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TEST DRIVE: Ford Mustang Mach 1

David Haueter samples the 470-horsepower V8-powered Ford Mustang Mach 1…

Photo: David Haueter

Ford has largely given up on cars in North America, as they focus their product efforts on SUV’s, crossovers, and trucks.

The one holdout is the Mustang, which is so deeply ingrained in Ford history over the last half-century that they couldn’t bring themselves to cancel it, even though they have the more politically correct Mustang Mach-E around.

Ford not only kept the Mustang around, but they offer it in several variations, including a few that still have a good old 5-liter normally aspirated V8 under the hood.

At the bottom of the rung in the Mustang hierarchy is the EcoBoost model, which is powered by a 2.3-liter turbocharged four-cylinder that makes a solid 310 hp, or you can get the EcoBoost with the high-performance package that ups power to 330 hp.

Move up the ladder from there and you’re into the V8 models, including the Mustang GT (450 hp), the Mach 1 (470 hp) and the Shelby GT500 (760 hp).

The EcoBoost and GT models are available in coupe or convertible form, but the Mach 1 and GT500 are available as coupes only. While it may be tempting to go right for the GT500, the Mach 1 may be the sweetest ride of the bunch.

Photo: David Haueter

The Mach 1, of course, gets its name from Mach 1 models of years past, with the first model appearing around the late 1960’s. Put simply, the Mach 1 signifies a model that’s a level above the standard Mustang models.

In the 2022 model lineup, it slots in between the GT and GT500 models and has some significant improvements over the GT.

The Mach 1 uses the rear subframe from the GT500, which is a more robust structure with stiffer bushings. It also has stiffer front and rear anti-roll bars, a Torsen limited slip differential and extra bracing, along with Brembo brakes.

Cooling is improved with a larger radiator, as well as a cooler for the diff. Ford’s MagneRide active dampers are also fitted as standard equipment. Under the hood is the 5-liter V8 that pumps out 470 hp and 410 lb.-ft. of torque, which is up from 450 hp in the GT model but has the same torque figures.

Horsepower has actually been decreased from 480 hp in the 2021 model, in order to meet stricter emissions regulations. The Mach 1 is available with either a 6-speed manual or 10-speed automatic transmission.

Photo: Ford

Our test car was the Mach 1 Premium, which adds heated and ventilated front seats in leather with memory settings, a heated steering wheel and aluminum pedals. If you want the ultimate performance version of the Mach 1, the optional Handling Package adds adjustable strut top mounts, increased aero with a Gurney flap and front splitter, larger and wider wheels and tires, and revised suspension tuning.

It also wears Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires (same as the GT500), instead of the Pilot Sport 4S tires on the standard Mach 1, which are still pretty good tires.

Even without the Handling Package and its aero bits, the Mach 1 looks fantastic in Fighter Jet Gray paint with the Mach 1 logos and trim.

All Mustang models are good-looking cars, but the Mach 1 is more of an eye-catcher than the standard GT, though it’s not as aggressive as the GT500. The Mach 1 drives like it looks. In short, it feels like a Mustang when you’re behind the wheel. You have the view over the long hood with the rumbling V8 under it, and the sounds and feel are uniquely Mustang.

Photo: David Haueter

This car is fast too, with 0-60 mph happening in the low four-second range, and the 10-speed automatic that was on my test car was smooth with quick shifts. There are also paddles on the steering wheel for manual shifting.

The ride is comfortable on the highway and the Mach 1 is more adept at handling back roads than you would first expect given its size and weight.

Ford has done a nice job with tuning the MagneRide suspension, and handling is predictable and balanced when you push it harder, though it’s not on the same level as a car like the BMW M4. The seats were also a bit on the soft side for performance driving.

With a starting price of under $60,000, the Mustang Mach 1 is a relative bargain compared to other cars with similar power and performance.

While the Mach 1 Premium with the automatic is fun to drive and may be easier to live with as a daily driver, going with the manual transmission and the Handling Package is the ticket if you want ultimate performance.

With the Handling Package and the manual, the price comes out at around $62,000.

Get one while you can if you want one, because with the direction things are going there may not be too many more years when Ford is offering this car with a V8.

Photo: David Haueter

David Haueter has been an automotive writer and photographer for the past 20 years. His writing and photos have been published in Roundel, Bimmer, Forza and Excellence and SportsCarInsider as well as other automotive and racing magazines.

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