivision garage. For the first time in my life, I was doing more than just holding a flashlight.

Oh, and once that fuel pump was swapped, boy did this car ever go. See, keeping things perfectly stock is a little boring and the previous owner went HAM on the upgrades. I’m talking a Steeda short shifter, subframe connectors, a triangulated tubular strut tower brace, Eibach springs, aftermarket dampers, aftermarket anti-roll bars, a cold air intake and stainless piping, an aftermarket plenum, shorty headers, and a partridge in a freaking pear tree. Stiff, swift, and well-damped, this rock-solid Mustang was a world away from the sensible Toyotas my family had. Keep in mind, the brand new Mustang GT of the time still rocked a 315-horsepower three-valve mod motor, so lightly breathed-on two-valve thrust was still widely considered quick. Even just sitting in the garage after school, shifting the five-speed gearbox felt special, a notchy connection to an unbridled machine. In that moment, I was hooked — the Mustang bug had bitten me in full force. Even at a young age, it’s one thing to love a car because you’ve seen it in the magazines, but it’s another to experience it.

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And So It Starts

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It’s hard to believe that what feels like a short time later, we’re running out of the automotive drugs we’ve grown so accustomed to. Naturally-aspirated response is in short order, as is the gracious presence of the manual gearbox. It doesn’t feel that long ago that you could buy a Lexus or an Infiniti or a BMW with six atmospherically-filled cylinders and a row-your-own option guaranteed for grins. Now everything is multi-speed this and turbocharged that, three-act plays long on morals while short on drama and charisma, assuming there’s a theater at all. The Chevrolet Camaro and Dodge Challenger are on their last legs, so it’s a miracle we’re getting a new Mustang at all, let alone one with a fire-breathing V8.

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So, aside from the presence of a V8, what makes the 2024 Ford Mustang GT special compared to the Ecoboost? Well, let’s get the big one out of the way: It comes standard with a six-speed manual gearbox. Yes, to row your own gears, you’re looking at a starting price of $44,090 including a $1,595 freight charge ($50,695 in Canada). Not a fan of the dual separate infotainment and gauge cluster screens? Step on up to the GT Premium for $48,610 ($56,595 in Canada). Either way, the excellent and comprehensive Performance Package is a $4,995 add-on ($6,500 in Canada), the valved exhaust costs $1,225 ($1,495 in Canada) and unlocks six extra horsepower, and magnetorheological dampers are a $1,795 extra ($2,500 in Canada). If you must choose the ten-speed automatic, expect to pay an extra $1,595 ($1,750 in Canada), and the only V8 drop-top — the GT Premium Convertible — starts at $54,110 ($62,395 in Canada). Not cheap, but not silly money for a 480-horsepower manual coupe either.

2024 Ford Mustang GT

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With pricing out of the way, let’s talk styling. Everything up front save for the fenders and headlamps is unique to the GT model, and all these styling tweaks serve actual functions. Larger grilles in the front bumper direct more air to various heat exchangers, while vents in the hood extract air from the engine compartment, lowering underhood heat and pressure. The GT trim also gets different wheel options from the Ecoboost, standard four-piston front calipers, and GT-specific badges.

2024 Ford Mustang GT

Back to that performance package for a second — what makes it worth $4,995? Well, in addition to tweaked electric power steering, stability control, and ABS calibration, you get a K-brace, a strut tower brace, six-piston Brembo front calipers, four-piston Brembo rear calipers, staggered 19×9-inch and 19×9.5-inch wheels wrapped in Pirelli PZ4 tires, new front springs, new rear dampers, an electronic drift brake, a 3.73:1 axle ratio with a Torsen differential (3.55:1 on automatics), special chassis tuning, front tow hooks, and a glossy black grille. That’s a lot of stuff for the money, especially if you’ve ever priced out a big brake kit.

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Mind you, go-fast goodies aren’t the only option on the new Mustang. During the launch, Ford made great efforts to promote the new infotainment system using claims that Gen Z is used to customizing things through software, a sign that somebody is being paid a lot of money to get things wrong. See, when we customize our cars through software, we’re usually talking about a remap, either to support physical modifications or to simply unlock a little extra power. Hardware is still the key here, and car enthusiasts around my age are generally more interested in wheels, tires, and suspension than they are in ambient lighting or gauge cluster animations. After all, if you’re looking down often in a performance car, you’re doing it wrong. So, is the new 2024 Ford Mustang GT a digital car for a digital age? No. Not really. Instead, it fixes everything I didn’t like about the last Mustang, from the steering to the clutch pedal to the sound. Let’s start with that last one.

