2019 Ford Mustang Bullitt
Smile keeps coming
- 박재승 (email@example.com) --
- 12 Oct 2018
By James Park
Whenever Steve McQueen (1930~1980) is mentioned, the trio of Hollywood blockbusters he appeared in immediately projects onto this writer’s mind: The Magnificent Seven, The Great Escape and Papillon. These are three of the greatest films to grace the silver screen during the Sixties and Seventies.
On the other hand, McQueen’s 1968 crime-drama Bullitt fails to deserve any critical acclaim and is only remembered because of the standard-setting car-chase scene through the undulating streets of San Francisco. In fact, the real star of that movie is the dark green Ford Mustang fastback McQueen drove. (And the only people who still care are mostly middle-aged auto enthusiasts.)
Still, Ford, to commemorate the fifty-year anniversary of that iconic chase, as well as to pad its bottom line without too much effort, has given birth to another iteration of the steady-selling Mustang: The Bullitt.
All journalists, including we auto hacks, are cynical. We know Ford (any manufacturer for that matter) would use any and all sorts of excuses to foist this or that product.
And yet, the Bullitt gives off irresistible vibes.
Even as one understands it as another clever marketing ploy, one cannot help but check one’s financial wherewithal – not to mention the ability to convince one’s better half – to see if one can make the purchase. The car would be in production for only two years, so such process may need to be hurried.
Anyhow, just like the original car, the 2019 Bullitt comes in dark green. If you don’t care about authenticity, you can also order it black. The blacked out front grill is logo-less and the cue-ball shift-lever is another nostalgic touch.
Perhaps times have finally changed but many diehard baby-boom muscle car fans still only regard those with V8 under the hood as ‘real’ Mustangs.
For the latest Mustangs, differentiating the ‘real’ from ‘fake’ is fairly easy. On the 8-cylinder GT model, a big shiny ‘5.0’ is attached to either side of front fenders to denote the five-litre power plant. There’s also the prominent ‘GT’ insignia stuck to the space between tail-lights. Turbo-four and V6 (no longer available) Mustangs have logo-less fenders and the pictogram of horse instead of the GT logo.
This is why looking at the Bullitt may confuse some folks. It looks like a Mustang but there’s nothing really to denote how special it is. Yes, there is the Cross-hair logo with ‘BULLITT’ in the middle attached to the rear deck, but if you don’t know anything about the movie, you’d be hard-pressed to guess that this car sits atop the Mustang hierarchy. Aside from those with ‘Shelby’ in their names, this is the Mustang one should aim for.
Any confusion as to the identity of this car immediately evaporates as soon as you press the ignition button. McQueen, who knew a thing or two about fast machines, would’ve nodded his head with approval. The normal-breathing ‘Coyote’ V8 howls with throatier oratorio, thanks to the freer flowing intake manifold borrowed from the Shelby GT350. Compared to the regular GT, the Bullitt also gets bigger throttle body and an open-air air filter.
The resulting increase in ‘lung-capacity’ adds 20 more over the regular GT for the total of 480 ponies. The torque number stays the same at 420 lb-ft, though.
Those settling for the regular GT can choose between either a six-speed manualor a ten-speed automatic. The Bullitt driver better know how to row his/her own gears because the manual is the only transmission offered.
And what a smooth and slick operating ‘stick’ this is. The clutch is tad heavier than the Mazda MX-5 this writer drove the week before, but the short-throw lever is light and snicks precisely into gates. The transmission also has auto rev-matching feature that this writer found quite useful because, personally-speaking, the pedal placement is not conducive to easy heel-and-toeing.
The Bullitt has long legs. One can easily go up to highway speed in just second gear. The engine wants to be revved. Find a lonely stretch of tarmac and let it howl up to 7,500 rpm. It’ll clear your sinuses right away.
Now, the present generation Mustangs are all equipped with independent rear suspension, instead of the primeval solid axle. That means Mustangs drivers can now carry boat-loads more confidence through fast corners. The Mustangs are relatively heavy, but they are now much better handling cars.
The Bullitt can cycle through several drive modes including Rain/Snow, Normal, Sport Plus and Track. It even sports a Drag Race launch mode. With each mode, the car displays different gauge graphics, steering feel, suspension rigidity, fuel mapping and aural intensity.
Speaking of the engine sound, there’s something about a powerful V8 that soothes the soul and quickens the heartbeat at the same time. The car does offer silent mode, but would you want Luciano Pavarotti to whisper Nessun Dorma to you?
The Bullitt’s cabin is mostly standard Mustang fare. The latest Sync 3 infotainment system works well and all the controls are pretty intuitive and easy to use. Again, the cue-ball shifter is a nice touch that also differentiates the Bullitt from the lesser Mustangs.
All that goodness comes with penalty at the gas station. The Bullitt’s official fuel rating of 16.1 litres per 100 km in city and 9.9 litres on highway could dampen the spirits somewhat. Personally, for the week of fairly evenly balanced driving in city streets and highways, this writer saw average consumption of about 13.2 litres, which was less than expected.
The Bullitt also comes with steep price increase. The base model with four-cylinder turbo starts from $32,599, before taxes and mandatory fees. The GT model starts the count at $40,189.
In Canada, the Bullitt’s starting price of $57,525 includes the Bullitt Electronics Package that provides navigation, B&O audio, blind-side monitoring, cross-traffic alert and rear-view camera. The Magnetorheological dampers, which keep the suspension wonderfully rigid but never harsh, also come standard. The only option in this writer’s tester is the Recaro seats that pushed the car’s price up to $59,275.
Not an insignificant amount for sure, but when you consider the prices of similarly equipped European rivals, you’ll have another reason to smile as you accelerate down the road. (James Park is a member of the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada.)
2019 Ford Mustang Bullitt
As tested: $59,275
Engine: 5.o litre V8
Power: 480 hp/420 lb-ft
Transmission: 6 spd manual
Fuel: 16.1 litres per 100km (city), 9.9 litres (highway)
Best: V8 oratorio, easy-to-operate stick
Worst: bit pricey
Competition: Chevy Camaro SS, Dodge Challenger SRT
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