Ford has come out swinging with the Dark Horse, the highest-performing variant of its Mustang GT line for 2024. The track-ready pony car gets more power, a firmer chassis, lighter wheels and sticky Trofeo RS tires, aerodynamic improvements, and even a better Tremec manual gearbox.
That last point alone should give you pause. It’s hard enough to get manufacturers to put a manual transmission in a car these days—how many OEMs can you think of that offer two different manuals for the same car? The Porsche 911 is the only other one I can think of, and those start at over $110,000 for the seven-speed Carrera T (also a PCOTY contender) and over $200,000 for the GT3 if you want the six-speed.
On the track, the Dark Horse is an absolute delight. The thunderous roar of the engine near redline can be heard all the way in the paddock from the far corners of the circuit. The turn-in is sharp and precise, owed strongly to 305-section front tires with adjustable camber. The giant Brembo brakes have the power to tear your retinas. And you don’t notice the fact that it’s, frankly, enormous, which becomes readily apparent once you get to the street. But make sure you check the option box for Recaro seats, as the Pirelli tires can hold about double the G-Force that these base Barca loungers can.
This may be the most expensive non-Shelby Mustang of all time at $71,555 as tested, but its lap time shows Ford’s really brought the goods, and the body control, adjustable shocks, and tech features make it well-rounded enough to be used as a daily driver in warm climates. There’s so much to like here, and so much speed. We loved having it at Performance Car of the Year 2024.
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