The Mustang Bullitt is the rare-but-recurring special-edition Mustang you’re probably after if you want to fly fast under the radar.
Recently returning to market for 2019, the Mustang Bullitt is an optional package that jacks up the popular Mustang GT with uniquely discreet and sinister looks, a mildly re-tuned 5-litre V8, and virtually all of the latest tech and goodies the Mustang lineup has to offer.
The scowling face, unique blackout-gloss wheels and big red Brembo brake calipers communicate that this is a modern and highly-capable take on old-school cool. My tester’s Highland Green paint was inspired by the namesake Mustang from the 1968 movie Bullitt.
As this is a low-key, high-exclusivity car, there’s no spoiler, nothing flashy-looking outside, and no “5.0” badge on the fender, though there is a telltale cross-hair badge on the trunk lid, and a serialized “Bullitt” number plaque on the dash.
A tweaked version of the Coyote five-litre V8 makes 475 horsepower (15 more than the regular Mustang GT), thanks in part to revised management software and an intake manifold and throttle system lifted from the screaming Shelby GT 350.
Bullitt only comes with a six-speed manual, complete with a white gloss shifter knob.
Ultimately, it’s everything the Mustang GT has to offer, with a bit more power, a bit less visual flair, and amounts to a package ideal for the shopper who wants their performance served up in a quiet, classy and understated package.
Feature content goodies include a fantastic high-resolution all-digital instrument cluster, a powerful B&O Play stereo system, manually-adjustable Recaro performance seats, and push-button ignition.
Ambient cabin mood-lighting, a full (and excellent) navigation and connectivity system, and automatic climate control were also fitted. To this writer’s eye, the Mustang’s cabin looks more modern and upscale than its direct competitors (Challenger, Camaro), and offers, by far, the best outward sight lines of the three. Plenty of at-hand storage and charging provisions are within easy reach, too.
Rear seats are (just) adequate in size for the kids, and the trunk should accommodate a two-person road trip’s worth of weekend luggage, or a family grocery run, with no issue. Of course, this one’s far from a grocery-getter.
The Bullitt’s engine is a gem. Unlike larger-displacement competitor V8 engines, the 475 horses come alive in a rabid surge as the sweet-sounding V8 spins, grinning, to its thrilling 7,400 rpm redline. It lacks the low-end torque of a bigger V8, but more than makes up for it with the explosive surge of high-revving thrust. It revs to the moon, and sounds amazing doing it.
You’ve got to keep this engine on a rolling boil, using more revs, more of the time, for maximum performance. This means frequent use of the six-speed shifter, which is no problem since the clutch is rush-hour friendly while holding plenty of power, and the throw is relatively short and solid.
You can turn automatic rev-matching on too, if you like, at a button press. Heck, you can even set the Bullitt’s exhaust into one of four volume settings on the fly, and even program a timer to keep the exhaust stealthy during the times of your choosing, perhaps from 6 to 7 a.m., so you don’t wake the neighbours when you leave for work. Or, turn the ‘quiet start’ timer off, and set the exhaust to track mode, which drenches the cabin, and everything for about half a mile, with a throbbing, nearly-exotic V8 rumble. “Time to get up!”
Notable gadgets include the fully-digital and fully-customizable instrument cluster, and adaptive suspension and steering systems that can be re-tuned into various modes on the fly. Want to switch Bullitt from a rip-snorting race-car to a quiet and mild-mannered cruiser? Just tap a button. You’re the boss of this car.
More peaceful drive modes see Bullitt ride with a comfortable firmness, and demonstrate a cruising-friendly laziness to the steering. Here, it’s no more haywire or hardcore or loud than a Honda Civic Si. Noise levels stay nicely in check until about 105 km/h, after which point, noise levels start to creep up.
Sportier modes see heavy and fast steering which directs the taut and almost startlingly-responsive chassis with mischievously small inputs.
The Brembo brakes lack absolute precision in terms of pedal feel, but stopping power is fierce and consistent, even during hard use, and even from a light press. Just watch the tires: equipped with high-performance Michelin rubber, grip falls off fast on cooler fall nights.
Entry and exit are a little snug if you’re of above-average size, many interior panels are easily scratched and marked, and if you get carried away with the exhaust sound (likely), you’ll be paying dearly at the pumps, and possibly, at your traffic-lawyer’s office. This one is easy to get carried away with, which will help Ford sell all copies quickly.
Just be careful — if you get your hands on the new Mustang Bullitt your local radar cop will hear you coming.
- Model: 2019 Ford Mustang Bullitt
- Engine: 5-litre V8, 475 horsepower
- Drivetrain: rear-wheel drive
- Transmission: 6-speed manual
- Features: navigation, cabin mood-lighting, automatic climate control, four-mode exhaust system, fully-digital instrumentation, push-button start, drive-mode selector, blind-spot monitoring, B&O Play stereo system
- What’s hot: intoxicating engine sound, thrilling performance, discreet looks, authentic sports car moves, powerful brakes, good outward visibility
- What’s not: may get drivers in trouble, tight entry and exit, tight rear seats, some easily-marked interior plastics
- Starting price (Mustang Bullitt): $56,525