Next-gen Ford Mustang will muscle into 2022 Detroit Auto Show

Henry Payne
The Detroit News

The 2022 Detroit Auto Show has its first headliner: an all-new Ford Mustang.

The seventh-generation pony car’s debut Sep. 14 was announced by Ford boss and amateur race driver Jim Farley in a tweet Tuesday. “It’s a stunning car and I’m excited to share it with the world!” tweeted Farley, who added the hashtag #SaveTheManuals.

The hashtag appeared to be in response to concerns that the performance coupe would ditch its stick shift after comments earlier this year by Ali Jammoul, Ford vehicle program director, Icons and Ford Performance, in the Australian publication Wheels.

Classic and modern Ford Mustangs line Nine Mile at Paxton Street in Ferndale during last year's Woodward Dream Cruise. A seventh generation of the pony car is on the way.

"You know, eventually it’s going be phased out, right?" Jammoul told Wheels. "But as long as there's a market for it and customers still want that higher-performing feel, it'll stay.  . . ."

Jammoul appeared to be referencing Ford’s eventual transition to all-electric vehicles – not that the new 'Stang won’t offer a manual right out of the box. Code-named S650 and likely to arrive as a 2024 model, the new Mustang is expected to be based on the current muscle car platform that has been a hit since its introduction in 2015.

Bearing killer styling and an independent rear suspension for the first time, the sixth-gen Mustang has been the runaway sales leader in North America's muscle car segment, leaving longtime rival Chevy Camaro in the dust. The Mustang rocketed to 122,349 sales in 2015 before trailing off to 52,384 last year. Sales are off 18% through the first six months of 2022. Propelled by its 700-plus horsepower Hellcat model, the Dodge Challenger has been 'Stang’s closest rival in recent years.

Speaking of V-8s, Jammoul also confirmed to Wheels that the next-gen Mustang will continue with a V-8 engine.

Along with the Ford F-150 pickup and Ford Bronco, the Mustang is one of the Blue Oval’s brand icons. Speaking before investors Tuesday, Farley also confirmed “we’ll be introducing an all-new Super Duty pickup — the workhorse at Ford and that sets a standard in our industry.”

Mustang is a performance sub-brand that has already spawned Ford’s first EV, the Mustang Mach-E. Gas-powered performance variants of the Mustang include the turbo-4 powered High Performance, the V8-powered Mach 1, and the track-focused, 760-horse, supercharged Shelby GT500.

Assembled in Flat Rock, the Mustang likely won’t stray far from the current design based on camouflaged mules that have been roaming the streets of southeast Michigan. However, enthusiast publication Car and Driver reports the interior will undergo a major makeover “with a digital instrument cluster that wraps into a driver-focused infotainment touchscreen.”

Expect the sports car to continue to offer a 2.3-liter turbocharge-4 cylinder in addition to the 5.0-liter V-8 (mated to Farley’s favorite six-speed manual).

And expect to see a hybrid variant to meet stringent EPA emissions mandates — and that will serve as a bridge to the brand’s EV plans. EPA rules really start to pinch in 2026, so earth-pawing V-8 variants may be front-loaded in the early part of the pony car’s typical eight-year product cycle.

As for racing plans, Ford has already confirmed development of a next-gen, V8-powered GT3 race car with Multimatic Motorsports that will debut at the 2024 Rolex 24 at Daytona. It will also be available to independent teams in worldwide racing series.

The Detroit auto show — the first since January 2019 — will run Sept. 14-25 with displays in Huntington Place as well as multiple activations down Jefferson Avenue.  

Henry Payne is auto critic for The Detroit News. Find him at hpayne@detroitnews.com or Twitter @HenryEPayne.