UK Drive: Ford’s Mustang Bullitt brings a slice of movie magic to the muscle car market
Ford’s Mustang Bullitt is a reference to a bygone era – but what’s it like to drive in the modern age? Jack Evans finds out
What is it?
As far as birthday presents go, celebrating 50 years since the release of cult classic Bullitt by creating a tweaked Mustang in the spirit of the original is a pretty good one. That’s exactly what Ford has done, by taking its current-generation Mustang V8 and giving it some added Hollywood magic.
Green, mean and in the spirit of Steve McQueen, it could be one tribute model well worth considering – but we’ve taken it out on to the roads to find out for sure.
Of course, the most noticeable thing here is the striking green paint, which harks back to the original Bullitt Mustang. Retro-style wheels, a blacked-out grille and a smattering of Bullitt badges show that this isn’t any ordinary ‘Stang. It’s also had a series of mechanical changes over the regular car too – but we’ll come to those shortly.
It may be a special edition, but the Bullitt is a relatively subtle affair – save for when you press the engine starter button, that is.
What’s under the bonnet?
The Bullitt uses the same 5.0-litre V8 that you’ll find in the regular Mustang. However, Ford has added larger throttle bodies, a bigger air filter and a new exhaust system too. It means that the engine can breathe more easily, and bumps the overall power figure up by 14bhp over the regular ‘stang – now a considerable 453bhp. There’s also 529Nm of torque, and it’s sent to the rear wheels alone via a six-speed manual gearbox.
Ford claims that the Bullitt will crack 0-60mph in just 4.6 seconds, and hit a top speed of 155. Economy-wise, it’s not the best – but anything with a naturally aspirated V8 is unlikely to be. It’ll return a claimed 22.8mpg combined, and emit 227g/km CO2.
What’s it like to drive?
The driving experience is, as you’d expect, dominated by the engine. Loud and now breathing better than ever, it gives plenty of torque throughout the rev range, and it’s just as happy being revved out as it is providing boatloads of in-gear shove. The six-speed manual is pleasant to use, too; it’s relatively light, but it’s accurate.
One of the stand-out features is actually the brakes. They’re upgraded Brembo units, and the stopping performance they provide is excellent. Confidence-inspiring, they mean that you can hit the anchors later than you’d expect to be able to in a car of this size. The ride, thanks to Ford’s Magneride system, is supple without failing to provide the car with a decent amount of support, too.
How does it look?
The little features unique to the Bullitt help to lift the overall look of the Mustang considerably. The de-badged grille looks great – in our eyes at least – while the wheels benefit from a more substantial amount of tyre than we’re used to in sports cars, giving a more old-school look.
We’re not huge fans of the prominent Bullitt badge at the rear of the car, however; the rest of the car is subtle — making this branding seem a little too obvious. We’d rather it had the conventional Mustang ‘Pony’ badge on the back, as it would only add to the car’s under-the-radar appeal.
It’s a clever, modern take on the original Bullitt Mustang, and it manages to do so without being tacky or cheesy.
What’s it like inside?
The Bullitt’s cabin follows in a similar vein to the mechanical side of things, in that it uses standard Mustang architecture with a few choice upgrades. Our car came with a set of excellent Recaro sport seats, which provide plenty of support as well as looking fantastic (the Recaro logo trimmed in the same colour as the exterior is a particularly neat touch).
The cue ball gear selector is a throwback to the original, but it feels great to use too. Meanwhile you’ve also got a Bullitt name plate in front of the passenger, along with the car’s unique production number – the Bullitt is a limited-edition model, though Ford hasn’t stated how many it actually plans on producing.
What’s the spec like?
The regular Mustang gets plenty of equipment as standard and, as a result, so does the Bullitt. The main system offering is Ford’s latest Sync3 infotainment package, which includes features such as satellite navigation and smartphone connectivity. The Sync system has come on in leaps and bounds in recent years, but it’s still not quite matching rival offerings when it comes to ease-of-use or visual clarity.
An upgraded Bang and Olufsen sound system is included in the Bullitt too, which comprises of 12 individual speakers dotted throughout the cabin. It’s really very good, and provides an impressively clear sound.
Apple CarPlay and Android Auto systems are both fitted to the Bullitt as standard, and they help to seamlessly integrate your smartphone into the car’s infotainment display.
The Ford Mustang Bullitt could quite have easily been a parody. Anything harking back to a bygone era is threatened with the possibility of being a little clichéd, and at risk of not being a solid proposition. The Bullitt has managed to avoid this, however.
It drives exceptionally well, and has been tweaked just enough to make it feel special without tainting the overall driving experience. And that’s the crux of it. The Bullitt feels special – which is just why you should consider one.