Hot Lapping the 2024 Ford Mustang Dark Horse on a Race Track

2024 ford mustang dark horse
2024 Ford Mustang Dark Horse- 2024 PCOTY Hot LapGreg Pajo

So. Much. Grip. The Mustang, equipped with the Handling Pack and hence fitted with the new Pirelli Trofeo RS tire, was borderline outrageous on track for a car of this size, weight and at this price point.

Huge lateral grip, the braking performance to match, and a 5-litre V-8 with wicked response married to the superb 6-speed Tremac gearbox (the standard Mustang has a Getrag 6-speed). It would be an exaggeration to say that the Dark Horse ever feels small or truly nimble, but it hollers and bullies its way around the racetrack with such intensity and focus and is properly fast. Faster than a 911 Carrera T, for example.

Welcome to our PCOTY track notes. These are the stream-of-consciousness scrawlings from our resident hot shoe, editor-at-large Jethro Bovingdon, following his hot-lap sessions in each contender.

It’s odd to sit so high and sense the transparent scale of the Mustang (it actually feels even bigger than it is from the driver’s seat), but still have such dependable front-end response. The rear axle can live with the turn-in, too. In fact, the locked-together feel of the front and rear really allows you to compress the phase between corner entry and exit. There’s an innate neutral balance that builds confidence whereas in, say, the M2, you're forced to manage the power and oversteer all the time. The Dark Horse frees you up to unleash the engine. You can really attack in this car. Oh, and the engine and gearbox are superb and really humble the Nismo's slightly flat V-6 and automatic gearbox.

2024 ford mustang dark horse
Andi Hendrick

On track, the very stiff ride isn’t a problem and although the Dark Horse never feels subtle or nuanced, there’s no denying its effectiveness, its character, and the entertainment it serves up. You don't get the magic of the old GT350R here, but for a standard production Mustang, it’s a mighty performer.

About PCOTY hot laps:

Our lap times are simple. They are meant to inform us about how these cars perform on track, not to chase an elusive or ‘ultimate’ time that would require multiple sessions in each car. The laps were set after just a few sighting laps and no prior experience on the circuit. Unless a car didn’t get a fair shake, we did one out lap, three hot laps, and a cool-down. Whilst all the cars could go quicker, the times are representative. The delta between the cars would be consistent even with many more laps and sets of tires to burn through.

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