This next-gen Ford Mustang mule raises more questions than answers

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Brian Williams/Spiedbilde

New Mustang spy photos and video hint at significant updates to the Mustang coming in 2022 for the 2023 model year. Despite being based on the current S550 Mustang, this mule gives us a peek at the upcoming 2023 Mustang that’s been referred to as the S650. The engine note caught in the video below, captured while this mule was out and about with some camouflage on its front end, sure sounds like a Coyote V-8. However, what’s most interesting about this prototype is its new rear brake configuration.

We’re used to seeing S550 Mustangs with a single rear brake caliper near the trailing edge of the rear rotor. This Mustang mule has a pair of calipers: one smaller, parking-brake caliper where the current caliper resides, and the larger, primary brake caliper at the leading edge. Interestingly, scrawled on the driver’s side window in paint pen are the words “no brakes.” There are also cables running from the brakes into the cab, potential signs of data logging for this new brake system.

S650_Mule_rear brakes
Brian Williams/Spiedbilde

Some outlets are suggesting that this new brake setup points to an addition of an all-wheel-drive option, citing other AWD cars that use a similar brake system, including the Charger GT. However, there are plenty of AWD vehicles that don’t use a twin-caliper rear setup, including the Dodge Challenger GT and Ford’s own Explorer. Perhaps this dual-caliper configuration simply means that Ford is abandoning the manual-operated parking brake for an electronic unit that frees up more room in the center console and doesn’t require periodic adjustment.

Earlier Mustang rumors hold that Ford’s pony car is getting a significant mid-cycle enhancement (MCE) with a redesigned body before moving to the CD6 platform that underpins the current Ford Explorer and Lincoln Nautilus. That supposed switch would come around 2025 or 2026, giving this updated Mustang at least a three-year run.

If the Mustang does get an all-wheel-drive variant, the model would be better positioned to compete with the likes of the AWD Challenger GT, which has been on the market since 2017. An AWD ‘Stang would also give those that live in the Snowbelt one less excuse to put off buying the car of their dreams.

S650_Mule_spy shot rear three quarter Ford Mustang
Brian Williams/Spiedbilde
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