It feels like just yesterday that Ford took the wraps off the latest Mustang, and yet it's actually been three full years. At the time, we were excited that the mainstream Mustang was finally getting independent rear suspension, and we were curious about the new EcoBoost turbocharged four-cylinder. We weren't sold on a few of the design details, like the Fusion-inspired headlights, but it was nice to see the Mustang grow up.
Turns out, the EcoBoost Mustang is actually quite good, but it's hard to beat the Mustang GT's power and V8 soundtrack. The real star of the show, though, is the Shelby GT350R that came later. In fact, we loved it so much, we named it our 2016 Performance Car of the Year.
It wouldn't be fair to call the current Mustang "old news" just yet. But with the updated 2018 Mustang likely to debut sometime next year, here's everything we think we know about how Ford will update its legendary pony car.
A refresh, not a redesign
If you were looking for an all-new Mustang next year, we're sorry to disappoint you. For 2018, Ford will most likely focus on tweaks and refinements to the existing car. The full redesign, though, has supposedly been moved forward a few years: Rumor has it we'll see a completely redesigned Mustang in 2020, not 2022 as was originally planned.
It'll offer MagneRide
Currently, the top-of-the-line Shelby GT350 and GT350R are the only Mustangs you can get with Ford's magnetorheological dampers. Chevy, on the other hand, offers its MagneRide suspension setup on the Camaro SS, which comes in $12,000 cheaper than the lowest-price Shelby. Expect to see Ford offer magnetorheologic dampers on the updated Mustang GT to close this gap.
It'll offer a dual-mode sports exhaust
This is another option the Shelby GT350 offers, one that will likely find its way into the Mustang GT. Here again, Chevrolet already offers similar equipment on the Camaro SS, so much like the magnetic suspension, we believe Ford's been forced to add it to the Mustang GT.
The Shelby GT350 and GT350R will go dual-clutch
Currently, if you want a Shelby GT350 or GT350R, all you can get is a manual transmission. But we've seen evidence that a dual-clutch transmission will soon be an option. Purists may groan, but on the race track the Shelby puts up lap times that compete with high-end supercars, and in the chase for quicker laps, dual-clutch wins.
The V6 will be gone
Back in 2010, Ford shocked us all by giving the base Mustang a 305-horsepower V6 that still got 31 mpg on the highway. These days, the V6 has been eclipsed by Ford's turbocharged four-cylinder in both sales and performance. With V6 Mustangs mostly reserved for rental car fleets, expect Ford to drop this drivetrain from the lineup sooner than later.
A 10-speed automatic will be available
Ford's new 10-speed auto was originally developed for the new F-150 Raptor. We fully expect it to show up in the 2018 Mustang, though. What's even more interesting is that the same transmission is currently available in the Camaro ZL1 and will likely spread to the rest of the Camaro lineup. Yes, that means that both Ford and Chevy will be bringing some of the same artillery to the traditional Mustang vs. Camaro battle. Fine by us-it's a stout and smart-shifting transmission.
In general, expect the 2018 Mustang to offer more refinement and increased sportiness. You may see a few design changes, but the most exciting developments will be the ones hidden under the sheet metal. And while we're definitely looking forward to track-testing a dual-clutch GT350R, we're most excited to see how the updated Mustang GT stacks up against the Camaro SS.
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