The Dark Horse – Ford’s Power-Packed Response to the Fading Pony Car World

The pony car world is disappearing, but Ford offers an awesome car to show why this class should continue. The Ford Mustang Dark Horse is coming.

The ultimate pony car is the Ford Mustang. Even after the brand added an electric SUV bearing the same name, the Mustang continues to be a dominant force with a strong V8 engine at the top of the lineup. While the Camaro and Challenger are riding off into the sunset, the Mustang Dark Horse takes the stage to provide us with an incredible, classic, and powerful V8 pony car that rekindles our love of this sports car class.

What are the pros and cons of the Dark Horse?

MotorTrend tested the Dark Horse Mustang providing us with these pros and cons.


  • Most powerful naturally aspirated Coyote engine
  • Undeniable track-ready aerodynamics, handling, and braking
  • Accelerates as hard as the Shelby GT500


  • Can feel heavy at times
  • No head-up display to match the rest of the modern tech
  • Slow screen loading times after startup

This is a starting point for this car, giving you an idea of what to expect in this top-level Ford pony car.

Extra strength to handle the added Coyote power

The same 5.0-liter V8 engine found under the hood of the GT resides in the engine bay of the Ford Mustang Dark Horse. This engine is tuned up for extra power, which means the car needs added strength and tuning to handle the power. This specialized Mustang has an optional active exhaust with a forged crankshaft and connecting rods, auxiliary oil cooling, and more aggressive spark timing. These adjustments increase power from 486 to 500 horsepower while the torque figure stays the same as the GT at 418 lb-ft.

Impressive sprint figures from the Dark Horse

This specialized, high-powered Mustang utilizes a 10-speed automatic transmission to channel power to the rear wheels, enabling the Dark Horse to reach 60 mph in only 3.7 seconds. When faced with a quarter-mile sprint, Ford tuned this pony car to finish the run in only 12.0 seconds. The automatic version has a Drag Strip mode, which puts this Mustang into its most aggressive state with hard upshifts, similar to slamming a manual into gear.

For those Mustang enthusiasts searching for a manual transmission instead of the 10-speed automatic, a stick shifter is available, and comes with launch control. This impressive manual transmission allows drivers to feather the clutch pedal and lightly press the throttle to take off like a rocket without driving with heavy braking.

Does the Dark Horse stack up well against the GT500?

The new Ford Mustang Dark Horse rockets to 60 mph at the same time as the Shelby GT500. That’s saying quite a bit, considering the GT500 delivers 760 horsepower and 625 lb-ft through a 5.2-liter supercharged Predator V8 engine. The only Mustang to rocket to 60 mph faster is the GT500 with the Carbon Fiber Track pack, which can hit this mark in 3.6 seconds.

The power advantage of the Shelby GT500 shows up in the quarter-mile sprint, which sees the Shelby model complete the run half a second faster than the Dark Horse. This is expected, considering the Shelby has 1.5 times the power of the Dark Horse.

Performance features to harness Dark Horse power

The new Dark Horse Mustang isn’t only made for fast sprints to highway speeds or on a quarter-mile track. This car can rocket around the track and stick to the corners extremely well. The Dark Horse includes a set of MagneRide dampers, stronger anti-roll bars, a full set of functional aerodynamic elements, and Pirelli P Zero Trofeo RS tires. Drivers can take this incredible machine out on the track and know it’s ready to handle the challenges of twists, turns, elevations, and curves.

Is this Ford Mustang good on the road?

One of the most important qualities of driving a pony car is the ability to handle on-street driving as well as track-day fun. The MagneRide suspension adjusts well enough to handle the road issues you’ll find during your daily commute or while enjoying a road trip. This system tames the ruts and bumps to make the Ford Mustang Dark Horse an impressive street car that can be a lot of fun to drive during your next road trip.

The new Dark Horse starts at $65,860, with the Handling pack pushing that price to $75,500. Considering the Shelby GT500 requires more than $100,000, the Dark Horse is a value player and one of the top-level pony cars in the market. The Ford Mustang Dark Horse might be the last of the pony cars; if so, it’s a pretty special car with the right power for all drivers to admire.

This post may contain affiliate links. Meaning a commission is given should you decide to make a purchase through these links, at no cost to you. All products shown are researched and tested to give an accurate review for you.

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