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You Switch The Engine On

2024 Ford Mustang GT

Set controls for the heart of the sun, and the fourth-generation Coyote five-liter V8 delivers beautiful naturally aspirated linearity that’s absent in most modern performance cars. Best of all, it no longer sounds like Job For A Cowboy played through a tin can. Depress the clutch pedal, tap the starter switch, and the quad-cam V8 erupts in a slow-breathing Budweiser-and-barroom-brawls rumble, the pulse of every Main Street from Chattanooga to Calabasas. Slide the shifter into first, tear away, and you’ll notice the sound change rapidly. With the raspiness toned down, this 7,500 rpm tenor produces a rageous, focused howl at full pace, scaring birds off power lines and snapping nearby necks. Surging towards redline makes you feel like a child inching higher and higher on a swing set. We all wanted to believe we could loop over the bar, just like you’ll want to believe that the fourth-gen Coyote’s top end is as limitless as Olive Garden breadsticks.

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When it comes time to grab another gear, you’ll likely be satisfied. The previous-generation S550 Mustang GT suffered from a weird, almost compound bow-like clutch pedal whose return spring would catapult your foot toward the bite point. In the S650 Mustang GT, this has been reworked to feel all natural. Likewise, repositioning the Getrag MT-82 manual transmission has led to a brilliant shifter that feels slick and positive, gliding through gates like Swayze on the floor.

You’re Taking 45 Turns Just As Fast As You Can

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The unique steering calibration, revised suspension, GT Performance-specific wheel package, and the extra weight of a V8 up front give leagues more front end tactility than in the Ecoboost. In the heaviest steering setting, you can just barely feel when the front end is approaching its limit, and the available magnetorheological dampers in full Viagra mode are perfectly stiff yet well-damped. Pointing the six-speed Mustang GT down the same ridiculously tight canyon road I drove in the Ecoboost was like shooting fish in a barrel, if the barrel was a shot glass and the gun came from a Warthog. No wonder I saw 12.6 mpg, even if the manual Performance Package car’s official combined rating of 17 mpg (10.2 L/100km) isn’t bad for a five-liter performance car. The automatic scores a tad better at 18 mpg (9.8 L/100km) combined, but when the days of manual gearboxes are numbered, would you really want it?

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Thanks to the digital instrument cluster, hooning the new 2024 Ford Mustang GT presents you with all manner of data. Intake air temperature, oil temperature, oil pressure, all the vital signs you’ll really care about. Despite not being a track-focused model, even while hustling on a 100-degree day, the car stayed cool — mostly. A sensor in the differential told me the axle temperature was north of 240 degrees, which is on the upper end of safe. No wonder the Dark Horse is getting a diff cooler. Still, it’s nice to know components are getting hot before things go wrong, especially given how most modern performance cars wall you out from some metrics that matter.

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When it comes time to slow your roll, the Performance Package’s six-piston front Brembos and semi-metallic pads offer immediate sabretooth bite, like dropping a 20-ton anchor through the tarmac. If the sheer thrust of the naturally-aspirated V8 is enough to get you into trouble, the Performance Package brakes and suspension tuning should be enough to get you out of it.

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2024 Ford Mustang GT

Somewhere around 5,000 rpm at corner exit as you smoothly feed the steering straight while opening the throttle, you hit escape velocity from reality. The rent, the bills, the family stress, none of it really matters in that moment. You forget about life’s worries and revel in the sheer cohesiveness of the car, wheel and pedals interconnected like a 486-horsepower marionette. The unbelievable ease at which you can duck out from the world in the Mustang GT is a fabulous thing. It’s not like a Supra in that you need to be going stupid fast to have fun. The 2024 Ford Mustang GT will still give you joyous, satisfying sensations at the local speed limit without sacrificing refinement, a feeling that you rarely get in say, a BMW M240i.

