Ford Mustang Bullitt – A special breed Horse!
South Africans LOVE the Ford Mustang. Despite the car not being available in right-hand drive, or in Ford SA dealerships for decades, our obsession with the Mustang never died down. We got the occasional indulgence when a left-hand drive model would be imported to our shores, although this did little to quench our desire. In 2015, Ford finally brought a right-hand-drive Mustang to SA. And with the model receiving a facelift globally for the 2019 model year, Ford SA has decided to introduce the facelift to South Africans along with the Bullitt model.
The Bullitt was introduced in 2018 to celebrate 50 years since the launch of the iconic film, in which the legend of the Mustang was solidified for the rest of history. With the Mustang in the movie being driven by racing driver turned actor Steve McQueen, the standard today Mustang receives race-inspired upgrades to celebrate the icon. Available in very limited numbers (although they are probably already sold out), the Bullitt isn’t just a regular 5.0 GT model with a badge thrown on, an assortment of stickers and a “limited edition” plaque finished off with different wheels. Oh no, this is a different kind of beast.
The iconic Coyote 5 litre V8 found in the regular (pre-facelift) Mustang GT has been massaged by adding an Open Air Induction System, as well as an updated intake manifold, 87mm throttle bodies, an active valve performance exhaust, and lastly a powertrain control module. The motor now produces 338kW, 32 more than normal, and 530 NM of torque. No turbos or superchargers anywhere in sight, just pure ‘Murican horses. And it sends all this power to the rear wheels, via a beautiful 6-speed manual gearbox (with rev-matching). Said gearbox is controlled by a short-throw gear lever, topped with a white cue ball, which harks back to the original 1968 Mustang. This sends the Mustang from 0 to 100 km/h in 4.2 seconds (depending of course on how well you shift), and on to a top speed in excess of 250 km/h.
The Bullitt can be had in one of two colour options: Dark Highland Green, just like the star car from the movie, or Shadow Black. These colour options will be available exclusively on the Bullitt variant, and so will the 19-inch black “Torq thrust” wheels, which pay homage to those on the iconic car. Behind these wheels sit red Brembo brake callipers. The suspension can be also upgraded to the super comfortable and also super firm when it needs to be MagRide. The rest of the exterior is based on the new facelifted Mustang, which has been available in the US and some other markets for just over a year. The front features a larger trapezoidal black, chrome-trimmed grille, with no badging. On either side of the grille, we find slimmer, LED headlamps and daytime running lights. Below the headlights, we find slim turning indicators, which sit above air intakes.
Moving down the side, apart for the model-specific wheels and brake callipers, very little has changed from the pre-facelift ‘Stang. Gone is the typical “5.0” badging on the fender though. The Mustang has flared wheel arches, and strong character lines down the side, giving the Mustang a purposeful look. It maintains a long bonnet, with a short mid and tail section typical of a sporty coupe. The rear remains very similar, however now we have 4 tailpipes sitting in the diffuser instead of 2. The tri-bar vertical taillights curve slightly inwards now, giving them almost a boomerang-like shape. We find the only badge on the exterior of the car in the middle of the tailgate, where the old fuel filler cap in the ‘68 car used to be. What does the badge read? Ford? No. Mustang? No. It simply reads Bullitt, further emphasising the legendary status of the car and the movie it celebrates.
Moving onto the interior, not much has changed from the pre-facelift model, except for one thing. Gone is the old analogue instrument cluster, and in its place, we find a marvellous 12” screen inspired by the one in the Ford GT hypercar. It provides a wonderful Rev Counter which stretches all the way across the top of the screen. A digital speedo, as well as information regarding vehicle mode, trip data, fuel consumption (probably the last thing you want to see) and other car-related info, can be accessed via the screen. The screen sits behind a wonderful, almost deep dished steering wheel, with the badge in the centre of it also reading “Bullit”. On it, you will find controls for the instrument cluster screen, as well as buttons which control things such as media. The rest of the interior maintains a similar “throwback style” as the pre-face model. Special features for the Bullitt model include a 1000 watt, 12 speaker Bang and Olufsen sound system, although honestly you’re more likely going to want to listen to the V8 all the time. The front seats can be optioned as leather-wrapped, with body colour matched stitching Recaro sports seats. An individually numbered plaque (thankfully not a “one of x” monstrosity) will feature on the passenger side of the dashboard to remind your passenger how cool you are. The central infotainment screen which sits above the aeronautically inspires toggle switches has been upgraded to Fords latest Sync 3 system and features goodies such as Apple CarPlay, Andriod Auto, as well as satellite navigation.
The rest of the interior is standard fare Mustang. The rear seats are small and can fit children or small adults up to 1.5 meters tall in relative discomfort. Anyone taller will not be able to fit at all, so if you’re looking to carry passengers, get them the Uber app. The boot is fairly large for a coupe, although the oddly shaped opening means getting stuff into it will be a challenge. Those useless rear seats? They fold flat, allowing you to have a larger boot. The quality of the interior is definitely not up to par with German rivals. Although it is durable, the materials feel cheap, and as though they belong in a car less than half the price. Thing is though, all is forgiven when you put the car in “Line Lock” mode, burn some rubber, and make a lot of noise.
See, that is the appeal of the Mustang. Although you could get into an S5, M440i or C43 for similar or slightly more money, they don’t have the same character as the Mustang. Whereas the Germans are more serious, more premium and more focused, the Mustang is a joker, the type of car you’re excited to wake up at 4 am to go for a long drive-in. Yes, it might not be as comfortable, as premium, or as spacious as the others, but when you’re spending around a million Rands on a sports car, you want something that puts a smile on your face. And with the Bullitt, not only do you get that, but you also get the added benefit of exclusivity. Every petrolhead you drive past will tip their hat to you, and that alone is probably worth the (unconfirmed) price tag.