It seems some of the diehard gearheads at Ford just couldn’t leave well enough alone and decided to trim out the Mustang GT a little further. Ford pretty much states this right up front with the apologia: “Passionate Mustang Team Works After-Hours to Create New Performance Pack for Ultimate Road-Hugging Thrill Ride.” Which is a rather polite way of saying, “the kids were playing around in the garage again, but what they came up with is pretty good, so we decided to go with it.”
Or to be a little more definitive, say hello to the new Mustang GT Performance Pack Level 2, which slots between the GT Performance Pack and the full blown GT350.
How the Performance Pack Level 2 came to happen actually reads like a who’s who of Ford tech gurus, wrench turners, and grease monkeys. Tom Barnes, Mustang Vehicle Engineering Manager, signed off on the whole deal with a jaunty, “a passion to create something special is what really drove this project. And that really showed in the off-the-clock way we went about doing our work.”
The whole project was spearheaded by Tire and Wheel Engineer Chauncy Eggleston who led the development of the unique, 19-inch wheels that provide notable steering and handling improvements. Jonathan Gesek, another Mustang veteran and former aerodynamics specialist at NASA, lead the development of a high-performance front splitter and rear spoiler. Jamie Cullen, Ford Supervisor for Vehicle Dynamics Development, was in charge of road test efforts to tie the whole thing together.
The 2018 Ford Mustang GT Performance Pack Level 2 features a unique chassis, special antilock brake tuning, unique stability control, electric power-assisted steering, Brembo six-piston front brake calipers with larger rotors, a special k-brace, larger radiator, silver-painted strut tower brace, and a TORSEN rear differential with a 3.73 axle ratio. Other highlights include the lower stance, the redesigned front splitter and rear spoiler, and 305/30/R19 Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires, wrapped around split-fitment aluminum wheels – 19×10.5-inch front and 19×11-inch rear. Does split-fitment mean they are a two-piece thing? Dunno but that’s kind of a nice retro deal right there.
The new tires are one-and-a-half inches wider than the Level 1 skins and provide a firmer grip. And, since they’re bigger, that lead to the retuned chassis that put the car more than a half-inch closer to the pavement. The package is available exclusively with a manual transmission. Huzzah I say huzzah!
Ride & Handling
That new chassis also features custom tuned MagneRide dampers and a quicker steering calibration for better response. Other improvements include a 67 percent stiffer rear stabilizer bar, a 12 percent stiffer front stabilizer bar, 20 percent stiffer front springs, and rear springs that are 13 percent stiffer. Ford says this contributes to a more stable ride around corners with less body roll, to which I say “doi!” and I’ll also add that it will probably ride rougher and be more jarring. But I was always okay with that.
The aero upgrades all center around the larger and lower front splitter and redesigned rear spoiler. The splitter is a variation based on the splitter from the Mustang Boss 302 Laguna Seca. Mustang engineers attached the piece to the underside of the front that fans out as much as 3 inches around the corners of the Mustang GT. The bottom line is about 24 pounds of downforce at 80 mph. To balance that out, a subtle redesigned rear spoiler stretches across the decklid to hold the rear down. During the development phase, the aero team even went so far as to rapid-prototype various rear spoilers using a 3D printer for faster turnaround times.
The only way to tell you’re dealing with a new Performance Pack Level 2 Mustang is the black detailing on the splitter and spoiler, the tire spat on the back edge of the rear wheel wells, and the 10-spoke Dark Tarnish (sheesh!) wheels. An optional extra (well worth it, if you ask me) for gearheads who buy the Level 2 Pack are Recaro seats in either leather or cloth, so you don’t slop all over the place while cornering.
The New Mustang GT Performance Pack Level 2 will reach North American Ford showrooms this spring, so you might want to get in line now.
Tony Borroz has spent his entire life racing antique and sports cars. He means well, even if he has a bias toward lighter, agile cars rather than big engine muscle cars or family sedans.