- True Mustang styling and the performance to match
- Competitively priced
- The V8 Mach 1 is part of a dying breed so will become a desirable model for collectors
- You can only toggle through the drive modes in one direction
- So few places where it can be driven to its true potential
- Poor safety score
Ford’s Mustang line-up comprises a 5.0-litre V8 GT model in fastback or convertible guise, along with the performance-led 5.0-litre V8 Mach 1 models which have the option of a six-speed manual gearbox or 10-speed automatic transmission.
The rear-wheel drive Mach 1 is very much a track-led makeover of the popular Mustang and it boasts performance capabilities to match the ultra-aggressive styling.
It’s loud, fast, packed with race technology and certainly not for the faint-hearted.
On The Road
We tested the Mustang Mach 1 with a 5.0-litre naturally-aspirated V8 petrol engine and matched to a six-speed manual gearbox. With 460PS of power on tap aided by 529Nm of torque, this firecracker of a performance car can sprint from 0-62mph in just 4.8 seconds and tops out at 166mph.
With a number of chassis tweaks and enhanced power from the engine, this is the fastest Mustang available in the UK and there are plenty of track-based features to explore along the way.
When unleashed on the twisting country lanes, the body control really impresses with sharp steering and plenty of driver feedback. Add the slightest pressure to the throttle and it’s like feeding time in the Serengeti – the volume goes through the roof and the car fires out the blocks.
It’s grippy through tight bends which fills you with confidence and overtaking is achieved in the blink of an eye. Don’t expect too many courtesies from other drivers as you will be viewed as ‘competition’ but that doesn’t really matter at all.
It eats up motorway miles for fun and is agile enough to drive through busier city centres where it turns heads as it passes. The all-round visibility is good enough for this type of car, but you are low to the ground so expect to get dazzled by bright headlights.
Although there are a number of track-focused features in the car such as a Launch Control system, we stayed on the Tarmac for our test drive and it didn’t disappoint one iota.
The Mustang Mach 1 is packed with special features to aid with thrill-seeking performance ability. There is the specially-calibrated engine with uprated cooling for improved track capability and it’s the first Mustang in Europe to feature the TREMEC six-speed manual transmission with rev-matching technology for seamless down-shifts.
A unique MagneRide suspension set-up enhances both road and track performance thanks to bespoke dampers and springs with the retuned electric power steering software delivering exceptional precision.
Wider wheels help with the traction when cornering and, although you will feel the full force of any unexpected potholes, the Mach 1 does a fairly good job of smoothing out the surfaces along the way.
There are drive modes that change the reactions of the car and these are called Normal, My Mode, Sport+, Race Track, Drag Strip and Snow/Wet. However, you can only toggle through these modes in one direction, so if you are in Sport+ and fancy calming things down and putting the car in Normal, you have to go through quite a process.
It is easy to switch the traction control on or off, and there are Comfort, Normal and Sport settings for the steering too.
Our car was riding on 19-inch wheels which were the perfect match.
If you want to go through life fairly unnoticed, then the Mustang Mach 1 is probably not the car for you. It’s loud, garish and has an aggressive look that demands attention wherever it passes. The chances are it will be heard long before it’s actually seen with an exhaust system that can be adjusted for varying noise levels. Loud is very loud indeed and Quiet is not that hushed at all!
Our test car featured optional Shadow Black paintwork that added an extra £600 to the cost, but it really looked the business. This two-door coupe with rear-wheel drive boasts beautiful streamlining, distinctive triple tail lamps, sweeping headlights and a sculpted bonnet.
The Mustang pony sits proudly on the grille and there are four chrome tipped exhaust pipes, 19-inch unique Mach 1 Magnetic Finish 5-spoke alloy wheels with Brembo brake calipers. Open the doors at night and the Mustang logo projects onto the ground and there is a Mach 1 specific bumper and stripes.
Moving inside, there are leather sports seats, a white cue ball-styled gear lever as seen in the Mustang Bullitt, ambient lighting, lots of aluminium trim accents, toggle switches, a neat digital dash display and infotainment screen.
