Ford Authority

2023 Ford Mustang Mule Appears To Be Testing An All-Wheel-Drive Setup: Video

The next-gen, S650, 2023 Ford Mustang has been the subject of many rumors in recent months, including, most recently, the notion that an all-electric pony car will completely replace the ICE-powered Mustang altogether. However, it’s expected that the seventh-generation Ford Mustang will enter production at the Ford Flat Rock Assembly Plant in 2022 for the 2023 model year. And now, we’ve spied what appears to be the very first mule for the next-gen, S650 Mustang, which also appears to be testing an all-wheel-drive system.

This early mule of a 2023 Ford Mustang represents a veritable hodgepodge of things from FoMoCo’s pony car parts bin. That includes the front fascia of an S550 Mustang GT covered in camo, the front splitter, and side splitters from the Mach 1, and wheels lifted from a Mach 1 Handling Package car. The dual-tip exhaust is something that isn’t present on the Mach 1, however, though the mule is powered by Ford’s 5.0L Coyote V8, likely with a Bullitt/Mach 1 tune.

This mule also has cables on all four wheels which are connected to a sensor inside the cabin, but its most interesting feature might just be the rear brake setup. Here, we can clearly see that the position of the brake caliper and the parking brake assembly is reversed from the current model, which is highly unusual and a solid indication that we are in fact looking at a next-gen all-wheel-drive mule.

What’s particularly notable about the fact that the brake caliper is positioned on the front of the rotor instead of the rear is the fact that many existing all-wheel-drive vehicles utilize this same layout. This includes the BMW 850i, Dodge Charger, Infiniti Q60s, and various other models.

In the real world, the position of the disc brake caliper has little effect on efficiency, as long as the bleed screws are positioned at 12 o’clock. Calipers can be mounted to the rotor in the “lead” or “trail” position, which refers to their position relative to the spindle or axle centerline.

Thus, it’s all about the packing of these components – the position of the cradle, axles for all-wheel-drive systems, spindles, hubs, and struts. Rear caliper placement is typically arranged to allow the best package for all suspension arms going to the knuckle, usually the damper position.

Interestingly enough, the driver didn’t appear to be too happy with us snapping some pictures of the car, however, given the one-finger salute he gave us as he drove by Ford’s Experimental Vehicles facility.

The S650 Mustang’s platform won’t be changing much from the current model, but will likely receive some improvements. As we reported last August, the next-gen Mustang is also expected to have an eight-year life cycle, which means it would run through the 2029 model year. As for the all-electric Mustang, rumors indicate that it will enter production in late 2028 for the 2029 model year, so it’ll be interesting to see how these rumors ultimately line up.

We’ll have more on the next-gen Mustang very soon, so be sure and subscribe to Ford Authority for more Ford Mustang news and non-stop Ford news coverage.

Brett's lost track of all the Fords he's owned over the years and how much he's spent modifying them, but his current money pits include an S550 Mustang and 13th gen F-150.

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  1. Ford Owner

    You probably meant the brake caliper is on the foward part of the rotor.

  2. Stalkbroker94

    What’s the deal with that driver? You’re driving a prototype vehicle. You only get to be mad if you see someone trying to remove the wrappings or get a call from your higher-ups that you did something wrong.

    1. Chevys and Fyords

      I think he’s saying “FORD IS #1!”.

  3. mikeytx

    AWD is a joke unless one is in snow country or tracking a vehicle. I am stuck with it on my ST. I need it where I live in the FL keys like I need another ex wife !

    1. Larry F

      So don’t buy one… Not a joke when you mash the pedal and you don’t hookup and the rear wheels just spin. AWD has it’s advantages, especially if it’s a select-able system.

  4. Chipster

    Ford should fire that jerk. If they don’t want test cars seen and photographed or videoed then they have plenty of test tracks. Taking test or preproduction vehicles on public streets is a deliberate decision by car companies to generate interest in their products. It has always been that way. The Ford employee in that car is a total jerk.

    1. Jack Emig

      @ Chipster, Absolutely agree! I would gladly be a test driver for Ford.

