Skip to main content

TESTED: 2021 Ford Mustang Mach 1

More than just a sticker pack

  • The 2021 Mustang Mach 1 is a Greatest Hits of the current-generation Mustang
  • The 480-horsepower V8 has some of the best-sounding horses around, and we even like the 10-speed automatic
  • The Mach 1 is one of the hardest-stopping cars we've ever tested and one of the best-handling too

The Ford Mustang Mach 1 doesn't surface very often (we last saw it in 2004), but when it does, it brings an attractive mix of features and performance. It's no secret that the current-generation Mustang is nearly at the end of its run, so what better way to send it off than with a combination of the best parts? The 2021 Mustang Mach 1 has engine modifications that we saw in the Bullitt, suspension bits from the GT350 and GT500, huge tires with tons of grip, and a unique exhaust system.

But all that doesn't mean much if it doesn't come together at the test track. So how did the latest Mustang Mach 1 perform when we tested it? Let's find out.

You're not gonna break the sound barrier, but it's fast

It's always safe to assume that a 480-horsepower Mustang is going to be fast. But when it's bolted up to Ford's 10-speed automatic, the new Mach 1 is eyebrow-raisingly fast. At our test track, the Mach 1 knocked off 60 mph in 4.1 seconds (3.8 seconds if you use 1 foot of rollout, which some other publications do) and pulverized the quarter-mile in 12.5 seconds at 113.1 mph. And with every shift happening at 7,500 rpm, it sounded absolutely glorious along the way. The unique exhaust tips of the Mach 1 produce a slightly higher-pitched note than the standard GT. Everyone in attendance made sure to stop and listen to every pass.

But with a Tremec six-speed manual as standard equipment (the same unit that was used in the GT350), why would we bother with the 10-speed automatic? Well, that's a tough call. The six-speed features trick rev-matching software and is one of the best manual gearboxes on sale today, but the 10-speed automatic is no slouch. Having tested plenty of six-speed Mustangs, we can say the 10-speed is undeniably quicker getting to 60, but it's also adept at aggressive track driving as well as just cruising around. Call it a win-win for everyone.

Stops with the best of them. Turns pretty good, too.

Let's get the tires out of the way first. When equipped with the handling package, the Mach 1 comes shod with Michelin Sport Cup 2s — the ultra high-performance tire these days — in 305-section front and 315 in the rear. That's a lot of rubber. But it still blew us away to see the Mach 1 stop from 60 in a scarcely believable 93.8 feet. That's one of the shortest distances we've ever measured and shorter than some of the best European exotica you care to name. It's not just the sticky tires that have us so impressed. The Mach 1's brakes feature unique ABS tuning and the pedal feels absolutely spot-on, with minimal travel and plenty of feel.

Those tires give it some otherworldly grip around the skidpad too. We clocked a 1.10 g average around our 30-meter skidpad and found the Mach 1's balance to be exceptional. We'd love more feel from the steering, especially just off of center, but the Mach 1 remains a very friendly beast, right up to and even beyond its considerable limits. Did Ford really build a user-friendly 480-hp Mustang? Yes, yes, it did.

Edmunds says

We'd understand if you felt a little jaded about the 2021 Ford Mustang Mach 1. It has all the hallmarks of a corporate cash grab — the vintage badge, a special sticker pack and the fact that the current generation is nearing the end of its run. But the Mach 1 is genuinely impressive. Motivation from the 5.0-liter V8 was never in doubt, but the combination of various Shelby suspension and aerodynamic bits as well as a superbly balanced chassis make this the Mustang to get for 2021.