Driving at Mach 1

by Petrol Mum
Ford Mustang Mach 1 side view

Chuck Yeager’s historic flight in the Bell X-1, in which he became the first pilot to break the sound barrier – Mach 1, was the inspiration behind the upgraded Ford Mustang model that went on sale in North America in 1969. In 2021 the Mach 1 moniker was been reborn for a limited number of high-performance Mustangs, which are now available in Australia.

I recently sampled Mustang’s iconic Coyote 5.0-litre V8 that has been upgraded with a Shelby GT350 intake and is good for 345kW of power and 550Nm of torque delivered at 4,600 rpm. The enhanced breathing works alongside recalibrated engine management software and a combination of low-pressure port fuel injection and high-pressure direct fuel injection for a “reward-to-rev” character and 7,500 rpm red line. Peak power is delivered at 7,500 rpm and I can confirm that the Mach 1 loves to rev! A week of enthusiastic driving, as Sydney came out of its Covid lockdown, saw me use 13.7L/100km, with the official combined fuel consumption for the automatic Mach 1 being 12.4L/100km.

There are six Drive Modes to select from, Normal, Sport +, Race Track, Drag Strip, Snow/Wet and My Mode. My Mode can be quickly accessed via the Mustang button on the steering wheel and gives you the ability to adjust the steering, suspension and exhaust settings.

You can certainly announce your arrival in the Mach 1 well before you are seen thanks to the unique active exhaust tuning featuring 4.5-inch quad exhaust tips, perforated to enhance sound quality. Your exhaust mode can be set to Quiet, Normal, Sport or Race Track and your neighbours will appreciate that the Mach 1 does have a quiet start mode.

The Mach 1 is also the first production Mustang in Australia available with a high-performance TREMEC six-speed manual transmission, featuring rev-matching technology for seamless down-shifts and an upgraded oil-cooler system for high-demand performance driving. Customers can alternatively specify Ford’s 10-speed automatic transmission as a no cost option and this was the transmission fitted to the Mach 1 that I drove. It features an upgraded oil-cooler and recalibrated software for optimised performance in road and track driving conditions. I found that the gearbox was more sluggish in Sport+ mode compared to Normal mode and I was disappointed that the wheel mounted gear selectors were plastic and not metal or carbon fibre for a sportier look and feel.

Ford claims the Mach 1 is ready to track thanks to its bespoke steering, MagneRide suspension with stiffer sway bars and front springs, and a rear subframe using stiffer bushings and a Shelby GT500 rear toe-link combine for precise handling. Understandably the ride is firmer and bumpier in Sport mode, but in Normal mode it’s easy to live with for every day driving.

For added cooling there are two side heat exchangers (one each for engine and transmission) and a rear axle heat exchanger keep the Mach 1 running harder for longer. An underbody pan smooths and increases airflow under Mach 1, increasing downforce and brake cooling flow and this is a first for Mustang.

The exterior styling is also influenced by the original Mach 1 design with a classic hood stripe flanked by a pair of discreet vents. The dark-painted alloys are a modern take on the original’s Magnum 500 wheels and highlight the colour-coded Brembo brake calipers and these a wrapped in a set of Michelin Pilot Sport 4 S tyres. The front bumper features a deep 3D mesh, shark nose section, matte Mustang pony and tribute lamp elements to further link the Mach 1 back to its race-focused origins.

One of my favourite features on Mustangs is the 12” digital instrument cluster because there are so many options to choose from. You can select the cluster to change depending on the drive mode you are in or you can have it set to Normal, Sport or Race track. In addition to the elements displayed on the cluster you can also customise the colour using the My Colour feature and here there is almost an infinite selection of colour combinations. The other very cool thing is under the Track apps settings you can select which start option you want displayed on the cluster and these are Automatic, Race track countdown or my fav Drag Strip countdown.

My Mach 1 was fitted with the optional race-inspired Recaro sports seats and these hold you in nicely and smell American. Yes, I do think there is a difference compared to European leather. Both front seats have power adjustment for forward/back, front and rear cushion height and manual recline control with the driver getting additional 2-way lumbar support.

The Mach 1 has the same older style 8″ central touch screen found in the standard Mustang and this incorporates Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration. There is a storage ledge at the front of the centre console for your phone, but this is not very deep, and here there is one USB and one 12V outlet. There is an additional USB port and 12V under the arm rest with another smallish storage cubby.

Media sources include AM/FM, DAB, CD and Bluetooth played through the B&O PLAY 1,000W 12 Speaker Sound System with Amplifier and Subwoofer. Making calls and setting a destination on the sat nav can operated via voice control by pressing the button on the steering wheel with a masculine looking silhouette on it.

The rear seats in the Mustang are not suitable for adults due to the sloping roofline and fitting taller child seats in is also difficult using the two ISOFIX/rear tether child seat restraint points. My tween sized children can fit in the back with the driver’s seat in a normal position. However, they don’t like that there are no rear air vents and that their heads are sitting under the rear windscreen. Another issue is rear passengers can’t push the front seats forward themselves so in order to get out they need to reach forward and use the controls on the side of the front seat.

The Mustang has a large, but awkwardly shaped boot for lifting items in and out of. The boot lid has power assisted manual opening and can be opened from the button under the boot lid, on the key fob or in the cabin. To close the boot there is no grab point inside the boot lid so you need to pull down on the outside of the boot lid and over time this may cause scratches on the paintwork. There is a tyre repair kit located under the boot floor and the rear seats have a 50:50 split folding mechanism if extra space is required.

Eight airbags are fitted to the Mustang including driver and passenger front, side impact, side curtain and knee and the Mustang has a 3-star ANCAP (2017) safety rating with an Adult Occupant Protection score of 27.66 points out of 38 (72%) and a Child Occupant Protection score of 15.79 points out of 49 (32%).

Ford Mustang Mach 1 rear view camera

The Mustang has a Lane Departure Warning System with Lane Keep Assist, standard cruise control, a standard rear view camera with rear sensors only and autonomous emergency braking. ANCAP tests of the autonomous emergency braking system at highways speeds found this functionality performed well with collisions avoided or mitigated in almost every test speed and scenario. Overall, the ANCAP Safety Assist score for the Mustang is 61%.

All new Ford vehicles sold in Australia receive a 5 years/unlimited kilometre warranty. The service interval for the Mach 1 is 12 months or every 15,000km, whichever occurs first. Using Ford Australia’s website, I calculated that the first five standard services would cost $2,265 price and this excludes additional maintenance items that may be required. By servicing through the Ford dealer network, you also receive 12 months State Auto Club membership and Roadside Assistance.

Each Mustang Mach 1 is individually numbered with a distinctive plaque according to its chassis number and I had the pleasure of driving number MO688. Both the auto and manual Mach 1 start at $83,365 excluding dealer delivery and on-road costs, but the selling price is at the discretion of the Dealer. As tested with the Recaro Leather Sports Seats ($3,000) and Prestige Paint – Velocity Blue ($650) the Mach 1 I drove was $87,015 excluding dealer delivery and on-roads. Visit your preferred Ford dealer for more information about the availability of the Mach 1 Mustang.

The high revving naturally aspirated V8 engineOnly has a 3-star ANCAP rating
The distinctive stylingLimited room for rear seat passengers
The digital driver’s dashNeeds sportier wheel-mounted gear selectors

Photographs by Driven Women Magazine.

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