San Francisco, CA. Ford knocked this launch event out of the park. The very early morning flight to San Francisco, all-afternoon drive, outdoor cocktails in frigid early August San Fran evening weather, even earlier morning start the next day and flights home should have all journalists in attendance a grumpy bunch. By the time we were lined up to climb aboard our airport shuttles, we were all smiles.
It’s simple really. The 2019 Ford Mustang Bullitt is a fabulous automobile. Ford’s blended all the best ‘Stang elements under one stealth-looking shell that everyone can appreciate. Actually, here’s where I’d have to complain about the Bullitt – it’s too accessible. I make a point of watching my car movies once a year (Ronin, Vanishing Point, Cannon Ball Run, Gone in 60 Seconds (original and remake)) and, when I get to Bullitt, I’m always blown away by how much effort is required on McQueen’s behalf in order to get the most out of his 4-speed manual transmission, 1968 390 V8 Mustang GT Fastback.
Gimme a minute, or 10. I’m watching the chase scene now…
You can clearly see, and hear, the car struggling for grip, trying to stay the course under hard throttle and being double-clutched. The 2019 Bullitt could be driven by my 68-year old mother, and quickly. The standard 6-speed manual gearbox and clutch have some weight behind them but there’s little real struggle involved in working the lever. The same goes for all other controls. With drive mode set in “Normal”, the Mustang is perfectly at home cruising about the roads around Russian Hill or heading to your local Costco.
One the main ingredients in making the new Bullitt so comfortable is the MagneRide damping system that included adaptive dampers. These superb components not only improve the Mustang’s level of compliance over rougher surfaces but are able to quite nearly negate the fastbacks hefty weight over the front wheels. Through a long series of switchbacks just south of La Honda, I quickly gained confidence in the car’s ability to grip and deliver what I asked of it.
Even here, I preferred the dampers set in “Normal”, giving me the necessary amount of wheel travel to cope with changing road surfaces. Steering too suited me best when left in “Normal”. The cool thing here is that assistance can be modified independently through one of the toggle switches below the infotainment unit.
Big brakes, big power
Although I love big power as much as the next guy, I’m an even bigger fan of serious braking power. The Bullitt’s red-painted Brembo brakes (six-piston front, single piston rear calipers) with larger vented rotors are brilliant at what they do. On a few occasions, I pushed the car deep into some of the tighter hairpin turns but never did I run out of room to manoeuvre. Between the suspension and the brakes, I was sitting pretty.
It also sounded pretty darn good too thanks to the standard Active Valve performance exhaust system. I’ve mentioned “Normal’ as my go-to mode – for the exhaust system, only “Track” will do. I could note here that I was hoping for more overrun noises but it’s not the case. Under hard acceleration however, it’s like a low-flying helicopter.
And so, on the topic of power, the stock Mustang GT is no slouch. In order to boast somewhat, and as is traditional for the Bullitt, the 2019 edition’s 5.0-litre V8’s output is rated at 480-horsepower at 7,000 rpm, up from 460, while torque remains unchanged at 420 lb.-ft. The gains come from an open air box, Shelby GT350 intake manifold, and larger 87-millimeter throttle body. The Bullitt also gets unique powertrain control module calibration that is responsible for the V8’s responsiveness, and equally smooth power delivery.
The 6-speed manual transmission is geared in such a way as to reach 100 km/h in 2nd and in scarcely more than 4 seconds. The V8 will happily rev to over 7,000 rpm and that takes me to my happy place. Although this is true and as I’ve said, the Mustang Bullitt is just as content sneaking around, lurking in the shadows and stalking the bad guys.
Mysterious and oh-so desirable
Like the original ’68 Mustang in the movie, the 2019 have no visible Blue Ovals, prancing ponies or even GT letters on it. The only indication that this is a Bullitt comes from the faux rear gas-cap with the word BULLITT inscribed on it. That, and the must-select Dark Highland green paint scheme, Torque Thrust design black 19-inch wheels and wide blacked out front grille. As common as Mustang GTs are, the Bullitt’s simple physical mods, including the deletion of the rear spoiler, make it stand out. Such much for being stealthy…
The 2019 Ford Mustang Bullitt will retail for $57,525 and include the likes of a 12-inch digital instrument cluster, Ford’s brilliant SYNC 3 infotainment system and more. The only option are the $1,800 Recaro seats with green stitching.
This is a superb automobile and it captures the essence of McQueen’s Lt. Frank Bullitt’s super cool demeanour. I love it.