2024 Ford Mustang GT First Drive Review: The V8 Muscle Car Survives and Thrives

Long live the thunderous Coyote V8.

byPeter Nelson|
The 2024 Ford Mustang GT
Peter Nelson

It's finally here. The eight-year-old S550 Mustang has bowed out and made way for the new S650. You've presumably already read my thoughts on the four-cylinder EcoBoost, but now it's time for the main event: the GT. It still gets a big, naturally aspirated, 5.0-liter V8 engine affectionately known as the Coyote that's been tuned to be better than ever. With updated styling, new tech, performance tweaks over the legendary S550—and the ability to still, thankfully, shift gears yourself—the 2024 Ford Mustang GT is among the best V8 Mustangs, ever.

Here's why the GT is still an all-around solid enthusiast vehicle, and possibly the best car to cruise in with the stereo on mute.

Peter Nelson

2024 Ford Mustang GT Specs

  • Base Price (as tested): $44,090 ($50,310)
  • Powertrain: 5.0-liter V8 | 6-speed manual or 10-speed automatic | rear-wheel drive
  • Horsepower: 486 @ 7,250 rpm
  • Torque: 418 @ 4,900 rpm
  • Curb weight: 3,827 pounds
  • Seating capacity: 4
  • Cargo capacity: 13.3 cubic feet
  • EPA fuel economy: 14 mpg city | 23 highway | 17 combined
  • Quick take: A comfortable and confident next step forward.
  • Score: 9/10

The Basics

Naturally, the Mustang GT sports more overall aggression over its EcoBoost sibling, and Ford made sure it wears this on its sleeve. Most prominent is the GT's more motorsports-looking front bumper and grille combo, which is one of the best-looking sports car front-ends available today. It also gets a small hood vent, 18-inch wheels as standard, and a sharp rear spoiler to help balance out its stretched-out proportions.

Otherwise, it's the same overall athletic pony car body shared with the EcoBoost, including its handsome three-bar head and tail lights. Overall, certain angles are a little awkward and it looks a bit flattened out compared to its predecessor, but it's a good design overall. In my view, though, it doesn't steal the title of Best-Looking Mustang Ever from the S550—especially the Mach 1 that I drove earlier this year—but it might be the best-looking convertible Mustang since the original. Somehow, the shape just works without the roof; it's drop-dead (er, drop-top) gorgeous.

Peter Nelson

Also new are two big screens: The instrument cluster measures out to 12.4 inches, whereas the center infotainment screen is 13.2 inches and tilted 10 degrees toward the driver. Ford's latest Sync 4 infotainment software was easy to use and quite intuitive. Some prospective buyers will no doubt bemoan the 'Stang no longer having analog gauges, yours truly included, but at least the dash design is very customizable with different gauge styles—the late '80s/early '90s Fox-body readings are by far my favorite.

Keen-eyed Mustang fans will notice the same cupholders, armrest, and center tunnel as the S550, but that's about it in terms of carryover equipment.

The new interior is a spacious and more airy environment than the old one, and it's still quite accommodating for tall people. My six-foot-three self fit perfectly, and I could even move the steering wheel to within a good, performance-optimizing distance to my chest. You sit higher than you do in the old model, which improves overall visibility, though not so much that it messes with Mustang's classic sports car driving experience.

Driving Experience

Beneath the 2024 Mustang GT's hood lives a new fourth-generation 5.0-liter Coyote V8 that now puts out 480 horsepower and 415 lb-ft of torque (the old car made 450 hp and 410 lb-ft), though these bump up to 486 and 418, respectively, if you opt for the active valve exhaust. The biggest difference between this and last year's iteration is the introduction of one throttle body per cylinder bank, which helps account for better throttle response and the increase in power. It also has a revised passenger-side exhaust manifold, as well as a new steel oil pan to cut down on windage—or, in other words, oil splashing around on components when it's not used for lubrication.

Peter Nelson
Just beautiful. Peter Nelson

While Ford didn't offer any official acceleration figures, zero to 60 mph in the low fours seems quite doable. Keeping up with tradition, all Mustangs are rear-wheel-propelled, with the standard manual GT getting a 3.55:1 final drive (the auto gets 3:15.1), and the Performance Pack GT sporting a more aggressive 3.73:1 (3.55:1 for the auto).

For better or worse, I didn't get to spend any time in the automatic GT as I was too busy being pleasantly surprised by the manual's shift action. Its Getrag MT-82 six-speed manual absolutely did not shift like the MT-82 that I became quite familiar with in the previous-gen Bullitt and EcoBoost but instead felt very tight and refined. It's as if there were subtle revisions made to avoid grinding gears, shorten throws, and smooth out vibrations. Ford didn't have an explanation for why the MT-82 shifted noticeably closer to the Tremec found in the S550 Mach 1 and Shelby; so, for all we know, it could've just been down to rowing through a very fresh H-pattern that hadn't yet been massacred by fellow journalists. Regardless, it felt very good.

Radio? Who Needs a Radio?

I didn't have any qualms with how last year's Coyote V8 sounded, revved up, or shoved me along, but Ford made the new one better anyway. This beast roars even harder than before, and I just couldn't help but spend as much time as possible between 4,000 rpm and its 7,250 rpm redline. Woe betides anyone with hopes of beating its EPA-rated fuel economy figures. I was perfectly content keeping the stereo on mute, and instead reveling in the active valve exhaust-enhanced internal combustion soundtrack at all rpm, which was even more present in the soft top.

