A 2018 Ford Mustang GT does not compete with a Dodge Challenger Hellcat. However, it does present an question. The two vehicles are separated in cost by roughly $20,000, so how much performance do you really get for the extra money? We took the Mustang and our long-term Hellcat to Bandimere Speedway’s drag strip find out.
The Drag Race
We really wanted to see what kind of difference in performance there was between these two cars, despite the fact that they don’t exactly compete. The Hellcat, at a mile above sea level with its supercharged V8, managed a 12.6 second quarter-mile.
The Mustang, on the other hand, was a bit difficult to launch. The manual transmission has a ‘launch mode’ that will hold RPM at a specific number that you can choose. Then you dump the clutch and let Ford’s traction control, limited slip differential, and adaptive suspension do the rest. However, finding that correct RPM is difficult until you get some time with the car. If the RPMs are too low, you’ll bog down off the line. If the RPMs are too high, you will spin the rear wheels. Basically, you have to keep testing until you find the right balance for your tires and road surface. Our magic number, after a few runs, was 4,700 RPM. This eventually netted the naturally-aspirated Mustang a 1/4 mile time of 14.2 seconds. Not bad for a mile above sea-level.
So how much performance do you get for $20,000? In this drag race, it turns out you get about 1.5 seconds. But what else do you get with the 2018 Ford Mustang GT? It may look value-friendly against the Hellcat, but what is it like to live with?
Ford facelifted the sixth-generation of Mustang for 2018. While the chassis remains largely the same, the front end is different. In effect, the new one looks a little lower and a little wider, with some slightly different headlights.
Ours came with some 19-inch black-painted rims that are a part of the $3,995 GT Performance Package. On the styling front, you also get the rear decklid spoiler. Styling is always subjective, but drop us a comment and let us know what you think of the updated design.
The 2018 Ford Mustang GT is meant as a performance car, and it does perform. Under the hood is a 5.0-liter naturally aspirated V8 that makes 460 horsepower and 420 lb-ft of torque. That’s a 25 horsepower bump over the 2017 model. Power is sent to the rear wheels through a 6-speed manual transmission. 0-60, at sea level, comes up in about 4 seconds. Sure, it doesn’t have the 707 supercharged horsepower of the Hellcat, but the sticky tires do make the Mustang’s power more manageable day-to-day.
Again, as part of the GT Performance Package, this 2018 Ford Mustang GT comes with red-painted Brembo brake calipers in the front, a larger radiator, a stiffer rear sway bar, and a limited slip Torsen rear differential with a 3.73 axle ratio.
Our Mustang also came with the $895 optional adaptive exhaust. This exhaust may have been one of my favorite features. You can really let the V8 roar. In track mode, it gets unreasonably loud. However, there’s a quiet mode with a timer so you can avoid angering your neighbors.
Ride & Handling
Ford also fitted the $1,695 MagneRide adjustable magnetic suspension to this 2018 Ford Mustang GT. This is a really nice feature to have because it gives you options. Comfort mode is nice and smooth, great for highways and daily driving. The stiff modes are great for twisty roads and the race track. Overall the ride was very comfortable and just the right amount of sporty.
The last performance-oriented option here were the Recaro sport seats. This option costs $1,595. I am a big guy, but I am not alone in saying that these seats aren’t comfortable, particularly for large trips. They hold you in your place well enough, but the GT’s normal seats are more than adequate for daily use. These get very uncomfortable after about 20 minutes in the car, and I found them unnecessary.
Particularly with all the options, here’s where the 2018 Ford Mustang GT falls down. This Mustang came in at $53,160, including a $900 destination fee. That is just a couple thousand dollars short of a GT350. While it has just about every option under the sun, that price is nearly $20,000 away from where GT Fastback prices start.
I liked some of the options, but found many to be unnecessary. If you’re looking for the most bang for your buck, I’d recommend getting the base GT with the GT Performance package and the Adaptive Exhaust. You will pay just over $42,000 and end up with 98% of the performance and comfort. At that price, the Mustang is a great deal. But at $53,160? It’s a tough pill to swallow.