2019 Mustang Bullitt, Nostalgia with a kick

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The 2019 Mustang Bullitt rides on the nostalgic coattails of the Steve McQueen movie by the same name. The 1968 movie featured one of the most famous car chases in cinema history as McQueen drove a dark green Mustang Fastback through the streets of San Francisco chasing the bad guy in a black Dodge Charger Magnum 440. The Bullitt of today is a far cry from the one of film fame; it is a much better car.

The Bullitt is a better car in every way.

Naked front grille of the Bullitt

Just like in the movie, the 2019 Bullitt shuns badges

The new Mustang Bullitt is faster, safer and easier to drive than the iconic 60’s editions. Modern engine technology, greatly improved transmissions, four-wheel independent suspension and driver safety aids are key ingredients of the new Bullit. The only thing that isn’t better is the price. A 1968 Mustang GT Fastback retailed for under $3500. The Bullitt of today begins at over $46,000.

Our test car came with the 5-liter, overhead camshaft V8 making 480 horsepower and 420 pound-feet of torque compared to the 320 horses of the 390 cubic-inch ’68 model GT. While I don’t know the fuel economy rating of a ’68 GT because that wasn’t required back then, the modern-day Bullitt earns 15 city and 26 highway. Our week-long drive produced an average overall of 20 mpg. It does want 93 octane fuel, but that is a small price to pay for the performance you get in return.

The 2019 Bullitt comes equipped with a 6-speed manual transmission, outdoing Lt. Frank Bullitt’s dark green ‘Stang by 2 gears and includes rev matching for smoother downshifts. The short throw shifter makes gear changes fast and the well-planned ratios allow for even acceleration, holding a peak power band. The 3:71 ratio differential limits slip to the rear wheels, while linear clutch operation makes for smooth getaways.

Built for the driving experience

One of the many significant improvements made to the Mustang line up over the last few years is the independent rear suspension. Had McQueen driven the late model Mustang in his famous chase it would have been over sooner. With the optional Magna-Ride shocks the improvement in handling is startling when compared to past models, refining cornering to sport car levels. The high-performance Mustang can pull .97g on a skid pad.

The Bullitt comes with 255/40ZR on the front and 275/40ZR on the rear mounted to 19-inch wheels. The original GT of Bullitt fame sported 15-inch bias-ply rubber front and rear. The better ground contact coupled to the high-performance engine push the Bullitt to a 4.4 second 0-60 time and a 12.8 second quarter mile run. Ok, just so you know, the 68 GT turned a respectable 13.8 quarter mile. There are faster Mustangs available, but none with the Bullitt character.

Bullitt Sync # system and controls

Sync 3 with B&O sound system

The ’68 GT of movie fame had a primitive cabin when seen against today’s Bullitt. Where that car featured vinyl buckets and an AM radio, our test car came with power operated windows, leather heated seats, dual-zone climate control, and a 12 speaker B&O sound system in the Sync 3 stack. Also included with the Sync system were voice activated navigation, Sirius XM satellite radio and Ford Pass smartphone app.

Daily driver with weekend performance

Ride quality is very good, without the jarring you would expect from such a performance-oriented car. It is not a quiet cabin, but we didn’t expect it to be. The exhaust note is noticeable at almost all speeds and the rev-matching on downshifts produces a sexy throttle burble. The Active Valve Exhaust varies the free-flowing noise depending on the drive mode. If you want to hear the full-throated roar of the 5-liter Coyote V8 select Track Mode, however, even in normal drive mode the tailpipe is not silent.

Safety is a major factor in the 2019 Mustang lineup and the Bullitt enjoys many of the benefits of state-of-the-art air bag systems, passenger protection and SOS post-crash alert. Traction control, anti-lock braking and electronic stability control help keep the car on the road. One of the few optional driver’s aids available is blind spot monitors with cross traffic alert. Any car with the limited quarter panel visibility of a fastback can only benefit from this electronic exposure. While not safety related, the keyless entry and ignition are a boon to anyone who has ever searched pants or purse for that elusive key.

Bullitt is a driver’s car, wanting to be challenged

Projected Pony Puddle Light

Projected Pony Puddle Light

Driving the Mustang Bullitt is flat out fun. While there are more powerful cars on the market, and even higher output Mustangs, this car is an almost perfect blend of horses, suspension and amenities, making it a well-balanced daily driver. Gear shifting does not wear the driver out; the clutch is low effort and the cue ball topped shifter slides into gear. Moving with daily commuter traffic is easy with responsive steering that has no tendency to wander or overwork the operator. Braking is superb thanks to the Brembo brakes with six pistons up front and four on the rear. Bright red painted calipers accent the upgrade.

Find a twisty road and you can really begin to enjoy the qualities of the Bullitt. The four-wheel independent suspension controls body roll as the rear-wheel drive pushes you through fast corners. There is no plowing or oversteer on the tightest of turns. You can call on the responsive engine and standard gear box to power out of ninety-degree curves and launch into the straightaway firing up the joy of driving.

Even an average size driver will find it a bit difficult to get their legs in and out of the cabin. The car really needs an easy exit function that slides the seat back when you turn the car off. I found it necessary to power the seat all the way back to get out then reposition it on the next drive.

Highland Green is available!

2019 Mustang Bullitt

Shadow Black Mustang Bullitt

Our test car came in Shadow Black, with the ebony leather seating. Fortunately, it is available in the Highland Dark Green of movie lore. The only exterior badging on the car is a Bullitt logo trunk badge that looks like the older Mustang gas cap. All badging on the original movie cars was removed because one of the cars was a GT and the other not. Added to our test Bullitt were the Bullitt Electronics Package and the Magna-Ride suspension, both valuable additions. The final MSRP came in at $51,290.

Mustangs come in many flavors, from the base model powered by an EcoBoost 4-cylinder with 305 horsepower, to the new, Voodoo powered, Shelby GT500 with an astounding 760 horses. Pricing begins at just over 26 thousand for the fastback. No matter which Mustang you pick you will find a car that can entertain and transport way beyond the mundane family sedan,

We Reviewed the Mustang GT last year. Read about it here,

What would be the outcome of that same famous chase scene with today’s Mustang Bullitt up against the current Dodge Charger Hellcat? It would be interesting to see.

Learn more about the Mustang lineup at Ford’s website

Listen to the on air review by John and Jim