Ford’s latest Bullitt builds on its best-driving Mustang GT yet. Steve McQueen would approve.
The Ford Mustang will always have a place in cinematic history. It had a starring role in the 1968 movie Bullitt with Steve McQueen behind the wheel, speeding after bad guys through San Francisco in what is, without question, one of the greatest car chase scenes ever filmed.
The 2019 Mustang Bullitt is a homage to McQueen's movie star car; Ford previously released similar special editions in 2001 and 2008. But this is more than just an appearance package. Yes, underneath that classic Dark Highland Green paint, Ford's fitted this Bullitt with a bit more of the good stuff.
Under the hood, you'll find the same 5.0-liter V8 as the standard Mustang GT, but it gets an open-air induction system, a larger throttle body and the intake manifold from the Shelby GT350. The result is an increased output of 480 horsepower -- 20 more than the base Mustang GT -- though torque output remains the same at 420 pound-feet. Ford says the Bullitt will run all the way up to 163 miles per hour, compared to the GT's 155-mph top end.
Every Bullitt gets the Mustang's GT Performance Package, which includes a Torsen limited-slip differential, upgraded front springs and a larger front aero splitter. Grippy Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tires wrap around Bullitt-specific 19-inch wheels, with larger 275/40-series rubber in the rear and 255/40 up front.
Aside from the big Bullitt badge on the rear, over the faux gas cap (that's where Mustangs used to drink from, remember), this pony is devoid of badges. The Mustang's honeycomb grille loses its usual silver pony, and there's no rear decklid spoiler, like on other GT Performance Pack Mustangs. Oh, and while you can get the Bullitt in Shadow Black, you shouldn't. If I see one of these in anything besides Dark Highland Green, I'm leaving a note on the windshield.
The Bullitt can only be had with a six-speed manual transmission -- with an appropriate cue-ball shifter, natch. You can turn on a rev-matching feature if you wish, but I can't imagine driving a stick without doing my own heel-and-toe action.
This special edition also gets Ford's active performance exhaust, which in Track mode, offers glorious V8 burble that'll never cease to turn heads. If you'd rather go gentle into that good night, the Bullitt can be set to Quiet mode upon start-up.
In addition to Track mode, you get all the other Mustang GT settings: Normal, Sport, Drag Strip and Snow. Within some of those modes, steering effort can be switched between Comfort, Normal and Sport, and thankfully, there's a My Mode function that works as an individual setting, allowing you to set the different performance parameters exactly the way you want them and then save that profile for the future. Oh, and let's not forget line-lock -- the Mustang's rad burnout tech is featured on the Bullitt, as well.
Really, the Bullitt doesn't feel much different than a regular Mustang GT from behind the wheel. It still offers linear power delivery and impressive handling -- with enough tomfoolery baked in so I can still swing the rear end around a corner. And like the GT with a manual transmission, fuel efficiency isn't the best: 15 mpg in the city, 25 on the highway and 18 combined.
The added power is only really noticeable in straight-line acceleration. Otherwise, the Bullitt has nicely weighted, responsive steering, and the optional $1,695 MagneRide adjustable dampers keep it flat and balanced while cornering. Yes, like the standard Mustang GT, the Bullitt can attack back roads with incredible grace and poise.
For an extra $2,100 you can spec the Bullitt Electronics Package, which gets you embedded navigation, a premium sound system, ambient lighting, driver's seat memory functions and blind-spot monitoring with cross-traffic alert. Lane-keeping assist and adaptive cruise control don't appear to be on offer, though basic cruise control is standard. You can also order Recaro front sport seats for an extra $1,595.
Bullitt Mustangs come standard with Ford's trick 12-inch digital instrument cluster, with its crisp graphics and reconfigurable displays. Infotainment duties are handled by Ford's Sync 3 system, which is as easy to use here as it is in any other Mustang, and comes with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and a Wi-Fi hotspot.
The Bullitt starts at $46,595, which is $7,260 more than a Mustang GT Premium coupe. With all the bells and whistles, my tester comes to $52,980, including $995 for destination. Considering you can easily option other Mustang GT models up over the $50K mark, a little extra cash for some super-cool style seems like a fair ask to me.
Of course, the Bullitt isn't about being the fanciest Mustang. It's all about heritage and emotion. That glorious V8 rumble surrounds the car like a halo; one of America's finest sports coupes is cooler in Bullitt guise. I may have spent most of my life as a nerdy outcast type, but in the Bullitt, finally, I'm cool.
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