2021 Mustang Mach 1 | 10R80 | Road Test Review
The car I have been waiting to drive is finally here, sort of. Anyone who has been reading our reviews here on SVTP over the past year or so knows I’ve been chomping at the bit to get behind the wheel of a 2021 Mustang Mach 1. In my humble opinion, this car is about 200CCs away from greatness, but more on that in the future. Unfortunately, this particular Mach 1 is not the one I was hoping to review for you guys. This one is what I would consider old-guy, or drag racing, spec’d.
Our test car is equipped with the 10R80 10-Speed automatic, which is an absolute beast in a straight line. Though I would have preferred a manual for a couple of reasons. First, I unapologetically just like to row my own gears. Second, the Tremec TR-3160 transmission used in the Mach 1 (and previously the Shelby GT350) is part of what make’s that car special. It’s not currently available on any other Mustang model and is lightyears ahead of the GT’s MT-82 and basically every way. However, the 10R80 shifted decently and you’re guaranteed to have a proper gear ratio for whatever you’re doing.
Not a bad looking car, IMO.
Further, our Mach press car had the standard seats and standard suspension. The basic Mach 1 suspension package is good, but IMO if you’re buying a Mach you should option out the full performance pack Magna-Ride suspension system. With that package you’re going to be looking at about 95% the capability of a GT350, plus you get the awesome little front fender lip. The standard package is just a small step above a GT. I find the seats perfectly fine. They are comfortable and supportive, plus the A/C ventilation is greatly appreciated on a hot South Carolina summer day.
One of my favorite Coyote setups. It worked in the Bullitt and now it works in the Mach 1.
IMO, one of the best features Ford has added to Mustangs in the last few years is the active exhaust system. In the past, one of the first things I’d replace on any vehicle I’d buy was the exhaust. That’s not really the case anymore. Ford has dialed in the active exhaust on the Mach 1 to near perfection. It sounds aggressively awesome in track mode; and subtle but still muscular, in quiet mode. The active exhaust is not an inexpensive option, so if you’re going to rip it off and go aftermarket that money is better spent elsewhere. However, if you don’t feel the need install the latest V8 powered air raid sirens the factory active exhaust may just be the setup for you.
The factory exhaust on this car sounds great.
Out on the road, our Mach 1 tester is exactly what you’d expect from a premium Coyote equipped 2018+ Mustang. It is quick and comfortable. I’ve said it with the Bullitt Mustangs and it’s true with the Mach 1 as well, this version of the 5.0L Coyote V8 is my favorite right out of the box. The intake setup, borrowed from the GT350, and tune combine to make an engine that feels stronger everywhere throughout the curve than the standard GT mill. As with essentially every new Ford, the Mach could benefit greatly from a tune. The gains you could get from optimizing the shift strategy of the 10R80 alone are worth the price of admission.
The Mach 1 Appearance Package is a bit expensive, but the Orange Brembos included in it look great.
Styling wise, since this car isn’t a full performance pack build it doesn’t have the most aggressive look available on a Mach 1 Mustang (which is what I personally prefer). However, this car does have a lot of other great points going for it. The Fighter Jet Gray paint is incredibly subtle, but draws more attention than any factory coating I’ve ever experienced on an S550 Mustang. The best way to describe the look is shiny primer, but it just flat works. That’s especially true when you have the contrast of the Orange Brembo calipers spec’d on the $1,250 Mach 1 Appearance Package. The bright brakes pop against the subdued paint job. The orange theme is carried over in the exterior decals, and find their way inside to accent the black leather seats.
I prefer the optional Recaro seats, but the detailing on the standard seats match the car's theme very well.
It all adds up to a handsome package for someone who wants a car that stands out from the sea of S550 GTs you’re sure to see at any meet. If that’s what you’re looking for, a Mach 1 equipped like our test car is the ticket for you. And normies love this thing, as evidence by the reactions it received from my non-car-guy neighbors. However, if you crave something a bit closer to the edge we’ll have you covered in a future article. So be on the lookout for that. Until then, I still feel that a properly equipped Mach 1 is the Mustang to buy. After you see what we have brewing, I think you’ll agree too.
The 10R80 wouldn't be my transmission of choice for a Mach 1, but it does perform well.
Got coolers tucked all up in there.
The gray accents on the mirrors and spoiler look great.
The Mach 1 will take you to all kinds of interesting places.