New Ford Mustang Bullitt 2018

To understand the Ford Mustang Bullitt, you have to be familiar with the eponymous 1968 Steve McQueen action movie. The high-speed chase scene is legendary for its jumps on San Francisco’s hills – and to mark the film’s 50th anniversary, Ford is cashing in with a new special-edition Fastback.

Ford made Bullitt tribute models in 2001 and 2008, but neither was available in the UK. Typically, they are debadged and painted only in dark green or black, while also offering a slightly more powerful engine. Production is limited, but only by how many Ford can build and sell in a year.

The 2019 Mustang Bullitt uses the same 5.0-litre V8 engine as the Mustang GT, yet adds a tidy cold air intake system. The throttle body has been upgraded from 82mm to 87mm, and the intake manifold is borrowed from the not-for-UK GT 350. Those changes, plus some special engine programming, give the Bullitt an extra 14bhp over the standard GT. The 0-62mph time remains at 4.6 seconds, and top speed is still capped at 155mph.

The latest Bullitt also gets upgraded suspension, an active exhaust, sport driving modes and a Brembo brake kit.

On top of this, you can also spec Ford’s MagneRide active dampers, which ensure a smooth yet firm ride and decent grip. You can really feel the difference, especially on rough roads; we think it’s worth the extra £1,600.

All Brit-bound Bullitt models come with super-sporty Recaro seats that are top-stitched with green thread. But they feel hard, with minimal lumbar support. Smaller adults will love them, but those with a larger frame will find them quite uncomfortable. In contrast, the standard Mustang GT seats are much more supple, with power adjustment and more support. It’s a shame you can’t spec them as a no-cost option; don’t order a Bullitt without ensuring you can live with the compromised seats. There’s only space for children in the rear, too.

Every Bullitt comes with Ford’s SYNC3 infotainment system. The special-edition model features a sharp and configurable 12-inch driver information display, plus oil pressure and manifold vacuum gauges. Finally, there’s Bullitt branding on the steering wheel, and the gearlever mimics the original film car with a white ball. They’re nice touches, setting the Bullitt apart from its standard siblings.

On the road, the Mustang Bullitt shows the effort that has been put into the platform, as well as the special tuning for this model. Any powerful, rear-wheel-drive sports car can be a handful if it’s not managed properly, but on the whole, the Mustang is well behaved and fun to drive.

You can give the Bullitt a little throttle from a standstill and you won’t smoke the tyres, and power is well modulated. Punchy acceleration is always there if you ask for it, too. This Mustang won’t get out of hand under normal conditions, but all bets are off if you put it in Track mode and disable the electronic aids.

In corners, the Bullitt is surprisingly nimble and responsive. The MagneRide suspension helps the car manage transition forces well, meaning the Bullitt simply goes where you point it. The Brembo brakes can stand the Mustang on its nose at any speed, too.

Ford’s engineers were particularly proud of the car’s exhaust note, which does sound great. It burbles constantly and roars under hard acceleration – and there are a few crackles and pops as you lift off the throttle, too. The soundtrack is satisfying in short bursts, but may get tiresome on longer trips.

Ford’s engineering and marketing staff emphasised that the Bullitt Mustang isn’t meant to be a track car; a similarly-priced Porsche 718 Cayman is much better suited to circuit driving.

Prices for a basic Mustang GT start from £42,145, which gives you a few thousand pounds to spec it as you wish. If you choose the MagneRide dampers, the Bullitt costs £48,745 – so you have to want the special-edition features enough to pay the extra money.

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