It was a sad day for many Mustang fans when the Bullitt and Shelby GT350 ended production. However, in their place is a new Ford Mustang with a historic name: the 2021 Mach 1. But can this new model really pull double-duty like that? Based on what YouTube The Straight Pipes has to say, the answer seems to be, “yes.”
Think of the 2021 Ford Mustang Mach 1 as ‘Shelby GT350-lite’
For example, under the hood the 2021 Ford Mustang Mach 1 has the same version of the 5.0-liter V8 in the Bullitt, The Drive reports. That means the engine makes 480 hp and 420 lb-ft, 20 more hp than the standard Mustang GT has. And while a 10-speed automatic is available, the standard transmission is the six-speed manual from the GT350. The Mustang Mach 1 also has the same upgraded radiator and transmission and oil coolers as the GT350, and the GT500’s differential cooler, R&T and The Drive report. Plus, manual cars have automatic rev-matching.
Each 2021 Ford Mustang Mach 1 comes standard with the Performance Pack 1, Automobile reports. So, compared to the base Mustang GT, it has a limited-slip differential, stiffer front suspension, additional chassis bracing, and a larger rear sway bar. It also has retuned power steering, an upgraded brake booster, and an underbody pan designed for more downforce, Roadshow reports. Plus, optional Recaro sport seats.
Unfortunately, the Mach 1’s arrival killed the GT’s Performance Pack 2. However, the new model does have a concession prize: the Handling Package. This adds lighter-weight cast-aluminum wheels with Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires for lower unsprung weight and more grip. The package also adds an upgraded front splitter, adjustable upper strut mounts, and the GT500’s rear spoiler and subframe components, MotorTrend reports.
The 2021 Ford Mustang Mach 1 is a “Bullitt with butterfly wings,” Roadshow says
If you want to get the most fun out of the 2021 Ford Mustang Mach 1, the manual is the way to go, Motor1 reports. The automatic might lead to better lap times, but unless you’re shifting with the paddles, it often hunts for gears. Plus, the manual—which isn’t the same as the Mustang GT’s transmission—has a no-lift shift feature.
Compared to the GT350 and GT350R, the Mustang Mach 1 naturally isn’t quite as neutral or sharp, Car and Driver and Hagerty report. But then, it’s not necessarily meant to be. What it is, though, is “a powerful, sharp-handling middle ground” between the everyday GT and the supercar-like GT500, Autoblog reports. And in that middle ground, especially with the Handling Package equipped, the Mach 1 makes for a really fun car.
For example, the steering is quicker, more precise, and provides more feedback than the Mustang GT’s steering, Car and Driver reports. And while the Mach 1 understeers slightly going into a corner, it’s easy to rotate and neutral overall. But the magnetorheological dampers mean the Mach 1 doesn’t beat you up when you’re not on a racetrack. “It’s just right in every mode,” The Straight Pipes report.
Speaking of the track, the cooling upgrades and Handling Package make it a muscle car you can track without worrying about brake fade or overheating. “It just grips” going around corners, The Straight Pipes report. For the hosts, it’s more of a sports car instead of a straight-up muscle car.
Yes, you don’t have the noise from the Shelby GT350’s flat-plane V8. But as an overall package, the 2021 Ford Mustang Mach 1 is “quick, it’s reasonably comfortable, and it’s entertaining on track,” Motor1 reports. “It’s pretty much the perfect 5.0-liter Mustang,” The Straight Pipes report.
Is it worth the cost?
Not only does the 2021 Ford Mustang Mach 1 slot between the Bullitt and GT350 in terms of intent, but also pricing. Prices start at $52,720 before options or additional fees. And if you want the Handling Package, that’s $3500 on its own.
With it, the Mustang Mach 1 is just under $12,000 more expensive than the outgoing GT PP2, Car and Driver reports. But, while that’s not insignificant, the Mach 1’s cooling and drivetrain upgrades should address some of the issues the PP2 suffered, R&T reports. And compared to the Bullitt, it’s noticeably more track-focused.
That last part will likely be the deciding factor for many potential buyers. If you want a Mustang that can handle track days with aplomb but doesn’t cost as much as the Shelby models, the Mach 1 is a great deal. But if you’re just looking for a fun daily driver, it might be a bit overkill. That’s why Automobile recommends the cheaper Mustang GT PP1 for those kinds of shoppers.
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