2021 Ford Mustang Mach 1 Premium Review
Speed hooked many of us on cars, that raw power to go faster than our brains can barely imagine, or cope with. It’s the reason for racing and racy cars, for high-horse engines, and it’s why NASCAR’s Darrell Waltrip says things like “Boogity, Boogity, Boogity.”
Ford’s Mustang Mach 1 Premium oozes speed, power, grunt and boogity all in a hot fastback design wrapped in a Jet Gray paint scheme with non-glare black hood and side stripes trimmed gloriously in orange.
There’s no way you see this car and don’t immediately think of speed.
Of course, that’s what Ford wants. It’s the reason Mustang is the only remaining car in its lineup. Speed sells, and even if we can’t hit its top speed of 168 mph on the highway, buyers want to know they could. Or they want you to know they might.
For my money the looks alone could persuade me to consider a Mustang, but shoehorn in a throbbing 5.0-liter V8 that sounds like it’s ready for Daytona and the Mach 1, which is available in limited quantities for 2021, is a no-brainer.
If you fancy yourself a star-spangled racer wannabe, one that wants to put American metal on the pole or put a whooping on other makes, the Mach 1is calling your name.
That V8 pumps out an impressive 480 horses, 20 more than an already muscle-bound Mustang GT and packs parts engineered by Shelby American for its GT350 and GT500 models. This racier Mach 1, a throwback name, takes the place of previous Bullitt and GT350 Mustangs and the GT with Ford’s Performance Pack 2.
At $52,915 it’s a relative bargain for a track-ready racer, and a darn sight easier on the wallet than a full-on serious racer like the GT500 that lists at $71,495. Mach 1 is about $10 grand less than the new Chevy Corvette too.
What do you get for your hard-earned cash?
Mach 1 uses the race-engineered GT350’s subframe for its suspension hookup, retunes the power steering for more precision, uses 6-piston Brembo (orange to match the racing stripe trim) brakes on 15-inch front rotors and 13-inch rear rotors, and has a toggle at the center stack’s base to engage, or switch off, traction control.
There are several steering and drive mode toggles too, including Sport+ and Track, and even a Drag Strip setting if you plan to blast off at your local drag strip. You can engage Line Lock there to spin and warm the tires before a race launch too.
Ford’s MagneRide adaptive suspension helps set the car up for normal city driving, which you’ll likely do mostly, or firm things up for the track. In any case, the Mustang handles quickly and precisely, and the 19-inch Michelin ZR Pilot Sport S tires give excellent grip in high-speed turns. It’s easy to set this before hitting an apex and then rocketing straight away with little or no tail wiggle in this rear-drive hot rod.
Amazing too, for a race-oriented model, the Mach 1 rides well on our crumbling southeastern Wisconsin roads. There’s some jiggle to be sure, but no rough or severe jolts. Not all racy coupes can make that claim, even some costing twice as much.
A six-speed TREMEC manual transmission is standard on Mach 1, which would make it more challenging to drive and add to the race car dynamics. But this one featured a slick-shifting 10-speed automatic ($1,595 extra) and the Shelby American folks assured us auto writers at a test session last year that today’s automatics are as quick, or quicker at shifting than anyone but a pro racer, and even better than some of those. With all the city driving most of us do, I’d opt for the automatic.
Cool too that the automatic reads your RPM and such to know exactly when to blip the throttle and downshift. Don’t tell your friends it’s an automatic and impress them with your innate racing ability as you brake hard for a turn, downshift, and accelerate away!
Just because performance is king here safety is not ignored. Ford’s Co-Pilot360 safety system is standard including all the usual electronic safety devices we’ve grown to expect. It includes forward collision warning with pedestrian detection, automatic emergency braking, blind-spot warning, rear cross-traffic warning, lane-departure warning, lane-keeping assist, automatic high-beams, and a 360-degree camera. While there is cruise control, it is not adaptive, so a bit of a disappointment.
