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Ford’s long-awaited 2023 Mustang is set to be a heavily facelifted version of the existing model, rather than complete redesign, if Michigan-based website FordAuthority.com is to be believed.
While there will probably be all-new sheetmetal front and rear, the S650-series Mustang – expected to surface before the end of 2022 – is said to retain the basic body structure, inner panels, roof and door openings from the current, fifth-generation S550 Mustang, which commenced production in 2014.
There’s also a 6.8-litre engine option – thought to be a V8 – rumoured to be in the mix, according to a Motor1 story quoting a Canadian auto trade union body spokesperson mentioning the return of Windsor power to the series, to join today’s 5.0-litre Coyote V8.
Among other statements, Unifor president Jerry Dias referred to a 6.8-litre engine to be used in "derivatives for the Mustang and F-150."
This is all positive news for Australian Mustang fans, since it means that the existing and highly successful recipe will continue on, in an albeit evolved state, and of course this possibly ensures the continuation of right-hand-drive production, almost certainly right up until the end of this decade.
However, the flipside suggests that the 2023 Mustang will be quite an old car by the time a truly all-new version arrives, probably sometime after 2030, and presumably with a completely redesigned and re-engineered platform underneath.
Speculation up until now had pundits believing that the 2023 Mustang might switch to a variation of Ford’s CD6 architecture – a longitudinal engined, rear-wheel (with optional all-wheel) drive set of scalable components that underpins the latest Explorer and related Lincoln Aviator large SUVs in North America.
Overseas reports from a few months back described CD6 as ‘a set of building blocks’. Encompassing the engine bay, suspension modules, axle-to-firewall structures and dash-height components, they’re meant to be interchangeable with varying body, powertrain, electrical hardware and interior parts, to create a range of differently shaped and sized vehicles.
Now, while “some elements” of CD6 may end up in the 2023 Mustang, a complete move to the fresh underpinnings is most likely off the table until the next all-new version appears after the end of this decade.
Given the age of the present S550 Mustang’s platform, this turn of events ought to surprise nobody, since it has evolved from the previous-generation S197 version – not officially sold in Australia – announced in 2004. In turn, that car was based on the DEW98 architecture seen beneath the 1998 Lincoln LS, 1999 Jaguar S-Type, 2002 Ford Thunderbird and most recently the original Jaguar XF of 2008 to 2015.
Ford created the CD6 to span a range of different-sized vehicles including sedans and small SUVs than the Explorer/Aviator, but that won’t include the next Mustang for now.
As we reported back in August, production of the 2023 Mustang is anticipated for some time later in 2022, so its likelihood of reaching Australia before the beginning of 2024 is slim. It is earmarked for an eight-year run (just like the S550), with a minor facelift said to be in the pipeline for the 2026 model year.
While the bones of the Blue Oval’s pony car may remain the same as today, the cabin will be completely redesigned from the ground up, promising improved quality, a big advance in technological knowhow and hopefully better functionality this time around.
Nobody is saying whether it will again be the work of a team based at Ford Australia in Melbourne.
It’s also a guessing game as to whether the S650 Mustang will again kick off with a four-cylinder turbo-petrol engine as per the 2.3-litre EcoBoost unit found in today’s Mustang. V6s in petrol and hybrid guises may materialise, while the mainstay 5.0-litre V8s in regular and hybrid set-ups have also been mooted over recent months – on top of that heady 6.8-litre engine rumour.
Don’t discount some of the styling details and design motifs inside and out from Ford’s other Mustang, the Mach-E EV SUV that’s being rolled out in North America and other parts of the world excluding Australia. Like we said in the past, only the iconic badge is shared with the S550/S660 Fastback and Convertible, since it’s actually derived from a development of the brand’s C2 platform (latest Focus, Escape and coming Bronco Sport SUV, among others) dubbed GE1.
The 2023 Mustang’s major reworking of existing platform parts rather than going all-new should have been foreseen by industry observers, even though the current model has held the title of world’s most popular sports car for the past half-decade.
It makes sense that it is simply following one of two paths that most sports-car makers are following nowadays – either that of the heavy redesign as witnessed by the just-unveiled Subaru BRZ and its upcoming Toyota 86 twin as well as Nissan’s 2002 Z33 350Z/2009 Z34 370Z-derived Z Proto concept (strongly rumoured to be known as the Z35 400Z), or the collaboration sports car, as per the 2019 BMW Z4 and Toyota Supra cousins.
Whatever happens, the Mustang’s metamorphosis as the decade wears on will be very interesting indeed, so watch this space…