Each week our team of experienced senior road testers pick out a new model from the world of innovative, premium and performance badges, and put it through its paces.
In 1968, a green Ford Mustang GT Fastback with Steve McQueen at the wheel leapfrogged and fishtailed its way across junctions and over the brows of hills through the streets of San Francisco. To celebrate 50 years since McQueen showed the world how to look cool behind the wheel, Ford launched the Bullitt edition of the Mustang fastback, the quintessential American muscle car.
If you don’t fancy the dark green paint and Bullitt badging, but still like the idea of a Mustang, you can choose from the current Mustang line-up (now right-hand-drive) which comprises Ford’s 2.3-litre Ecoboost engine and the 5.0-litre V8 GT version. The Bullitt is based on the latter, but its power is increased by 14 horses thanks to a freer breathing engine.
The Mustang GT badge at the rear is replaced by a Bullitt black circular design, while at the front there’s no Mustang, just a black grille between those mean headlamps. The dark “Highland green” exterior paint is offset by bright red callipers in the huge wheels.
Inside, the green theme continues with bright green mood lighting and matching digital graphics on the instruments. There’s also green stitching on the large Recaro seats, which fold forwards to give passengers access to the two rear seats.
The sweetest design nod to 1968 is the white cue-ball gearknob on the six-speed ‘box. There’s also a large Bullitt badge and silver panel on the passenger side of the dash, to enhance the retro feel.
Ford’s SYNC 3 infotainment system is intuitive, if a little old-fashioned in its graphics, and there’s Apple CarPlay on offer, as well as a rear-view camera. Ford’s Bang and Olufsen 1,000W premium audio system is well worth it.
This is an old-fashioned muscle car, so while the handling is not pin-sharp (although the Bullitt has uprated front springs and an upsized rear sway bar), it oozes character. The engine rumbles on start up, and the revs rise between downshifts with an audible burst of energy, making it sound as if you’ve got heel-and-toe-ing nailed. Above 4,000rpm this car puts you on the mean streets of downtown LA, even when you’re pootling around Woking, looking for a parking space in the rain.
With 453bhp and 529Nm (391lb ft) of torque, 0-62mph takes just 4.6 seconds. It didn’t really feel that quick to us, but it didn’t matter a jot: this car is all atmosphere, which leads us to…
If you’re the kinda guy or gal who loves sliders in a bar while watching the play-offs and listening to Johnny Cash, this is the car for you. The muscled haunches, the big wheels, the individual indicator arrows tracing across the boot, the deep, rumbling engine note… it all adds up to one hell of a coupé. We’ve been in few cars over the last 12 months that have turned so many heads, and it’s great that the car in question isn’t a sub three-second supercar, but one for proper gearheads.