No car that I have tested, from luxury sedans, inexpensive crossovers, 8-seat SUVs, small roadsters, midsized four-doors, imposing trucks or anything in between has stirred the interest of my wife.
She holds these cars in the same regard I have for the plants she brings home from nurseries.
“Oh, that’s nice,” or “That one is pretty” is about all I can muster with my absolute naivety in botanical matters. And that’s about all she has to say about the vehicles that show up in our driveway each week.
But that was not the case when the 2019 Mustang Bullitt arrived. She wanted to go for a ride, and I was happy to accommodate. That’s because, for lack of a better way to phrase it, the Bullitt is a hell of a lot of fun.
The enjoyment starts as soon you ignite the 5-liter V8 and hear it roar into life.
God, it sounds good.
It’s a burbling, rumbling, thunderous refrain that simultaneously stirs the soul like a seasoned, 100-member choir and pumps the adrenaline like a death metal band just after a cocaine binge (take a listen to the video).
The Bullitt features active noise control, and drivers can select, quiet, normal, sport or track modes, with each step up the ladder adding decibels. There’s also quiet start, which Ford once dubbed “Good Neighbor Mode.” While I consider myself to be an extremely courteous neighbor, the Bullitt never saw anything but the most raucous setting I could program. When it comes to hearing the Bullitt, I took on a Machiavellian mindset and said to hell with the neighbors, I want to hear that stunning noise.
The Bullitt’s V8 cranks out 480-horsepower, 20 more than its GT counterpart, with 420 lb-ft torque while running on 93-octane. Off the line, the Bullitt will reach 60 MPH in 1.3 of my wife’s screams, which equates to 4.6 seconds according to other media outlets.
That time is slower than the lesser-powered GT with an automatic transmission, but I will readily accept the 0.4-second difference for the opportunity to do the shifting myself.
The clutch pedal takes some getting used to — it feels like it engages somewhere in the back seat during the initial drive — but short, accurate throws with the cue-ball shifter are extremely enjoyable.
The Mustang comes with rev-matching, which gives you a tease of wonderful engine noise with each downshift. It also means there is no need for heel-and-toe shifting, pleasant for me because I did not send myself through the front windshield by over-braking, usually the result when I attempt the method.
Even with rev-matching, changing gears in the Mustang does require some foresight. The Bullitt feels geared for long runs, so a premature downshift will cause the V8 to play a bit of catchup. However, there is a nice torque punch in the midrange as the tach soars to the redline.
While the Mustang is still synonymous with muscle, the Bullitt is no slouch in the bendy bits. Riding on sticky Michelins, it carves the corners with aplomb. Coupled with its roaring soundtrack, rev-matching, short throws on gear changes and responsive Brembo brakes, and I’d argue this muscle car is even more fun through tight switchbacks than the quarter-mile.
That said, the Bullitt is still comfortable on a leisurely cruise. One would be hard pressed to call it a luxuriously comfortable and smooth ride, but it won’t break your back or turn your pelvis to dust over any road imperfections.
Settling into the bolstered seats is akin to acting as the little spoon in a cuddle-fest. You feel cocooned, comfortable and at ease. The Bullitt’s all blank interior is visually pleasing with its metallic, retro switches that give a nod to the Mustang’s of yesteryear without looking outdated.
Color schemes can be switched on the 12-inch LCD gauge cluster, and the tach runs the entire length of the screen, giving drivers a nice sense of when they hit warp speed.
Chrome may look tacky on any car made after 1987, or maybe that’s just me, but the accents surrounding the Mustang’s new gaping maw, side windows and black, Torq Thrust-inspired wheels pairs well with the fantastic Dark Highland Green paint.
The Bullitt goes a bit stealthy by deleting the Mustang logo on the grille and all other badging. But those behind it are privy to its pedigree with a large Bullitt badging replacing the GT logo on the rear. The interior is far more liberal in letting the Bullitt’s occupants know, without a doubt, they are driving a Bullitt.
The special edition Mustang I drove came with $3,800 in options, which included the Bullitt Electronics Package and magnetic suspension, putting our tester at $50,390.
Fuel economy numbers…
If you have concerns about how many miles to the gallon you can get out of the Bullitt, you are missing the point of this car.
The point is this, it’s fast, it’s fun, it’s loud and it has the kind of cool factor that only Steve McQueen could match.
“Bullitt” is not a good movie, but the car chase scene is certainly iconic. The Mustang Bullitt pays homage to the icon, but unlike its film counterpart, it is superb and entertaining.