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REVIEW – Ford Mustang 5.0 V8 Bullitt


Ford Mustang Fastback 5.0 V8 Bullitt
  • Exterior Styling
  • Interior Finish
  • Engine/Performance
  • Ride/Handling
  • Economy
  • Practicality
  • Equipment
  • Value For Money
4.5

Summary

The Mustang Bullitt is in its own class of coolness. To recreate such an iconic car is a delicate act, but Ford has absolutely nailed it. From the Dark Highland Green paint, to the retro-looking Recaro bucket seats, this Mustang makes you feel like Steve McQueen. Throw in a marvellous V8 soundtrack through the Mustang’s switchable exhaust and all that’s missing is the steep streets of San Francisco. Buy one while you still can!


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Exterior Styling

When Ford gave the Mustang a facelift in 2018, it was welcomed unanimously in the UK. It took a car that was perhaps a bit lardy, and gave it a more chiselled, toned appearance.

The Mustang Bullitt builds on the facelifted Fastback model, adding some unique design flourish to ensure it stands out.

Perhaps the most obvious is the exclusive Dark Highland Green metallic paint. This is the same colour as Steve McQueen’s 1968 version. It is a very deep, dark green, which looks stealthy under normal conditions yet sparkles in sunlight. It’s marvellous.

Somewhat surprisingly the Mustang Bullitt is also available in black, but I just can’t fathom why anyone would snub the authentic colour.

You won’t find a Mustang motif on the exterior either. The front grille is plain black, whilst the boot lid features the Bullitt ‘target’ logo. Thankfully the huge “5.0” badges from the front wings have been omitted.

19-inch wheels are finished in black with a silver rim edge. They have a certain retro feel to them, which is perfect for this reimagined classic. Behind these are red brake calipers, which is a nice standout feature.

At the rear, the distinct rear taillight design looks as good as ever, while the switch to a quad exhaust system is a welcome improvement over the twin pipes from the pre-facelift model.

Above all else, the Mustang Bullitt is oozing with kerb appeal. Park it anywhere and there’s a good chance you will return to a crowd. And there is something satisfying about catching your reflection when driving past a shop window.

Interior Finish

I was fortunate enough to attend the launch event when the Mustang first came to the UK market in 2015. But one of the areas needing drastic improvement was the interior finish. With the facelift, Ford took steps to make these improvements.

On the whole, the result is effective. There are softer-touch materials on the dashboard brows. Crucially, the centre console has been given these softer materials too, a tenfold improvement over the hard, scratchy plastic finish seen on the earlier models.

The centrepiece of the cabin has to be the huge Recaro bucket seats. Coming standard on the Mustang Bullitt, they have a retro design to them in the same way as the alloy wheels, giving off that ‘re-imagined classic’ vibe. The word ‘Recaro’ is stitched onto the backrest in green, which compliments the exterior colour.

The Mustang Bullitt has a fully-digital instrument cluster, which is customisable and very modern. And yet it is housed in a deep-dish bezel reminiscent of classic muscle cars. The design is very clever.

You also get the white ‘cue ball’ gear knob as a nod to the original car. Everyone who saw this commented on how great it was. Sometimes it’s the simplest things that have the biggest impact.

The oversized steering wheel has the same Bullitt logo as on the boot lid, which serves as a constant reminder that this is a special model.

So whilst the cabin of the Mustang Bullitt is still not the most elegant or luxurious, it is still a nice place to be. Plus once you fire up that V8 engine any niggles about quality are soon forgotten…

Engine/Performance

There is no choice when it comes to the powertrain in the Mustang Bullitt. Thankfully no alternatives are required, because the standard offering is bang on the money for this car.

It’s a 5.0-litre, naturally aspirated V8 under that rather large bonnet. With 459PS and 529Nm, it is slightly more powerful than the version of this engine that features in the ‘regular’ Mustang, to give you a little bragging rights.

There’s only one choice of gearbox too – a 6-speed manual – which has a short, satisfying throw and a lovely weight to it. Put simply, it feels like you’re changing gear in a muscle car. That’s as authentic a sensation as you could hope for.

