Ford says the upcoming Mustang will be “much more difficult” to tune, thanks to beefed up cybersecurity

Ford unveiled the latest S650 Mustang last month. The seventh-generation model is all-new inside and out, according to the US automaker. And while its new sleeker looks may take some time to settle in with fans, those who like to take their Mustangs to third-party tuners won’t be as enthusiastic this time around because of Ford’s tougher onboard security measures.

The Ford Mustang is known to be one of the most tuner-friendly cars around. However, the upcoming S650 seventh-gen model could change that reputation, and not in a good way. Speaking to Ford Authority, Mustang’s Chief Engineer Ed Krenz noted that the latest model utilized the company’s new Fully Networked Vehicle (FNV) electrical architecture, making for some good and bad news.

The good news being the convenience of getting over-the-air updates and added cybersecurity against hackers, with cars being practically connected computers on wheels these days. However, Ford’s FNV will also restrict the car’s tuning potential, which is likely to upset Mustang fans.

Since the car’s entire “stack” will be encrypted, including the ECU, third-party tuners are going to have a tough time getting their mods to work. For instance, the car’s turbocharger and/or other components could shut down if the onboard security system detects an unauthenticated actor.

Ford can expect backlash from die-hard Mustang customers and aftermarket tuners, though for now, the automaker says that it is open to collaborating with tuners in offering “performance enhancements or tunes” for the all-new 2.3 liter EcoBoost and 5.0 liter Coyote V8 engines. What that means for 2024 Mustang owners in terms of modability remains to be seen.

Once a charismatic analog muscle car, the latest Ford Mustang seems to be undergoing a major transformation towards becoming a modern, computer on wheels. The S650 series features a fully digital cockpit running the Unreal engine-powered Sync 4 system, advanced driver assistance tech, Alexa integration, and the ability to rev the engine via the key fob remotely.

While all this tech (and the occasional gimmick) does have its appeal, it ultimately requires carmakers to bake in more security measures to prevent hacking, which in turn locks down their tuning potential that ends up annoying petrolheads.

Here’s hoping Ford can find the right balance with the upcoming S650 Mustang that doesn’t alienate the muscle car’s core audience, while also maintaining its appeal with the younger, more techy crowd.