  5. Mike

    The only point of a 4 wheel drive Mustang is to drop the 0-60 and 1/4 mile times. It’s great for getting out of corners, but I doubt there will be Mustangs in Imsa that aren’t rear only. Seems to be the only thing magazines care for these days.
    Once the real Mustangs are done and they go to electric appliances only, the Mustang will be over with anyway. That’s like kissing your sister, sure she’s a girl, but come on.

  6. Ryan

    I disagree with some of the remarks posted here. I would love to have an awd mustang. Even with a drag radial my current Mustang spins all the time during spirited driving. If it comes in true GT form, not a downrated engine or trans, and a 500ish hp engine, I may be trading off my S550. I like my 6sp manual car so if it can come in a manual, that would be more fun. But I am open to a good auto, just have to make it more reliable than the current 10 speed.
    I do agree with the comments about the guy’s communication style. Inappropriate, can him. I will drive those cars around for Ford with a smile on my face.

    1. Stalkbroker94

      Indeed. there are a lot of benefits to AWD on even a Mustang. The problem is that it’s not traditional. A lot of people here can be very scared of change. Very stuck in their ways.

      1. Matt

        If it is hybrid and AWD I don’t want it. I want a real car not a hybrid tree saver

        1. Ryan

          Amen to that 👍

    2. Matt

      The current 10 speed is reliable much more reliable than the 6 speed manual ford is being sue over. People just think it has a problem but it shift fine by and large

  7. fpvfan

    I’m all for the traditional mustang and I think it should stay around for the people who are dead set in their thinking that the Mustang should only be a 2-door RWD only vehicle with V8 power. But since the guys at Ford are changing up a lot with the Mustang anyway, especially putting the name on an all-electric crossover and having them run side by side in a “Mustang Family of vehicles” can we, perhaps, get a 4-door fastback coupe variant with a few Ecoboost V6 and Ecoboost V6 hybrid variants with AWD and a crossover version? Keep the 2.3L version for the base cars but offer:
    400hp/415hp 3.0L Ecoboost ST
    494hp/630tq 3.0L Hybrid RS
    480hp/542tq 3.5L Ecoboost XR6-T
    530hp/430tq 5.2L FPC Voodoo XR8 R-Spec
    Sure for the coupe/vert offer the regular 2.3L the regular 5.0L and the supercharged 5.2L, and make a coupe and 4-door coupe version of the Mach E. As far as the 4-door coupe/crossover, give all of them AWD systems with 10-speed automatics and DCT options with a Vignale luxury package that would be the equivalent of the Lincoln Black Label package. Now this would be a Mustang family that I would love to see.

  8. Chris

    I’ve read a lot of people freaking out on different forums like Ford won’t off options. The Mustang is an option beast so AWD will just be another option.

  9. Tyler J Reeves

    I can’t wait for it to come out

  10. The Wizard

    The goal here is to beat Teslas in the quarter mile.
    A hybrid Mustang with 10-speed automatic and properly tuned traction control should be able to do that.
    We need all four wheels putting out roughly equal torque, depending on the weight distribution. And no wheel slip.
    The hybrid battery system needs to max out for like eight seconds.
    How hard can this really be?

  11. Ryan

    I would love some American muscle with AWD and a manual transmission. Right now the only powerful AWD/manual options anywhere are the Porsche 911 4, maybe one of the Audis. If Ford makes an AWD high performance Mustang with a 6 speed manual I’m in.

  12. Bob

    Living in Canada, I suspect Ford would definitely increase their Mustang sales if they offered it in AWD. We certainly see a lot of AWD chargers and challengers in Northern Ontario where I live. Keep it sensible though. 2.3 or 2.7 turbo, and 17 or 18 inch rims.

  13. RRJ

    AWD cannot happen soon enough for me as there is no way that I’ll buy another Mustang unless it has it.

  14. RedGt

    I welcomed awd mustang especially if the setup can be turn on and off. Cars like the Lancer evo had that kind of setup and German cars as well

  15. Mike S.

    This car doesn’t have AWD. No axle nut behind the front wheel means no axle either. Really wish more people understood this.


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