Sharper More Planted Muscle car for track day enthusiasts

The original Mustang Mach 1 came out in 1969 as a performance package, with enhanced performance and suspension. That’s pretty much true of today’s version too, which you can identify from the more aggressive front lower end, the driving lamp housings in the grille and the bonnet stripe and highlighting around that and along the side profiles – sadly no shaker scoop – unlike the original.

The car uses the same 5.0-litre V8 Coyote engine as the regular mustang – if you can call it that, but gets 10 extra bhp for Europe – although that’s 20 extra in America. You get about 460bhp and 529Nm of torque, that’s good for 0-62mph acceleration of 4.8 seconds and a top speed of 166mph. CO2 Emissions are 284g/km. 

It’s a thirsty beast – with low fuel consumption quoted at 13.3mpg and combined average at 22.8 – though I did get a bit better than that and my experience with long-term Mustang GT Convertible suggests Ford are a little pessimistic with their figures – probably to manage expectations. 

You get a six-speed manual or 10-speed automatic and prices start from about £57,000 about 9000 more than the regular car. There’s a ton of standard spec and key features included though. Underneath the front and rear subframe are from the Shelby GT350 and the rear toe link and diffuser are from the GT500. It also gets the GT350’s lighter Tremec six-speed gearbox along with the intake manifold and engine oil cooler. 

I think it’s awesome. It has an evocative name and those still absolutely stunning looks, plus that magnificent motor in the front. The Mach 1 badges make it even more special, if not quite as stand-out as the original car. In terms of practicality, it maintains the space and comfort of the regular siblings, with the boot being surprisingly usable, especially if you drop the rear seats. It’s just about possible to carry passengers in the back, though it’s a little tight. 

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Up front all is familiar again to Mustang drivers, you get the delightful white cue-ball shifter as in the Bullitt edition and there’s a plaque on the dashboard to remind you this is Mach 1, as do the lit kick plates in the door sills. 

Does it drive any different? There’s a slight but not significant improvement in the performance, and you immediately notice, especially if you drive it around town over ruts and speedbumps, the more rigid and firmer ride. It’ll transmit every ripple to the cabin, and the body does reverb in indignation at the poor quality of our UK roads. It’s also prone to tramlining – that is it’ll follow the road ridges and lines, which means you need a tighter firmer grip on the wheel. 

The payoff however, is that if you find some smoother, fast-flowing roads with some challenging corners and satisfyingly long straights, this Mustang proves the more sublime and engaging offering from the stable of Stangs. 

It’s more screwed down onto the tarmac, the front turn-in is sharper more consistent, the steering is more accurate as a result and feels quicker, as does the shorter throw gearbox, which you can either choose to work hard with some satisfying automatic throttle blipping thanks to rev-matching on downshifts, or just leave it in third as the plentiful torque will handle most speeds and still give you a sufficient acceleration. 

Today’s Mustang Mach 1 then is the sportier, more hardcore driver’s version of the Stang. If you do intend to take your car to track days, or are blessed to live near some stunning and engaging roads, and you fancy a muscle car that very much silences the typical criticisms of American cars – indeed one that could probably give an BMW M4 sleepless nights – then immediately get this car. However if, like me, Mustang ownership is all about that engine, the noise, the lusty effortless performance, the easy cruising, the cool looks and comfort, while still being a decent handling machine, I’d stick with the regular car, like the long-termer Mustang convertible, or ideally the discontinued (but still available approved pre-owned Bullitt edition). 

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