This Premium model also comes with Sync3, Ford’s fine infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and an 8-inch touchscreen. The system works fine, but this screen looks a tad small compared to other current touchscreens. Many models now offer 10 to 12 inch screens. Also part of the Premium package is FordPass, an app that allows you to start, lock and locate your car via a smart phone.
Inside the test Mustang was mostly black, the dash and seats being that, but with gray stitching and seat backs feature an orange Mach 1 logo. Cool! Trim is mostly satin chrome, as are buttons and knobs, plus there’s a brushed smoke black insert on the dash. The manual tilt/telescope steering wheel is leather-wrapped.
Seats are Recaro race-oriented numbers that are very comfy and supportive with power controls, mostly. The seat back has a manual handle to adjust angle. Front seats are heated and cooled, three settings each and there are three driver’s seat memory buttons are on the door, all part of an option package.
Mach 1 includes a back seat, although that’s deleted from the GT500 to save weight. It’s small and cramped, but could hold a couple foldable friends for short distances.
Mustang’s instrument panel is wide and easy to see, plus changes appearance depending on what drive mode is selected. For instance, the Track mode puts a tachometer bar across the top to show revs. I liked the layout and everything is easy to see and use. Plus the $1,295 Elite package adds a fancy Bang & Olufsen stereo and enhanced security system.
Sadly there’s only a plug-in phone charger outlet, no wireless charging.
The test car added several other packages, including a voice-activated nav system for $595, snazzy painted aluminum wheels for $395 and then the Mach 1 Appearance package that includes those orange brake calipers, orange seat trim, the racy striping and the Jet Fighter gray paint scheme, for $1,000.
A $1,595 Deluxe group adds the driver’s seat memory, aluminum-clad pedals, leather console and premium trim plus the heated and cooled front seats.
All told the Mustang Mach 1 totaled $59,390, but there’s not much more you could, or would, want to add. For serious racers a $3,500 Handling group could make sense. It includes a tire upgrade, front splitter, performance rear spoiler with Gurney flap, fancier wheels, revised chassis tuning and adjustable strut top mounts.
As is, the exhaust tone, looks and performance of Mach 1 are exceptional, and all in a car weighing less than 3,850 pounds. Spend more if you like, but Mustang’s Mach 1 has all the boogity most of us can handle!
Overview: 2021 Ford Mustang Mach 1 Premium
Hits: Hot fastback looks, monster power, racy handling, decent ride, substantial safety equipment. Sport+ and Track modes, automatic downshifts, efficient 10-speed transmission, wonderful exhaust tone, comfy supportive sport Recaro seats, heated/cooled seats, easy toggles to adjust steering/drive modes and traction control. Wide instrument panel with various layouts and nice stereo.
Misses: No wireless charger, smallish screen and no adaptable cruise control.
Made In: Flat Rock, Mich.
Engine: 5.0-liter V8, 480 hp
Transmission: 6-speed TREMEC manual
Weight: 3,844 lbs.
Wheelbase: 107.1 in.
Length: 188.5 in.
Cargo: 13.5 cu.ft.
MPG: 14/22, 17.7 (tested)
Base Price: $52,915 (includes delivery)
Major Options: 10-speed automatic transmission, $1,595
19-inch magnetic-painted aluminum wheels, $395
Voice-activated touchscreen nav system, $595
Mach 1 Elite package (Bang & Olufsen premium stereo, enhanced security system), $1,295
Mach 1 Appearance package (Fighter Jet gray w/matte black strips w/orange trim, orange Brembo brake calipers, seat and interior orange trim), $1,000
Deluxe equipment group (driver’s seat memory, aluminum clad pedals, premium trim and accent group, leather console, heated/cooled front seats), $1,595
Test Vehicle: $59,390
Editor's Note: Mark Savage's auto review column, Savage On Wheels, looks at a new vehicle every week and tells consumers what’s good, what’s not so good, and how the vehicle fits into the marketplace.