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Ford Mustang 2022: Will Australia get the Stealth Edition and California Special? New grades break cover as the current model enters its final full year of production against the coming Nissan Z, Kia Stinger and Chrysler 300

As these special editions suggest, Ford may be preparing us for a racier Mustang when the next-gen series debuts later in 2022.

The best-selling sports car in the world is seeing out its final year of production in its existing design with two limited-edition models announced last week for North America.

Whether they end up on Australian-bound Mustangs is not known as yet, but they could be seen as an early taster of what we can expect the next-generation model to look like when it is unveiled globally later in 2022.

The first is the Stealth Edition. Created to give the High Performance EcoBoost model (powered by a 224kW/441Nm 2.3-litre four-cylinder turbo-petrol engine in Australia) a bit of a kick-along, this black-out package attempts to add a more aggressive look to the lower-end of the Mustang range – and that’s something that is rumoured to be central to the styling of the 2023 redesign.

Among the changes are ‘Ebony Black’ 19-inch alloy wheels, black badges, black mirror caps, a new spoiler, clear LED tail-lights (standard on Australian cars but a rarity on US-market Mustangs), a matte- and gloss-black instrument panel badge, and lighted sill plate, to give what Ford calls “…a whole new persona, sinister and sporty all at once”. It’s only available on cars painted Atlas Blue, Carbonised Grey, Dark Matter and Shadow Black.

“Stealth Edition Appearance Package stays true to its name, giving customers a more menacing-looking fastback with uniquely blacked-out appointments,” according to Ford’s US media release.

Meanwhile, the California Special edition famous among Mustang aficionados has been revived for V8 Fastback and Convertible buyers at the other end of the grade spectrum.

It brings back the original version’s blacked-out grille, side racing stripes and rear fender scoop, a unique ‘California Special’ badge in Ebony Black and Race Red script for the boot lid, ‘GT/CS’ badge for the honeycomb grille, a larger front splitter from the GT Performance Package, five-spoke 19-inch painted machined alloys and a strut tower brace with California Special badge atop its 5.0-litre V8 under the bonnet.

‘GT/CS’ logos feature inside and out. ‘GT/CS’ logos feature inside and out.

Suede-trimmed door inserts and seats embossed with ‘GT/CS’ logos and carbon hex aluminium instrument panel surrounds complete the special edition.

California Special buyers can also add a GT Performance Package for improved handling and braking performance, ushering in Brembo six-piston front brake calipers, unique chassis tuning with heavy-duty front springs, a larger rear anti-roll bar, lower ride height, additional suspension and subframe bracing, a Torsen limited-slip differential, unique stability control and steering tuning, and higher-grade tyres.

As the name suggest, the California Special dates back to a US state-specific 1968 limited run exercise designed for driving enthusiasts, but it also points to a greater focus on performance and dynamics for the next-generation model.

The California Special dates back to a 1968 limited run model. The California Special dates back to a 1968 limited run model.

Due to be unveiled sometime in the second half of next year, the seventh Mustang will see the biggest changes made to the nameplate since production of the S550-series commenced in July 2014 at Flat Rock, Michigan.

Along with a host of improvements, the S650 reportedly adopts a raft of changes that should see the it out through to 2030 on existing projections, including petrol-electric hybridisation slated for the middle of the decade, as well as optional all-wheel drive for some markets.

However, despite expected new sheet metal and a completely redesigned cabin to give the S650 a more-contemporary appearance inside and out, it seems that the same basic body structure underneath will carry on, including door openings and many hidden inner panels.

The Stealth Edition features black highlights. The Stealth Edition features black highlights.

Additionally, there’s speculation that the existing Mustang’s architecture may also be pressed back into service, albeit extensively overhauled, with elements of the newer CD6 platform underpinning the latest (since 2020) Explorer and related Lincoln SUVs expected, to allow for the possibility of AWD and electrification.

After all, the hardware dates back to the DEW98 architecture seen beneath the 1998 Lincoln LS, 1999 Jaguar S-Type, 2002 Ford Thunderbird and most recently the first Jaguar XF of 2008 to 2015. Earlier rumours predicted a wholesale switch to CD6 for the next Mustang, but that may not be feasible for cost reasons.

Finally, it’s been reported previously that a larger V8 of 6.8-litre capacity from the Windsor engine family is on the cards, to sit above the continuing 5.0-litre Coyote V8.

The ‘California Special’ features a 5.0-litre V8. The ‘California Special’ features a 5.0-litre V8.

When will Australia see the next-gen Mustang? Later in 2023 is probably the earliest date, though with local sales holding firm despite the current model’s advancing years, Ford may want to maintain interest and momentum by rushing through the newest iteration.

So far this year, 2194 Mustangs have been sold in Australia, giving it a 53.2 per cent of the sub-$80K sports car segment. In contrast, the second-placed Mazda MX-5 only managed to find 583 buyers.

As Ford gets closer to that late-2022 unveiling date, more details surrounding the S650 Mustang should leak out sooner rather than later, so stay tuned. We’ll keep you posted the moment we find out.