The Mustang Mach 1 comes with unique interior and exterior badging, with Mach 1 logo and exclusive chassis number.
In The Car
Behind the Wheel
Despite sitting close to the ground, comfort levels within the Mach 1 are deceptively good with supportive sports seats and lumbar adjustment. There is power adjustment to the seats and steering wheel so finding the ideal driving position is made simple. The seats can be heated or ventilated while the steering wheel can be warmed too.
It’s a fairly minimalist interior with toggle switches to access features such as the drive modes and there is a clear 12-inch digital instrument cluster that changes its display information if you decide to switch through the drive modes.
On-board technology levels are good with Ford’s SYNC3 Navigation pack that includes a Bang & Olufsen premium sound system with 12 speakers, USB and Bluetooth connectivity, voice control and Ford Emergency Assistance.
Smartphones can be connected easily via Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and there is a rear view camera to assist when reversing, along with dual-zone climate control accessed via a separate panel.
A Ford Connect embedded modem can be used to transfer data to and from the car. This would be ideal if you wanted to keep records of track performances.
There is a fair amount of hard plastic surfaces which lowers the tone a little and the cabin also feels a little dated. But with the performance of the Mach 1, who cares?
Space & Practicality
The Mustang Mach 1 is a two-door coupe-styled car with two rear seats. However, these back seats slope quite dramatically and leg room is very limited even with the front seats pushed forward. They are ideal for throwing a coat or bag on though – just like most sports coupes to be fair.
The boot is quite deep and can swallow 408 litres of luggage – that’s fine for a couple of overnight cases. In addition, there is a lockable glovebox, a secret compartment that pushes out from the right side of the lower dashboard, quite wide door pockets, a deep central bin with USB port, seat back pockets and cup holders for anyone brave enough to attempt to drink a hot coffee whilst driving a Mach 1.
The Mustang line-up costs from £47,955 for the 5.0-litre V8 GT Fastback and rises to £58,955 for the Mustang Mach 1 with 10-speed automatic gearbox.
Our test car, the Mach 1 with manual transmission, cost £56,955 although the Shadow Black premium paintwork added an extra £600 to the final asking price. That was the only optional extra on the car which has everything you could possibly wish for included as standard.
When it comes to the running costs, the Mach 1 can deliver a combined 22.8mpg, but we were seeing mid to high teens on average. It has carbon emissions of 284g/km.
This CO2 figure would result in the most expensive first-year road tax bill of £2,245 dropping to the standard £155 fee after 12 months.
And insuring the car will not be cheap either as it sits in insurance group 44.
Quality & Reliability
When it comes to reliability and customer satisfaction, Ford often scores below mid-table with all manner of niggling little complaints. However, the Mustang Mach 1 is a Ford Performance model designed to be put through its paces both on and off the track.
With that in mind, special attention has been given to all the dynamic system set-ups to ensure a great driving experience is achieved on every outing in a safe, reliable environment.
The leather seat upholstery certainly looks and feels well-made and should survive the test of time, but some of the hard black plastic surfaces may prove prone to scratches.
For added peace of mind, the Mach 1 is supplied with Ford’s three-year, 60,000-mile warranty.
Safety & Security
Safety is an area that really lets down the Mustang. When Euro NCAP tested the car it was initially awarded just two out of five stars. Some additional safety kit was introduced in 2017 and the car was reassessed.
As a result the score was raised to three stars, but that still falls well short of competitor’s marks with a 72 per cent rating for adult occupant safety, 32 per cent for child occupants, 78 for pedestrians and 61 per cent for safety assist.
The Mach 1 gains a few extra safety features too so that needs to be taken into consideration. There is lane departure warning with lane keeping aid, adaptive cruise control, electronic stability control with three settings and a pre-collision assist system with pedestrian detection.
High performance brakes on the Mach 1 also ensure quicker and safer braking and there are anti-roll bars, plus eight airbags to help protect occupants in the event of a collision, along with tyre pressure monitoring and traction control.
With plans for a cleaner, greener motoring industry drawing ever closer, this could be the swansong for the naturally-aspirated V8 Mustang. But if it is, then it’s certainly going out with a bang.