REVIEW | 2019 Ford Mustang Bullitt is the benchmark of cool
There have been Bullitt Mustangs before, in 2001 and 2008, but this is the first to be availed in SA and other right-hand-drive markets, thanks to the sixth-generation Mustang now being sold globally.
The Mustang Bullitt on test here shares the same naturally aspirated 5.0l V8 with the Mustang GT model, but the name alone tells a story that’s a little different.
A heavy-duty induction system from the Mustang Shelby GT350 hikes up power to 338kW, a 7kW boost above a standard GT, while the torque figure remains unchanged at 529Nm.
Only 50 Bullitt Mustangs were brought into the country and all are spoken for. It enjoys specific styling cues, such as special Dark Highland Green paint, chrome accents on blackened 19-inch Bullitt alloys with red-painted Brembo brakes, and Black NitroPlate exhaust tips along with an active valve performance exhaust system that sounds brutal. All of this makes the Bullitt an attractively assertive dark lord of a car.
Inside you will find the stock Mustang interior, which was recently updated with a 12-inch LCD instrument cluster but touched up with a mix of distinct Bullitt-specific items, such as bucket seats with contrasting green stitching as standard.
There’s a numbered nameplate, a steering wheel featuring the Bullitt logo instead of the galloping stallion and, certainly the most special attribute of all, a six-speed manual transmission with a white “cue ball” gear lever, elevating the Bullitt to about the only car that still has a foot clutch stoking a naturally aspirated V8 engine.
As you’d expect, you have to drive it everywhere, be it fast or slow. If you still have the leg muscles and any interest left, you will find the clutch and gear lever action is light enough for heavy traffic conditions.
When the roads clear and full-bore upchanges are required, it delivers snickety-enough shifts and, if you fiddle with its digital menu, you will find a setting that activates rev-matching function, making for loud throttle blips that turn mundane downshifts into entertainment value and an announcement of your presence.
The Bullitt offers an appreciable performance of fairly good thrust and handling, thanks to noticeably firmer damping brought by retuned springs, anti-roll bars, a stiffer rear subframe and a Torsen limited-slip differential.
This didn’t result in the test car being excessively firm-riding because of the optionally fitted Magnetorheological adaptive dampers that counter surface irregularity in milliseconds.
Six-piston Brembo stoppers give strong retardation, and because it’s a manual, 0-100km/h arrives in a claimed 4.5 seconds, which is 0.2 seconds slower than in the 10-speed auto-equipped GT model. But the Bullitt enjoys a higher top speed of 263km/h instead of the GT’s 250km/h. The car returned a low 8.4l/100km on a long freeway jaunt, but back in suburbia it quaffed on average 14l/100km.
It’s a visceral coupe, but weighing 1,851kg and being 4,794mm long, it was never going to be a sporty and nimble athlete. Despite Ford tightening the suspension, there’s still evidence of bucking-Bronco waywardness that requires focus when charging down challenging back routes.
But there’s a pleasing and reassuring balance and tautness in its rear-drive chassis and, given some room, I imagine it might stand its ground against its agile German price rival that possesses more sophisticated suspension. It’s good fun.
The Mustang was born cool and the Bullitt movie made it even cooler. On cold morning starts, the acoustic contents coming out its quartet of big-bore exhausts may very well be a mechanical rendition of The Troggs’s famous song, which goes: “Wild thing, you make my heart sing.”
Type: Six-speed Manual
Type: Rear wheel drive
Top speed: 263km/h
0-100km/h: 4.5 sec (claimed)
Fuel Consumption: 12.41/100km (claimed), 14l/100km (as tested)
LED daytime driving running lights, rain-sensing wipers, keyless access, climate control, rear camera park distance control, leather upholstery, high beam assist, Bluetooth, navigation, electric folding mirrors, auto on/off lights, adaptive cruise control, ABS, stability control, seven airbags, limited slip differential
Cost of ownership
Warranty: 4 years/120,000km
Service Plan: 6 years/90,000km
Lease*: R21,562 per month
* at 10% interest over 60 months no deposit
Ford Mustang Bullitt
WE LIKE: Looks, roaring exhaust, exclusivity
WE DISLIKE: It could use a supercharger
VERDICT: Benchmark of gruff cool
Motor News star rating
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BMW M2, 302kW/550Nm - R972,030