Power is sent to the rear wheels via a limited-slip differential. But despite the mountain of power the Mustang Bullitt is not what you’d consider blisteringly fast. 0-62mph takes 4.9 seconds, and the top speed is 163mph. It’s not exactly slow, but many ‘hot hatches’ would probably cause you some embarrassment at the lights.

But in truth, the Mustang is a laboured drive. Peak power comes at 7,250rpm, and the gears are so tall that there just never seems any urgency from the V8. But then to a certain extent that’s just the nature of a muscle car.

The V8 soundtrack is also the nature of a muscle car. And with the Mustang Bullitt you get a variable exhaust with modes ranging from ‘Quiet’ to ‘Race’. In the latter – where I spent every moment – you get a thunderous rumble from the exhaust pipes that just makes you want to drive. And thanks to rev-matching, every down-shift is accompanied by a satisfying blip of that mighty V8.

Ride/Handling

When you think of what it would be like to drive a muscle car, you probably think of long stretches of open road, heading towards the horizon on a crescendo of V8 soundwaves. I know I do.

If you translate that into handling speak, this is a car that needs to be comfortable on a long drive, which would usually result in a car that is out of its depth on a race track, or a bumpy British B-road.

Now I’ve driven a Mustang in standard form, and it has to be said that it copes very well with our British roads. But then again extensive development was carried out in Europe, so this isn’t altogether surprising.

If you want the best of all worlds though, there is the option of MagneRide suspension. It costs £1,600 but uses electro-magnets to adjust the damping. The car can even read the road surface and adjust to inputs in a fraction of a second.

It also means that different drive modes come with different damping settings. Ranging from the soft and comfortable ‘Normal’ mode, right up to the bone-shaking stiffness of ‘Race’ mode. That adjustability transforms the Mustang Bulliit into a very versatile vehicle and, for that reason, I think the MagneRide is worth the outlay.

Despite a more chiselled appearance, the Mustang Bullitt is a bit of a heifer, at 1,851kg. So you will not be surprised to find that the handling is on the same level of urgency as the engine. That being said, the turn-in is direct, with nicely-weighted steering, and grip is good through the wider rear tyres.

This is not a car that wants to slide everywhere, it is composed. And the Brembo brakes ensure you always have enough stopping power whatever the weather.

Economy

The words “Mustang” and “economy” are not usually all that complementary when put together. But it’s all relative. You don’t go to the North Pole if you’re not a fan of the cold, and you don’t buy a Ford Mustang if you’re looking for maximum fuel economy.

So when you consider this subjectively, anyone buying a Mustang Bullitt will most likely be pleasantly surprised. The average fuel consumption on the WLTP cycle is 23.9mpg. What’s more, I managed to achieve this in my time with the car, which comprised a variety of driving.

That’s actually not too bad. It’s only the same as most big V8 powerhouses; like the Jaguar F-Pace SVR we tested recently.

And also bear in mind that the Mustang Bullitt comes with none of those namby-pamby fuel saving systems like stop/start or cylinder shutdown. This is a gas-guzzling V8; and proud of it. Fair play to it.

CO2 emissions are on the high side – 287g/km to be precise – but all this really impacts is the first year VED. At the current rates it will cost you £2,175 when you purchase the vehicle. Subsequent years are at the standard £150, with the £325 surcharge in years 2-6 for being over £40,000.

Chances are any comparable cars will have similar running costs, so this by no means puts the Mustang Bullitt at a disadvantage. And a little bit of VED is a small price to pay to look this cool!

Practicality

Nobody would blame you for entering this section of the review with a high degree of scepticism. I mean, a V8 muscle car can’t be practical, surely? In some ways, you’d be entirely correct.

Despite being a two-door, 2+2 Fastback, this car is enormous. The bonnet is longer than most driveways, so you’ve virtually no chance of ascertaining where abouts on the horizon that poised shark nose is.

British car parks are also less generous than American ones. So rocking up at Asda in the ‘stang can end up being a tight squeeze. That, and it’s hard to put your shopping away when there is a crowd of people around your car taking a picture.

