2024 Mustang GT vs Dark Horse Mustang

2024 Mustang GT vs Dark Horse Mustang

Last Updated May 13, 2024 | Nate Moonis
Contents

With the release of the 7th generation Mustang, Ford introduced a brand-new special edition called the Dark Horse. This Mustang was given an all-new 4th-gen 5.0L Coyote V8 that is confirmed by Ford to make the most power in a non-Shelby Mustang ever. However, the new S650 Mustang GT is no slouch either. It also gets a version of the new 4th-gen Coyote along with plenty of other upgrades over previous models.

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So, what are the differences between these two Mustangs? Whether you're trying to make an informed decision before you buy or just curious about which is better, this guide will lay out the pros and cons of both models to make it clear.

For a comparison of the other 2024 Mustang trims, check out our 2024 EcoBoost vs GT and 2024 Dark Horse vs EcoBoost trim comparisons.

2024 Mustang GT - Dark Horse Specs Comparison
SpecificationMustang Dark HorseMustang GT
Starting MSRP $59,270 $41,495
($46,015 for Premium Package)
Engine 5.0L DOHC Ti-VCT V8 5.0L DOHC Ti-VCT V8
Horsepower 500 hp 480 hp
Torque 418 lb-ft 415 lb-ft
Fuel Delivery Dual port fuel direct injection Dual port fuel direct injection
Compression Ratio 12.0:1 12.0:1
Bore and Stroke 93 x 92.7 mm 93 x 92.7 mm

Exterior Comparison

While not as stark as the differences between the Mustang GT and EcoBoost, the Dark Horse and GT do have their design differences.

GT and Dark Horse Rear Wing

Starting from the rear, both the Dark Horse and GT have rear wings. However, the Dark Horse has a larger, more aggressive wing than the GT. This wing has a steeper angle to create more downforce.

Rear wing comparison of a Mustang Dark Horse and GT

Badges

The GT gets the 5.0 fender badges and the rear "GT" emblem that we're accustomed to. The GT also gets the classic "pony" emblem on the front grille that's been a staple of Mustangs since 1965.

The Dark Horse, on the other hand, doesn't receive the same 5.0 fender badges. Instead, it receives the new "Dark Horse" emblem in its place. Also, the "Dark Horse" emblem is used on the rear in between the tailights. This gives the Dark Horse a distinct look from the other S650 options. You can always add an aftermarket badge or other accessories if you want to change the stock look. Or, if you'd rather remove the fender badges entirely, you can do that too.

Badge comparison of a Mustang Dark Horse and GT

Front End

The Dark Horse features a larger front lip than the GT for increased performance. It also has larger front intake vents to get more air to the engine. The Dark Horse also features large plastic inserts underneath the headlights that the GT doesn't have. Finally, the Dark Horse has larger front openings for increased airflow under the car.

Front end comparison of a Mustang Dark Horse and GT

2024 Dark Horse Mustang vs GT Wheels

The GT comes with a very distinct set of S650 Mustang wheels. It features a 19-inch, black, 10-spoke pattern that is reminiscent of a spider's web. The Dark Horse features a different set of 5-spoke wheels as standard. While not as interesting as the GT's, you can upgrade to a set of carbon fiber wheels that look aggressive and weigh just 20.1 lbs each. It's also important to note that the Dark Horse has staggered wheel sizes for better performance. The fronts are 19" x 9.5" and the rears are 19" x 10".

Wheel comparison of a Mustang Dark Horse and GT

Interior Differences

The interiors of the GT and the Dark Horse are both very similar. You get the heavily revised instrument cluster and 13.2-inch infotainment screen running Ford's SYNC 4. The only real difference is the standard Recaro seats found in the Dark Horse. You can get Recaro seats in the GT, but they'll cost more as an option. You can also expect to see the flat-bottom steering wheel included in both cars as standard.

Mustang GT vs Mustang Dark Horse Features
Spec2024 Mustang Dark Horse2024 Mustang GT
Seats Leather Recaro Seats with Suede Inserts Cloth Seats with Leather Inserts
Dash Includes Digital Dash Includes Digital Dash
Steering Wheel Track Inspired Flat-Bottom Wheel Track Inspired Flat-Bottom Wheel

Mustang Dark Horse vs GT Engine and Power Comparison

Both the GT and Dark Horse will feature Ford's brand new, 4th-generation Coyote V8. First introduced in 2010, the Coyote V8 has been Ford's flagship V8 over the last decade plus of Mustangs. While the Coyote engine has evolved over several generations, the 4th promises to be the best yet. In the Dark Horse, the new Coyote makes 500 horsepower and 418 lb-ft of torque.

The Dark Horse also features a few other upgrades over the GT. It receives a uniqely balanced crankshaft and forged piston connecting rods to handle the higher cylinder pressures and piston speeds present in the most powerful non-Shelby Mustang ever. You also get strengthened camshafts and a 7,500 RPM redline.

While the GT doesn't make quite as much power, it still packs quite the punch. You can expect the GT to make 480 horsepower and 415 lb-ft of torque. However, if you upgrade to the active-valve performance exhaust system, you can expect an extra 6 horsepower and 3 lb-ft of torque. The GT is also naturally-aspirated like the Dark Horse, so you can expect the classic V8 feel and sound.

In case you are interested in adding power through aftermarket parts, It is unclear at this time whether the S650 ECU can be tuned.

