Bullitt Mustang, all the drama, all the music

In Car Reviews, Ford, Mustang by Jonathan Humphrey

There are many addictive things about every version of the Ford Mustang but the Bullitt is the special one.

At dinner at a recent car launch, chatting about favourite cars, I found not a ‘solitary man’ or woman, that doesn’t love a Mustang, the UK’s most popular sports car. It conjures up all kinds of automotive magic.

Listen to the Johnny Cash Playlist

It’s a dream car and at £50685 more achievable and cheaper per pound for this much horsepower than any of the real supercars, with more pizzazz than you can ever realise this side of the speed limit on British roads; and, if you buy one, you become part of the Ford performance club.

That might not be your automatic association with the blue oval but motor racing, fast cars, muscle cars and macho pick-ups and supercars have been the Ford thang since the early days of the Model T way back in Detroit in 1908.

The Mustang Bullitt is not a car you pick ‘one piece at a time’ like a German car. Bullitt is Fastback only, six-speed manual only, the options are few, apart from MagneRide adaptive suspension for £1600, it’s fully loaded. The only real choice is dark Highland Green Metallic, the exclusive Bullitt colour, or strangely Shadow Black is available, I doubt there have been any takers for that option unless you are the ‘Man in Black’.

To save you getting ‘hurt’ the Mustang is specced with safety features galore – pre-collision assist, electronic stability control, adaptive cruise. And for a modern-day Steve McQueen lane departure warning and lane-keeping aid. Other necessary additions include launch control, line-lock and selectable driving modes including snow/wet, sport+, track and drag mode.

To enhance its butch nature, black high gloss 5-spoke alloys, six-piston red Brembo brake calipers at the front, heavy-duty front springs and larger rear sway bar and a uniquely tuned chassis with a Torsen limited-slip diff

On the inside, the white cue ball gear knob is a cool, retro touch. The not heated, Recaro seats, are American – big, they complement the car and are very comfortable they do make it slightly difficult in the back, but nobody rides in the Bullitt Mustang for free, as expected from a 2+2. The feeling of sitting low down in the car does make it slightly hard to see the world and the seat-back is an awkward manual operation which is a bit odd as half the seat is electric.

To ‘get rhythm’ there’s a thumping 1000 watt Bose sound system with an enormous woofer in the boot for your favourite American rock or new country playlist. The Ford Sync 3 connectivity works well with satnav and DAB radio. The bright appearance of the Sync 3 is easy-to-read but rather out of keeping with the overall ambience of the car, I’d like something more distinctly Mustang designed, not just a Mustang start-up screen. These days I prefer to just plug in and use Apple Carplay. Wireless charging, however, is not available, but Androids are accommodated.

It doesn’t compare at all to a Porsche or BMW sports car, but making any comparison misses the point. This is truly an enthusiasts car, you would not even consider the Bullitt without some kind of passion for Johnny Cash, retro Americana, big blue skies, apple pie, and country music.

Fire up the free-revving Bullitt V8 for the first time and the drama starts. Savour the sound of the epic engine, power 459PS, immense torque by the bucket load at 529Nm and a redline at 7400rpm. The Bullitt feels big, but still with a wholesome 0-62mph in just 4.9 secs, the sheer sound of rapid acceleration is more than compelling with the impossible ability to blast it to 163mph.

On my week with the car, ‘Sunday morning coming down’ to Bristol wasn’t the most relaxing drive, mega downshifts in the big green Bristol city, become a little annoying when trying to navigate, the Bullitt, this isn’ San Francisco.

‘In my life’ I have been in some tricky situations, but negotiating the backstreets while my wife and I visited my step-daughter rates high – twice nearly beaching the car on the kerb at the front. Followed by a seven-point turn down a very narrow street, which then turned out to be a dead-end, small manoeuvres are not designed for muscle cars.

All right, this also isn’t good, the way you lose 15 miles of range just popping to the shops. But, it’s more than compensated for by the smiles per mile. Everybody notices this de-badged car more than anything on the road, especially younger people, totally unclear of what it is, fumbling for their phones, just what Instagram was made for.

On the road in the Bullitt, B-roads are hard work and country lanes, downright hair-raising. A-roads are the best to keep the wallet-breaking fuel consumption north of the horrendous WLTP figures which can range from 13.4-28.2mpg, I averaged about 23.2mpg.

This week I’ve been everywhere’ around Dorset seeking a perfect drive for this car. As like many cars, it’s maybe just too powerful, excessive for our hectic British roads, but that’s not the point it has a lot of the lost excitement taken from this year, it’s what we need right now and to lose it would make me ‘cry’ cry’ cry’. I did not want to see this car leave, it was taken away this morning, leaving me wondering “will this really be the last of the V8s?”

It is flawed, ‘I won’t back down’ on this, no car is perfect but the drama this car evokes is priceless and a ‘thing called love’.

So, Mustang ‘we’ll meet again’, I have long said since the first European Mustangs were available to us, “The best Mustang is probably the one we haven’t seen yet”, the electric Mach-E will be a game-changer, Mustang fans will just keep loving it, will we ever see an-electric Bullitt Fastback, who knows…Keep on rocking in the free world.

Car reviewed: Ford Mustang Bullitt Fastback, on the road price £49,085 price as tested £50,685 0-62mph 4.9secs Top speed 163mph Engine V8 5038cc 8-cylinder unleaded EU6.2 Fuel Economy Combined 22.8mpg CO2 emissions 277g/km Max Power 459PS@7000rpm Torque 529Nm@4600rpm Transmission 6-speed manual

Jonathan Humphrey

The man from Drive.co.uk

After many, many years of being passionate about cars, spending too much money on cars and too much time driving. I now spend my time running and developing Drive.co.uk and creating a bold expressive new motoring lifestyle website along with some very good writers.