There is much about the way the Mustang tackles a UK road that is beyond the scope of any mid-life modification or special-edition tuning job to change. This car is wider across the mirrors than a diesel-powered Vauxhall Insignia GSi and almost as heavy. In both respects, it is probably beyond the bounds of what many would be prepared to define as a sports car.
Even in Bullitt form, the Mustang feels big on many UK roads and quite ill-suited to some of them. The deftness and dexterity of handling that seems to come so easily for lighter, narrower, more natural automotive athletes are beyond it. Even so, the modifications affected on this car have had some very positive effects on the way it deals with what’s under its wheels. Moreover, there’s now even more to like about what the car does well than there was about the top-of-the-range ’Stang three years ago. And it’s not every mid-run, numbered special-edition sports car that you can say both about.
Firstly, there remains an entirely appropriate sense of suppleness to the way the Bullitt rides. While large and heavy, the Bullitt feels like a realist out on the road; not at war with itself in some mistaken bid to convince you that it can grip and handle like purer and more hardcore machines, but instead ready to conduct itself with vigour and a likeable, well-judged sense of measure.
Our test car’s adaptive dampers delivered a comfy motorway ride in their normal setting and much better close body control and vertical composure on A- and B-roads than we found in the regular Mustang V8 in 2016. Ford’s uprated spring and anti-roll bar rates seem not only to keep the Bullitt’s body more level during quicker on-road cornering but also to produce stronger and more robust lateral grip levels.
You’ll want to switch between the firmer-sprung and more pragmatic drive modes pretty often to get the best out of it as the roads you’re covering change, because the Mustang certainly doesn’t have that any-road, any-setting sweetness and imperturbable nature of, say, a 718 Cayman S. But that may also be why getting the best out of it is as absorbing as it is.
Get to the nub of the car’s limit handling potential, meanwhile, and you’ll find it’s at once more grippy, more composed, more benign and more flattering to drive than a regular Mustang GT. It also works its contact patches more effectively but also feels more progressive and controllable as grip levels ebb away.