Mustang Dark Horse vs Mustang GT Performance
SpecMustang Dark HorseMustang GT
Power 500 hp, 418 lb-ft of torque 480 hp, 415 lb-ft of torque
Redline 7,500 RPM 7,250 RPM
Forced Induction? No No

Dark Horse vs GT Transmission Comparison

While both the Dark Horse and GT come with 6-speed manuals as standard, the two 2024 Mustang transmissions are considerably different.

The GT comes with the Getrag MT-82. This 6-speed has been Ford's go-to for the Mustang since at least 2011. It's a well-known transmission and Ford is definitely comfortable integrating it into its cars. However, there have been many complaints about the transmission over the years. A few well-known issues with the Getrag MT-82 include high-RPM lockout, slipping, gear clashes, and failures. While the MT-82 isn't a bad transmission, it's surprising that Ford is sticking with it in the S650 generation. The GT also has an optional 10-speed automatic available for those who would prefer the driving experience an automatic transmission provides instead.

The Dark Horse comes equiped with the Tremac TR-3160, 6-speed manual as standard. This is a significant upgrade over the MT-82 and improves the performance of the Dark Horse greatly. Ford has used this transmission in the past in the 2016-2020 GT350 and 2021 Mustang Mach 1. Both of these cars are high-performance beasts, and the TR-3160 is a big reason for that label. The TR-3160 was developed with high-torque applications in mind, making it the perfect transmission for a performance-edition Mustang. Like the GT, the Dark Horse also has an optional 10-speed automatic available. While it has slightly different gear ratios to the automatic in the GT, you can expect it to perform similarly.

Mustang GT vs Mustang Dark Horse Transmission
SpecMustang Dark HorseMustang GT
Transmission 6-speed, Tremec TR-3160 manual as standard and optional 10-speed automatic 6-speed, Getrag MT-82 manual as standard and optional 10-speed automatic

Handling and Suspension Differences

While both cars are built on the same chassis, the Dark Horse has a clear advantage in terms of handling.

The Dark Horse features a lightweight, Ford Performance-designed strut tower brace and K-brace to improve chassis rigidity. This gives the driver increased steering response and grip. The Dark Horse also gets a Torsen rear differential, Pirelli P-ZERO tires, and Magneride suspension as standard. All of these upgrades give you superior handling compared to the GT.

While the Dark Horse already outperforms the GT, it gets even better with the optional Handling Package. Buying this upgrade gives you a unique rear wing with an integrated Gurney flap. Along with the upgraded rear wing, you also get stiffer springs, large front and rear sway bars, and wider Pirelli Trofeo tires to go with wider front and rear wheels.

However, the new GT does receive some handling upgrades. The performance pack, one of the 2024 Mustang GT package options, makes substantial improvements to the S650's stock handling and suspension. Upgrading to the performance pack will add Magneride suspension and the new electronic drift brake. You also get access to six different driving modes: normal, sport, slippery, track, drag strip, and custom. These change the handling characteristics of your S650 and are available on both the GT and Dark Horse.

Mustang Dark Horse vs Mustang GT Handling
Spec2024 Mustang Dark Horse2024 Mustang GT
Drifting Drift brake (Standard) Drift brake (Optional with Performance Pack)
Suspension Magneride Suspension (standard) Magneride Suspension (Optional with Performance Pack)
Chassis Bracing Ford Performance strut tower brace and K-brace (standard) Stabilizer bars (standard)
Drive Modes 6 Selectable Drive Modes 6 Selectable Drive Modes

Which Mustang Is Better: Dark Horse or GT?

While it is true that the Dark Horse outperforms the GT in almost every category, that's by design. When Ford built the Dark Horse, they were facing down the final generation of gas-powered Mustangs ever. They knew that they needed a halo car to give long-time fans exactly what they wanted. That's what the Dark Horse is. A passion-project that's the perfect way to kick off the S650 generation. While the GT may not be the Dark Horse, it's still an amazing car in its own right and comes in at a lower price point.

Mustang GT vs Mustang Dark Horse Comparison
SpecMustang Dark HorseMustang GTWinner
Starting MSRP $59,270 $41,495
($46,015 for Premium Package)
GT
Features Dark Horse Base (Adds Leather Seat Inserts) or Premium trim Dark Horse
Power 500 hp, 418 lb-ft of torque 480 hp, 415 lb-ft of torque Dark Horse
Exhaust Note Rowdy, V8 growl enhanced by optional upgraded exhaust system Classic, deep muscle car rumble and growl Dark Horse
Transmission 6-speed, Tremec TR-3160 manual as standard and optional 10-speed automatic 6-speed, Getrag MT-82 manual as standard and optional 10-speed automatic Dark Horse

If you want a great car, you can't go wrong with either. The Dark Horse is everything that a naturally-aspirated Mustang should be. The Dark Horse also has a dedicated track edition named the Dark Horse R. The GT, on the other hand, is an all-new V8 muscle car from the company that does it the best. Whatever you decide, you won't be disappointed.

If you decide to get the S650 Mustang GT, check out how the 2024 Mustang GT base and premium trim levels compare.

If you would like to know more about when the S650 will be available, check out our guide explaining the 2024 Mustang release date. Whether you choose a GT or a Dark Horse, make sure to check out our 2024 Mustang Parts page if you're looking to maximize your S650 experience.

Sources: 2024 Mustang Preliminary Technical Specs, Ford

This article was researched, written, edited, and reviewed following the steps outlined in our editorial process. Learn more about CJ's editorial standards and guidelines.