It felt like Ford shifted the power band slightly higher than before, but it still had ample shove throughout almost the entire rev range. The six-speed has very long gearing like the old model, too, which made shifting between first, second, and third on especially tight canyon roads simply too much fun.

The optional Performance Pack includes 19-inch wheels with 255/40 front and 275/40 rear summer rubber, a Torsen limited-slip differential, Brembo brakes, the new drift brake, stiffer front springs, bigger sway bars, and other minor additions for just $4,995.

The Premium's faux leather seating. Peter Nelson

I didn't get a chance to play with the drift brake in the GT like I did in the EcoBoost, but if you haven't read that review yet, it electronically locks up the rear wheels to help initiate oversteer-filled rascality. This means it could mark a new, especially gory era in Cars & Coffee exit pandemonium that could be studied by academics for decades to come. 

As for a more responsible use of brakes, the Performance Pack's six-piston front and four-piston rear aluminum Brembo calipers—with equally massive rotors—accompanied the big GT's overall solid agility to make precision braking a snap. Pedal feel and pressure were excellent and the calipers were quite easy to modulate without being too grabby. I also never experienced any decrease in performance after several miles of hard use in immensely high ambient temps.

Peter Nelson

In addition to its braking capabilities, the GT's solid handling made good use of maintaining momentum on some of California's twistiest and most technical roads. You feel the big V8's weight at the front end, but it was easy to account for as I became more and more comfortable pushing it through twisty roads. Neither tester I drove was equipped with optional MagneRide dampers, but their conventional passive damping matched with stiffer sway bars resulted in a solid overall ride, particularly in the inherently more rigid coupe. There was some mild body roll at full tilt, but rebound and compression were tuned very well for heaving over big bumps, undulations, and off-camber sections.

These same characteristics translated well to streets in town: the ride got a little choppy over SoCal's infamously terrible tarmac but nothing beyond what anyone who's keen on the enthusiast car life would tolerate. It was also plenty comfortable on the highway, which, combined with its very long gearing, would make a brilliant road trip ripper.

My only gripes were rooted in the steering. The new Mustang GT shares the same 15.5:1 ratio as the EcoBoost, which is noticeably quicker than the S550's 16.0:1 and a welcome upgrade. However, its action felt too muted and soft; weight didn't build up much off-center at speed and didn't feel all that direct. I didn't have as much of an issue with this in the EcoBoost, as that car's much lighter front end made it a more dynamic, classic sports car experience. I also noticed that the steering feels better in the coupe than it does in the convertible due to the obvious structural rigidity advantage, but the gulf here isn't as pronounced as it is between GT and EcoBoost. Though more direct and well-weighted steering might be reserved for the upcoming Dark Horse—I'll report back next week after I give it a thorough go.

Peter Nelson

Ford Mustang GT Features, Options, and Competition

To jump into a base Ford Mustang GT, turn over its mighty five-0, and lay down elevens deep into the horizon, it'll cost $44,090. This includes cloth manual-adjust seats, single-zone climate control, and six speakers. Moving up to the Premium costs $48,610 to start or $54,110 if you opt for the soft top, which isn't available on the base trim. Up here, you get dual-zone climate control, heated and ventilated faux-leather seats, satellite radio, Bang & Olufsen audio, a six-way power adjustable driver seat, and a heated steering wheel. Recaro sport seats and MagneRide adaptive dampers are unlocked at this level, too, which command an additional $1,650 and $1,750, respectively.

Most pertinently, you save money if you commit to helping save the manuals as the 10-speed automatic is a $1,595 option. Do your part, pick the stick if you're able to.

Personally, I'd opt for a base with the Performance Package and active valve exhaust, which works out to just over $50,000. That ain't cheap, but the former is a must-have due to its assured braking performance, stickier tires, and more enthusiastic differential. The latter is crucial for aural provenance.

It's sad to say, but the 2024 Mustang GT doesn't have much for competition besides the archaic Dodge Challenger R/T Scat Pack, which starts at $49,860, and the $40,545 2024 Chevy Camaro 1SS, two cars that are both not long for this world.

The Early Verdict

The 2024 Ford Mustang GT is a solid lunge forward for the Blue Oval's venerable muscle car. It retains a lot of what makes modern Mustangs so categorically good and endlessly fun to drive but is freshened up enough to stay relevant and appeal to younger drivers. Sure, it's a bummer that it no longer possesses analog gauges, but that's the way the world's going. At least we have the ability to add a little character, albeit digitally.

Performance-wise, it's still a screamer, and it's such a relief to row your own gears in a 2024 model-year car. I swear I'm not losing my mind when I say the MT-82 was fun to shift, either. You can tell Ford really took everything it learned from decades of building the Mustang and worked hard to make this the most rounded one yet; even if it doesn't possess the greatest steering, I can't wait to see how enthusiasts take to it for track and autocross duty.

Whether you just want a convertible to gently cruise around in on the weekends, you never miss a local weekend car show, or spend way too much time and money chasing lap times at the track, the Mustang GT remains a universally great option.

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