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After a somewhat tumultuous 2021, the Ford Mustang is entering the new year relatively unchanged. But it’s also entered 2022 on the back foot somewhat, giving up its sales crown to the Dodge Challenger. However, the Challenger might not get to enjoy its new throne for too long. Whispers of the next Mustang generation are already circulating the Internet. And they’ll likely only grow louder now that someone just spotted it driving the streets.

The next-gen S650 Ford Mustang is already prowling the wild

A new blue 2022 Ford Mustang GT California Special on a runway
New 2022 Ford Mustang GT California Special | Ford

Currently, the Ford Mustang is in its sixth generation, dubbed ‘S550.’ And it’s been through a lot since its 2015 introduction. The S550 is the first global Mustang and the first to offer right-hand drive. Also, though it’s sadly gone now, this Mustang brought back the Shelby GT350 and GT350R. It resurrected the Shelby GT500, too, this time as a true supercar fighter.

Still, all good things must come to an end. And after seven years on the market, it’s time for a new Ford Mustang. Or at least an updated one.

That’s not just an idle sentiment, by the way. None less than Ford CEO Jim Farley has expressed a desire to make the Mustang as compelling as anything from Europe. Something “’for my kid to have…on his wall. Or on his phone,’” Farley told The Drive. And based on the spy photos that recently swept the web, it appears Ford is well on its way to bringing that notion to life.

Admittedly, it’s tough to say what the new Ford Mustang will look like under all that camo. The hood might be slightly more angular, and the rear taillights suggest resurrected sequential signals. But that’s about all we can glean as of this writing, at least visually.

Nevertheless, that is the upcoming S650 Mustang driving around in prototype form. And based on the rumors that continue to swirl, the seventh-gen Mustang could be bringing some new ideas to the street.

What we’ve heard so far about the new S650 Ford Mustang

Up until now—excluding the Mach-E crossover—every Mustang has relied solely on internal combustion for power. Furthermore, it’s been a RWD car since its inception. But the S650 Ford Mustang may mess with both of those statements.

Back in October 2021, a Ford employee seemingly accidentally posted S650 Mustang details onto his LinkedIn page, The Drive reports. If that information is indeed accurate, the next-gen Mustang will offer two plug-in hybrid powertrains: a 2.3-liter inline-four one and a 5.0-liter V8 one. Basically, hybrid versions of the current Mustang EcoBoost and GT.

In addition, a few years ago Ford filed a patent for a twin-motor hybrid system. The vehicle described in this patent drove its rear wheels via the gasoline engine but its front wheels with two electric motors. Essentially, it’s AWD using hybrid power.

A diagram from a 2017 Ford twin-power hybrid powertrain patent
2017 Ford twin-power hybrid powertrain patent | Ford

True, this Ford patent doesn’t explicitly contain the phrase ‘new Mustang.’ However, it’s worth noting that the patent uses a V8 as the gasoline engine example. Ford has several hybrid powertrains, but a V8 isn’t one of them.

If Ford indeed means to use this type of hybrid powertrain in the S650 Mustang, that means the pony car could get AWD for the first time. That’s significant for the pony/muscle car segment, as up until now, only the Challenger offered AWD. Given the Challenger’s recent sales gains over the Mustang, this speculation is oddly serendipitous.

As of this writing, Ford hasn’t officially commented on any of these S650 Mustang rumors. But The Drive notes that the LinkedIn page seems legitimate, and moreover, bears recommendations from other Ford employees. Furthermore, the current Mustang’s 10-speed automatic was designed with hybrid applications in mind, Autoblog says. Ford uses the same automatic in the F-150 Hybrid, for example. At least mechanically, all the pieces fall into place, so to speak.

When will the next-gen Mustang officially go on sale?

The rumors of a new, hybrid, AWD Ford Mustang first started circulating back in 2020. And at the time, these rumors suggested the S650 would arrive sometime in 2022, maybe as a 2023 model. But that was at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, mind you.

Currently, it’s looking like the S650 will debut in 2023 as a 2024 model. As such, we likely won’t receive more official information until later this year at the very earliest. So, whether you’re cheering or booing at the rumors, there’s still some time left to buy a new current-gen Ford Mustang.

Still, it’s safe to say enthusiasts will be waiting on S650 information with bated breath.

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