But beyond those minor inconveniences, the Mustang Bullitt has a lot going for it. The fact it even has rear seats is an advantage over two-seater sports cars. You won’t get fully-grown humans in the back, but it was fine for our toddler.

The boot is actually reasonably large – at 408 litres – but the opening is a little bit restrictive which would make loading larger cases a bit of a struggle.

A final grumble is in relation to safety. Even with enhanced safety features – more on those in a moment – the Mustang Bullitt still only achieves 3 stars in the Euro NCAP ratings. That’s not exactly reassuring, and in this day and age one would hope for better.

Putting all that aside, the Mustang Bullitt is actually an easy car to live with. I used it for a variety of trips, from a local shop to a long-distance commute. And with its adjustable drive modes it was a great companion at all times. This is a car you can – and want to – use every day.

Equipment

When it comes to specification, the Ford Mustang Bullitt is as generous as the portion size at an American Diner. You get the majority of toys as standard, with a small options list.

For convenience, you get keyless entry and go, auto lights, auto wipers, dual-zone climate control, and even pony-shaped puddle lights.

Ordinarily you would also get heated and cooled front seats, but this feature is deleted with the Recaro buckets. A worth trade off given how supportive and stylish they are.

The infotainment comes via the tried and tested SYNC 3 system. It features satellite navigation, Bluetooth connectivity, Apple CarPlay, AndroidAuto, DAB digital radio and a rather nice B&O sound system complete with a large subwoofer in the boot. So whether it be from your music or that V8, you’ll be feeling a rumble in the hot seat.

Safety has been – and to a degree still is – an issue with the Mustang. Ford has upped the offering on this facelifted car, fitting Pre Collision Assist with pedestrian detection, adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, lane keeping aid and distance alert as standard.

There’s a rear-view camera to help with reversing, and the digital instrument cluster comes as standard. It includes lots of customisation options, which allows you to change which dials are shown, the colour scheme and also whether the display changes based on the drive mode.

And speaking of drive modes, the Mustang Bullitt comes with ‘My Mode’ which allows you to fine tune a driving mode to suit your style, and access this quickly via the steering wheel controls.

The only selectable option on the Mustang Bullitt is the MagneRide suspension, so basically everything you can see, you get. It’s a comprehensive specification and won’t disappoint.

Value For Money

By this point in the review, you’re obviously wanting to purchase a Mustang Bullitt. And who could blame you; it’s a fantastic car that is almost certain to have a collectability to it. But therein lies one problem should you actually want one: they’re virtually all sold.

Scour high and low and you may just be lucky enough to find one for sale. So what will it cost?

Well the starting price for the Mustang Bullitt is £49,085 on the road. Throw in the MagneRide suspension – at £1,600 – and it becomes £50,685.

I challenge you to go and find a suitable alternative at this price point. Cars like the BMW M4 and Mercedes C43 AMG are faster, but also a lot more expensive. And few cars around the £50k mark will have the charm and character of the Mustang Bullitt.

Add in the likelihood of this car retaining value due to collectability and it seems to be a relative bargain.

If you are fortunate enough to be in a position to buy a Mustang Bullitt, then my advice would be to get one now, while you still can.

Between ever-tightening emissions regulations and just the limited number of this special edition available, it won’t be around forever. So grab one now, and you’re guaranteed to have a smile on your face.

Facts and Figures

Engine 5.0-litre, naturally-aspirated V8 petrol
Max power 459PS at 7,250rpm
Max torque 529Nm at 4,600rpm
Drivetrain 6-speed manual transmission, rear-wheel drive with limited-slip differential
0-62mph 4.9 seconds
Top speed 163mph
Fuel tank size 61 litres
Fuel consumption 23.9 mpg combined, WLTP
CO2 emissions 287 g/km WLTP
Kerb weight 1,851kg
Towing capacity N/A braked / N/A unbraked
Luggage capacity 408 litres
NCAP rating 3 stars
Base price £49,085
Price as tested £50,685
Company website www.ford.co.uk/cars/mustang/models-specs/mustang-bullitt

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