San Francisco, CA. Life is full of wonderful pairings. Milk and cookies, Thelma and Louise, palm trees and weed, and San Francisco and the new 2019 Ford Mustang Bullitt. Just last week, I was revisiting a number of scenes from the 1968 blockbuster starring Steve McQueen as Lt. Frank Bullitt, in the new Mustang. I’d not enjoyed such a guilty pleasure since the I ravaged an entire box of Oreos and a litre of milk back when I was 15 years old.
If you were in the vicinity of Taylor and Filbert in the very first hours following the sun’s ascent into the Heavens on that Tuesday morning, you will have heard a half-dozen 2019 Mustang Bullitts ripping up and down roads in Russian Hills. The experience rendered my driving partner and I completely giddy. This Mustang and the area were almost too much to process, and yet so perfectly made for each other.
These few hours were almost magical. The car is, without a doubt, magical. This is not meant to say the new Bullitt is fluff. In fact, it’s quite the contrary. Like the past two generations of the Bullitt (2001 and 2008), the 2019 gets a modest power bump and a serious dose of attitude. With the help of an open air box, Shelby GT350 intake manifold, and larger 87-millimeter throttle body, the 5.0-litre V8’s output is rated at 480-horsepower at 7,000 rpm, up from 460. Torque remains unchanged at 420 lb.-ft., a fine amount if you ask me.
The only available transmission is a 6-speed manual mated to a TORSEN limited-slip differential, which is the way it needs to be. One-wheel burnouts belong in the past as demonstrated by McQueen’s dark Highland green 1968 390 V8 Ford Mustang GT Fastback with a 4-speed manual transmission. Unlike the ’68 however, double-clutching is not necessary, nor is heel and toe-ing. To my great chagrin, the 6-speed gearbox has a Rev Matching function that can be switched off and remained off the whole drive.
I’m tempted to complain that the 2019 Bullitt is too accessible, too easy to drive hard, very much unlike the car in the movie. The new Mustang is a modern car and sadly, fewer people than ever really know how to properly work a manual transmission.
Daily badass car
Having said that, this car is truly a daily driver. The MagneRide system with adaptive dampers, a standard feature in Canada, enables the heaviest of the fastbacks Mustangs to effortlessly cover ground in impressive comfort. At the opposite end of the drive spectrum, the dampers transmit the impression of alleviating the girth over the front wheels, giving the Bullitt unexpected agility and responsiveness. The masterful work of controlling weight transfers through the long series of switchbacks south of La Honda permitted gave me complete confidence in the front end’s ability to take the car exactly where I want it to go.
I preferred the dampers’ labour when set in Normal on these roads as they provided more wheel travel to help cope with the changing surfaces. Set in Sport, throttle is crisper but somehow needlessly so. Same goes for steering assistance. Somehow, this aggressive tuning is poorly matched to the Mustang’s demeanour. Thankfully, the active exhaust’s note can be adjusted independently, and should be the only element that must be set to Track at all times.
Stealthy yet so recognizable
Fifty years ago, the original Bullitt was devoid of all markings. Rumours has it that Ford wanted nothing to do with the movie so requested all badges be removed from the car. The other says that Hollywood wanted the car to have a stealthy appearance. Either way, save for the 2001 Mustang Bullitt, the ’68, ’08 and ’19 have no Blue Ovals, prancing ponies or even GT letters on it. Further to that, the new 2019 Bullitt sports no rear spoiler or any such adornment. In fact, the only indication that this is a Bullitt comes from the faux rear gas-cap with the word BULLITT inscribed on it, and that this is a seriously cool car.
The Dark Highland green paint scheme, Torque Thrust design black 19-inch wheels, wide blacked out front grille give the car unique and special visual appeal. I don’t see Mustang GTs anymore as they are so common. Even a GT350 might fly under my radar but I never miss a Bullitt regardless of the generation. The most recent 6th generation Mustang’s best angles must include its rump. In the case of the Bullitt, it’s good from all sides.
Mustang GT cabin
The new Bullitt’s cabin is all Mustang GT with a few extras. The most notable is the 12″ digital instrument cluster which delivers not only all the information but can be configured through drive modes. The steering wheel, with its oversized spokes, returns but with the word BULLITT inscribed in the center. Lastly, there are Recaro seats with green stitching available as an $1,800 option. They are a must. Get them. Don’t mess about.
Infotainment-wise, the 2019 Ford Mustang Bullitt’s got every conceivable feature including Ford’s SYNC 3 which is bar none the best Infotainment system currently available. Hell, it’ll even display Waze on the screen!
The new Mustang Bullitt is equal parts driving pleasure and being cool. It makes all the right noises and handles better than adequately thanks to the adaptive dampers. At $57,525, it’s also priced right for the taking. Ford says they will build one fewer car than the demand. This Mustang will age gracefully. Although it might not increase in value over time like the 2012-13 Boss 302, you’ll never regret your purchase.
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