2018 Ford Mustang GT PP2 Review - Packed With Performance, Too?

Chris Tonn
by Chris Tonn
Fast Facts

2018 Ford Mustang GT

5.0-liter V8, dual overhead cam (460 hp at 7,000 rpm, 420 lb-ft at 4,600 rpm)
Six-speed manual transmission, rear-wheel drive
15 city / 25 highway / 18 combined (EPA Rating, MPG)
18.7 (observed mileage, MPG)
Base Price: $35,995 (U.S.)
As Tested: $45,390 (U.S.)
Prices includes $900 destination charge.

I’m a very bad person. At least, I’m a bad neighbor. Shortly after we moved into this mature subdivision, I raised the ire of several mature neighbors by foolishly attempting to part out old cars in my garage — and occasionally my driveway, after the projects overflowed. Code enforcement was involved twice.

My car hobbies have evolved, and those neighbors have moved on in one way or another. But I’m still a child around fun cars.

I think the new, younger residents of the house next door have forgiven me for the 2018 Ford Mustang GT PP2 that graced my driveway for a week. I never switched the active exhaust to “Quiet” mode. Rather, I always switched to “Race” mode for a Parnelli Jones-inspired soundtrack with my morning coffee.

Let’s get this out of the way — the Performance Package Level Two, or PP2 for short, costs $6,500 on top of the standard Mustang GT. For roughly an additional 20 percent over the base MSRP, you get:

  • Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 305 mm wide tires front and rear
  • Special dark-finished ten-spoke 10.5 and 11 inch wide wheels, front and rear respectively
  • MagneRide magnetic damping – with “Track inspired calibration”
  • Brembo six-piston front brake calipers
  • Similarly “track-inspired” springs and swaybar
  • Larger radiator
  • A Torsen limited-slip differential
  • Unique front and rear spoilers

That’s a mighty pile of cash for, save the magic magnetic dampers, stuff that can easily be replicated via the vast Mustang aftermarket. That lovely performance exhaust that can change its tune, allowing you to schedule quiet start times? That’s not included, either — it’s another $895. Nothing is done to the engine . It’s still the 460 hp five point oh Coyote found in the standard Mustang GT.

The nearly-slick 305 mm Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires front and rear stick like pancake syrup on the underside of a filthy diner counter, but they tenaciously follow every little groove in the road. Plus, they absolutely do not like rain — we had a heavy downpour leading to standing water on the surface street, and I was sideways at 20 mph in fourth gear, trying valiantly to keep off the sidewalk.

My tester was also equipped with the 301A equipment group, adding Sync 3 and dual-zone climate control for $2,000.

So, what is the Ford Mustang GT Performance Pack Two?

[Get new and used Ford Mustang pricing here!]

I’m not really sure. It’s incredibly fun on the street in the dry — more on rain later — and it’s a surprisingly comfortable ride for commuting. The magnetic dampers do a great job of keeping the Mustang supple on crappy roads.

But it’s not as track-focused as you’d think, as there are no auxiliary coolers for the transmission or differential — two bits that are nearly mandatory to make a 3,700-pound car last more than a few laps around the track.

It’s a bit of a blank slate, then. It’s a nice bridge between the standard Mustang GT and the hyperactive GT350. The five-liter Coyote engine isn’t the fancy flat-plane Voodoo from the big-brother GT350, but it still spins nicely to 7,500 rpm, singing a song oddly reminiscent of a well-tuned classic pushrod Windsor. It’s more rowdy than a standard GT, with a more finely tuned suspension and aggro aero bits signalling that specialness.

Yeah, I love the look of this Mustang GT PP2. The dark wheels, front splitter, and little rear spoiler make an already nicely-styled car just a touch cooler. While plenty have derided the styling of the Mustang since the first S197 chassis hit all of the retro notes in 2005, I’m a fan. The old-school, long hood/fastback style evolved nicely. I like this 2018 model a bit more than the retouched 2019 Mustang Chad drove last month.

