tire stickers

The Mustang Dark Horse: It’s wicked, it’s unruly, it’s the last pony standing… and the steering kinda stinks. 

The allure of the modern Mustang…

We’re in a time where modern technology has filled in the gaps of human skill & mastery. And honestly – it’s killed the true sport in most new sports cars. Taken a lot of the charisma out of them. Because often times, the traits that made iconic performance cars so iconic… were their flaws. Flaws are what gave them intrigue. Take the legendary American pony cars for example. Their very legacy… is in their untamed, unleashed, wild nature. Just watch a vintage Trans Am race.

The newest S650 Mustang carries-on the legend, with the Dark Horse as a prized pony. Look around – Mustang is one of the last defiant, unapologetic new cars you can buy. It’s authentic. Yes, the Mustang has evolved over the years… but it’s still far, far, far from obedient. Here’s were it gets complicated though…

Dark Horse vapor blue

Dark Horse rear

Technology has multiple forms…

Mechanical technology is working in the S650 Mustang’s evolutionary favor. IRS, limited slip, and pouring-on horsepower… those are great things that keep modern Mustangs enticing. With electronic technology however, there is a fine line. For example, something feels off with the electronic steering in this S650 Dark Horse. It’s not real. You cannot feel the tires in the steering wheel – at all. There’s no communication there. Any sense of steering ‘physicality’ is totally simulated… like an Xbox steering wheel. The result is: It’s just comes across as too damn sensitive & twitchy. And in my humble opinion, it doesn’t pair well with 500hp.

Dark Horse review

Dark Horse interior

tire stickers

The dash is another electronically-rooted point of contention for Mustang lovers.

And after driving the Mustang Dark Horse for week, I don’t hate it… but I also don’t love it. I don’t think the dual-monitor-like screens destroy the legacy of the Mustang. Hell Ford already did that with the Mach E lol. And overall, I think Ford did a pretty good job making necessary tech updates to the Mustang’s dash. It’s got all the screens that (typical) modern car buyers crave… while still retaining the authentic cockpit nature of a Mustang. Personally, I do miss the hands-on, physically-reenforcing toggle switches of the previous S550 Mustang. I think that gave it a little more of a ‘muscle’ experience. But, I also understand that Ford’s gotta move with the trends here… the Mustang is a mass-market car after all. 

S650 Interior screen

S650 dark horse

Import Alliance car show

Performance-wise the Mustang Dark Horse nails it… 

There’s just something about ripping gears in a manual V8 Mustang that’s unlike anything else. It’s timeless, you feel like you’re part of something. There’s an intoxicating element of danger & focus required. The anticipation of snatching that next gear, the physicality of it, the squat of torque when you release the clutch, and the immediate onslaught of pure American thunder. 3rd gear feels like another 2nd gear… it just keeps devouring. There’s just nothing like it. The Mustang Dark Horse is not the sharpest scalpel on the new sports car market. Aside from straight-line acceleration, the Civic Type-R (for example) will do a lot of things faster, tighter, and cleaner. But few new cars do it more intensely than this Dark Horse.

Dark Horse front

Ford Mustang GT Dark Horse

ACT clutch

Aesthetically the Mustang Dark Horse also nails it…

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. But semantics aside, the Dark Horse has undeniable presence. Again – it all comes down to intensity. The Dark Horse is low, wide, rebellious, & sinister. This car had the Handling Package that comes with 11.5” wide wheels in the rear (10.5” in the front), and rear 315/30R19 tires that about pulled the asphalt from the ground. It’s wild that the wheels, the tires, the ride height, the exhaust note… this is all factory stuff.

Look – with all the castration the automotive industry is putting itself through right now. And with all the EV/crossover butchering that Ford has done to the Mustang name. The sometimes hard-to-see reality is, on the other side of it, Ford is pushing the Mustang father than ever before. And making no compromises. In 2024, we can still buy a totally nasty 500hp manual transmission V8 Mustang. Not all hope is lost. 

Mustang Dark Horse

S650 Mustang

vapor blue Dark Horse

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