I Wouldn’t Trade One Stupid Decision

2024 Ford Mustang GT Interior

Gripes? Sure, I have a few. The Mustang’s custom drive mode doesn’t let you choose from an extensive a la carte menu of settings but instead allows a restrictive selection of minor alterations to existing drive modes. Boo. I want heavyweight steering with comfy dampers, a combination that’s currently impossible. However, the Mustang team claimed that the necessary interface work “isn’t done yet” and seemed accepting of the idea of pushing out a full unlock in an over-the-air update. Might I suggest the driving mode name Custom Unleashed?

In addition to mode-based frustration, the optional Recaro seats are well-bolstered yet completely devoid of upper back support and therefore less comfortable than getting hit by a flying brick. This wouldn’t be bad if the standard seats had good lateral support, but I found the limits of those bolsters sooner than the limits of the 220-treadwear Pirellis. Oh, and the default gauge cluster layout in sport mode is borderline unusable. Gauges should be circular, thank you very much. Still, if that’s all I can complain about, that’s not bad.

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This Could Be The Last Time

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Even taking minor quibbles into account, the 2024 Ford Mustang GT is the best Mustang GT yet. Effortlessly quick, incredibly easy to live with, and completely devoid of truly serious vices. The rough edges of America’s pony car have been polished off, much like the personal growth we undergo as we age. After all, my childhood best friend whose dad had all the cool Mustangs? He still has his Fords, but he also got into BMWs. The new Mustang GT isn’t about borrowed ‘80s nostalgia or chest-thumping frat bro testosterone, it’s about growing up while staying true to who you are — the definition of a mature product. From the Fox Body cluster theme to the ‘60s-influenced grille, it feels secure with itself, its past, and its present.

Where Are Your Friends Tonight?

2024 Ford Mustang GT

The Mustang Ecoboost is a car you can learn to love. The Mustang GT is a car you were born to love. It’s your favorite record played through the latest megawatt hi-fi, a scintillating performance of passion and technical expertise. Every piano note, every cymbal, every vocal inflection is exactly how you remember, just clearer than it’s ever been before, like looking into the waters of Banff for the first time. It brings the highest highs and lowest lows, a mesmerizing drive and a deep lump in your stomach that comes from knowing this is likely the last generation of Mustang as we know it. As I pulled off to collect my thoughts at the end of the canyon, I combed through the pricing to learn that my ideal Mustang stickers for $60,095 Canadian. Could I possibly, maybe just comb through the couch cushions and scrape up enough to put in an order? It would be recklessly irresponsible and potentially catastrophic from a financial standpoint, but who wouldn’t want to throw a party at the end of the world? I don’t know where my friends will be tomorrow, but tonight, they’re in my heart, dancing and laughing and imbibing old-fashioned horsepower until the sun comes up. Thanks, Mustang GT. For everything you’ve always been, and the glorious sports coupe you’ve become. Long may you run.

(Photo credits: Thomas Hundal)

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Pedro
Pedro
10 months ago

Charmless and gormless. IMO. How hard can it be when you are riffing on your own genre?

Austin Vail
Austin Vail
10 months ago

Somehow more than any other Mustang, this inexplicably feels like someone took everything kid me loved about cars and distilled it into the rawest definition of a cool car. Like, I look at this and I see a real-life Hot Wheels car that escaped the confines of its orange plastic track. I can feel my inner child’s heart beating faster just looking at it. Who knows what the future will bring, but if I can ever afford a new car… this looks like the most exciting option.

Seriously this looks like it drove straight out of the old Acceleracers cartoon!!!!

Last edited 10 months ago by Austin Vail
Mr E
Mr E
10 months ago

Apologies if I sound a tad old-fashioned (and I fully understand the need to keep a product fresh in order to keep sales elevated), but I was hoping instead of throwing a bunch of (admittedly kinda cool but ultimately somewhat unnecessary) tech at the car, Ford would’ve seen fit to put the Tremec in all manual GTs instead. I absolutely love everything about my ’22 GT (especially the ‘angry trombone’ exhaust at WOT) except the MT82. Interestingly, the clutch in my car doesn’t exhibit the pedal feel referenced in this wonderfully-written article. Am I lucky?

Bizness Comma Nunya
Bizness Comma Nunya
10 months ago

Love a good LCD Soundsystem reference

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