05-24-08: Now that the latest iteration of the Mustang Bullitt is on the ground at dealers, we took the opportunity to put some time in behind the wheel at Miller Motorsports Park in Tooele, UT to see just how good it is. We had seen the pictures and read the specs, but what do the chassis and suspension tweaks really feel like? How does the massaged 315 horsepower 4.6-liter V-8 engine sound? Is it a significant step up from the standard Mustang GT when thrown into a corner at 90mph?
The answer has been found and let me tell you that driven back-to-back with a Mustang GT on a road course, the Bullitt has a completely different personality. While many mistakenly assume the Bullitt just got a suspension kit and cold-air intake from the Ford Racing catalog, nothing could be further from the truth.
The time and proving that Ford engineers put in to modify the Mustang Bullitt's chassis and suspension to ensure the extra horsepower and torque from the 4.6-liter V-8 is put to good use is truly evident. The Bullitt has a lower, stiffer and better controlled chassis that allows faster cornering speeds and more predictability at the limit. The car feels a lot faster than just 15hp would give because it has a unique 3.73:1 gear ratio too.
The brakes have more aggressive front pads were developed specifically for Bullitt and improve fade resistance and pedal feel. While they did not feel significantly more powerful on the road course, they held their strength once they got hot. Adding to the grip we felt on the track are a set of upgraded P235/50ZR 18 BF Goodrich g-Force T/A KDWS tires.
Under the hood, the Bullitt features the first use of an open-element air filter in a factory-produced, fuel-injected Mustang. Inspired by Ford Racing, the intake is tucked neatly behind the driver side headlamp, mounted in an air box that was tooled up specifically for the Mustang. The hood liner was extensively modified to provide a full seal to the air box, ensuring that the engine is fed a steady diet of cooler air.
"Colder air reduces intake losses," said Randle. "The new cold-air intake has shown a reduction in rise over ambient temperature from 50 degrees down to 17 degrees Fahrenheit. That equates to more horsepower and more torque in all driving conditions."
Engine performance is further enhanced through the use of an innovative adaptive spark ignition system, new for the 2008 Mustang. The system can sense, within a few seconds, what type of fuel is being injected into the motor and adjusts the spark to provide maximum torque at any given speed - and as much as 10 pounds-feet more between 1,000 and 4,000 rpm.
"With all the improvements we've made to the engine and the taller 3.73-to-1 rear gear, the Bullitt will plant you firmly in the driver's seat when you stand on the throttle. We've seen zero to 60 times drop by up to three tenths of a second," said Randle. "There's also plenty of power on tap at any speed. The car definitely feels lighter on its feet, and it is." After driving the Bullitt and comparing with a standard GT, we tend to believe Randle’s claim.
One of the best part of the Bullitt’s driving experience of course is the sound. This thing will wake the neighbors and make them happy for the favor. The custom-designed exhaust system uses a new H-pipe specifically developed for Bullitt. All-new mufflers featuring larger 3.5-inch chrome tips (versus the 3-inch tips on the standard Mustang GT) are tuned to minimize backpressure, maximize horsepower and provide the Bullitt with its powerful exhaust note.
"We wanted to get the exhaust note as close to the original movie car as possible, so we based it on a digitally mastered DVD," said Randle. "We wanted something that would rumble your heart, literally buzz you - and the Bullitt team delivered."
The Mustang Bullitt uses the standard Mustang GT's front fascia. A new black-mesh grille is devoid of the standard chrome pony and is accented by a satin aluminum strip that represents the chrome grille surround on the 1968 car. The rear fascia also is shared with the standard Mustang GT and houses Bullitt's unique dual exhaust tips. Dark Argent Gray painted brake calipers closely match the wheel spokes, while staying true to the original.
The interior is pure Mustang Bullitt, understated and dressed in Charcoal Black leather and Satin metallic trim. The centerpiece of the interior is the hand-machined, aluminum swirl dash panel appliqué. The spun aluminum trim was easily my favorite part of the interior. While all the other goodies are nice, this is a really rich touch.
From a handling perspective the Bullitt is almost exactly in-between the Mustang GT and the Shelby GT Mustang. The suspension , power and sound play together in a way that is a significant step of from the Mustang GT. The ride is still refined and balanced for every day driving, not as stiff and sharp as the ride in the Shelby GT. Many were initially disappointed that the Bullitt was not more than it is. But after having spent some seat time with it I have come to appreciate the total package. It has all the cues and touches that make it worth of the Bullitt name.
The Bullitt package enhances the Mustang GT Premium package with the following:
3.73:1 Limited Slip Rear Axle
Ford Racing Power Pack (cold air induction system)
High Performance Calipation
Performance Friction Carbon Metallic® front pake pads
Ford Racing Strut Tower pace
Sport -tuned suspension (shocks/springs/stabilizer bar)
Modified "H" Pipe
Dark Grey pake Calipers
18-inch Euro-Flange Bullitt Wheels with Charcoal Satin Finish