And the Lightning Blue Metallic is stunning. I really wanted to hire a professional shooter to do this paint justice, but on my budget you’ll have to live with my mediocre photography. Trust me, it’s a shade that perfectly highlights every contour on the shapely Mustang.

I was surprised at how easy the Mustang was to live with on a daily basis. The Recaro seats on this PP2 were, as one would expect, equally comfortable and supportive for brisk driving and commuting alike. What shocked me was how comfortable the kids were in the rear seats. For reference, I’m 6’4”, and my kids are 5’4” and 4’10”, and both could sit behind me without jamming their knees into the back of my seat. I don’t know that they’d be happy riding back there on a cross-country road trip (no cupholders in the rear!), but for a couple of hours, they’d be fine.

Visibility out of the Mustang is notably better than other performance coupes I’ve driven, with minimal blind spots in the rear three quarters. Audio quality was good through the Sync 3 touchscreen, though road noise from the big Michelins did require me to crank the volume knob.

Were I to buy a new Mustang GT, I’d probably forego the PP2 despite the killer looks. After all, I’m kinda cheap. I’d probably do the level one Performance Pack and save about $2,500 — and the narrower tires would make the car a bit more liveable in daily driving.

I would, however, buy the active exhaust. The programmable quiet mode would keep the neighbors from their pitchforks in the mornings, assuming I schedule it.

I might not.

[Images: © 2018 Chris Tonn/TTAC]

Chris Tonn
Chris Tonn

Some enthusiasts say they were born with gasoline in their veins. Chris Tonn, on the other hand, had rust flakes in his eyes nearly since birth. Living in salty Ohio and being hopelessly addicted to vintage British and Japanese steel will do that to you. His work has appeared in eBay Motors, Hagerty, The Truth About Cars, Reader's Digest, AutoGuide, Family Handyman, and Jalopnik. He is a member of the Midwest Automotive Media Association, and he's currently looking for the safety glasses he just set down somewhere.

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  • Noble713 Noble713 on Sep 25, 2018

    Gorgeous car. Love the body kit. I might be biased as this blue is almost the same color as what I put on my Supra. I'd love to own a piece of snarling American muscle here, in RHD....but these cars are just too big and heavy to be fun on narrow and twisty Japanese roads and parking conditions. A RHD Mustang 10% smaller and lighter but still with a V8, available outside the US for a decent price, would still be a nice toy to have. That or a RHD C7 Vette. My friend has an older (2008?) Mustang he's thinking of trading in for an S550 so I just sent him a link to this review so he can be all internally conflicted about what to do. ^_^

  • Dreadsword Dreadsword on Sep 25, 2018

    That side profile --- great that your kids fit in the back seat, but that looks like its achieved at the expense of a giant rear overhang. There's so much sheet metal in the rear quarter that the rear wheels look undersized. Note: This is comparatively minor aesthetic quibble on an otherwise great looking car.

  • ToolGuy Also on to-do list: Read the latest Steve S. fiction work on TTAC (May 20 Junkyard Find)
  • 1995 SC I'm likely in the minority, but I really liked the last Eldorado best. That and the STS.
  • Dartdude Typical Joe, bribing people for votes. He will do anything to re-elected, but as soon as he is he will go back on everything he says and does. America has never been this venerable as it is today. NO country respect Joe and what he says.
  • Theflyersfan Since I'm one of a couple of IT guys that supports the network, server administration, and all things computer related at a 24/7 logistics center (only closed on Christmas), I have to work some of the long weekend. But there's still time after we close early on Monday to fire up the grill and smoker, have a few friends over and scarf down some smoky rubbed ribs and burgers. Remember those soldiers who have died. I'm sure those in my generation had grandfathers who fought in WW2 and fathers who fought in Vietnam. I have my grandfather's dog tags and his enlistment card framed as a reminder of the sacrifices they made and to honor his memory.
  • FreedMike Doff of the cap to those who served.
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