A couple of years ago, Ford NZ offered a limited run of RTR-spec Mustangs for local consumption. It proved a hit, so they are rocking it out again.
In the music world, they talk of the ‘difficult second album’ as a band struggles to follow up a successful debut with something new. But when it comes to marketing cars, things are much easier; you just roll out the same thing again. When we drove the Series 1 Mustang GT RTR Powered by Ford Performance, we hinted that there would be another run for those who missed out initially, and here it is.
As it proved to be a winning combination last time around, nothing much has changed for Series 2. It’s again a collab between drifting slash YouTube star Vaughn Gitten Jr’s RTR mob and Ford Performance. Most of the special bits amount to visual titivation, with the RTR-specific upper and lower grille featuring its signature LED lighting. There are a heap more spoilers, splitters, Gurney flaps and diffusers to give it a racer’s look, while the decals give it a go-faster appeal.
Some might find it disappointing that the powertrain remains stock standard. But then there’s nothing much wrong with the Mustang’s five point oh. And by not tinkering, it allows Ford to officially offer the package via its dealers without any warranty dramas. The rubber remains the same as the regular GT’s too, so no need to re-calibrate the stability control but the wheels are different this time around, with a set of RTR 19 x 9.5-inch Black Tech Mesh alloys in place.
As was the case last time, the main mechanical update concerns handling, this model utilising RTR Performance Suspension, with the front and rear dampers swapped out and lowered springs added along with the adjustable sway bars, and new rear toe links and knuckle bearings. Other changes include things like RTR floormats, Ford Performance sill plates, RTR badging and insignias everywhere, including the plaque on the dash, and RTR puddle lights.
The other change is the price, now $93,990, up from the $89,990 charged for the 2020 RTR Series 1. The standard GT costs $84,990, which in 2020 sold for $79,990. So the premium has actually reduced in this time period. And if you were to pick and choose all the bits from the RTR catalogue and add them to your existing Mustang, you’d be looking at something like $20k extra, so this is a good deal in the scheme of it all.
The new model also benefits from being based on the MY2022 Mustang with the latest tech updates, which include FordPassConnect, allowing owners to turn on, lock/unlock, and locate their car remotely using their phone.
This particular car is apparently the only example in this run to ship with a manual transmission. Of the 209 GT Fastbacks sold last year, just 16 were manuals. Total 2021 Mustang sales, if you’re interested, were 348, boosted by the deliveries of the Mach 1. Those are good numbers in the sportscar category, considering the model is now five years old.
We like both the auto and manual transmission in the Mustang. The ten-speed self shifter does a great job, and can be paddled along when the mood takes you, though a manual hooked to a big motor still has a primal appeal. That’s not to say it’s a mongrel of a box. It slots each gear slickly, the clutch light but with a decent bite and a hill holder and auto rev blipping add sophistication. The cogs are geared tall, but the torquey engine can pull them. That said, to really jet, a quick downshift is usually required to hook into the real meat of the torque curve, for the 556Nm peak is honed at 4600rpm. And it’s above 3500rpm that it delivers best. This V8 has a crisp response, and revs sweetly to 7000rpm, where the 339kW of power is maxed. The pipes play a grand tune too, the roar doing its bit to cancel out the tyre clamour on coarse chip seal.
And this level of muscle marries well with the handling upgrades for road use. The subtle changes hone the response to the steering inputs, the front turning on cue and holding your chosen course through the curves better. The lowered stance doesn’t render this hopeless on road either, for it is still compliant and composed over the majority of ugly surfaces. The rear end is faithful, grounding the grunt but rarely is it unruly. In short, it’s a rewarding drive.
The ride quality is okay at sedate speeds too, a little lumpy at times, but that’s to be expected. Some driveways will worry that big front splitter and you’ll feel the extension of the side sills as you exit the cabin; you often catch your leg on the plastic. And there are the usual Mustang-centric issues; the power figures quoted are on 98 octane (though it tolerates 95), it’s always thirsty (expect 13L/100km as a best case scenario, and 20L at its worst), the rear seats are fairly useless (best folded flat to increase boot space and let more exhaust noise into the cabin) and toggling between umpteen drive modes is a frustrating process.
Though the RTR Series 2 is again limited in numbers, they are still available to purchase through your local Ford dealer.
Will there be a Series 3? With a ‘new’ Mustang rumoured to drop late next year, probably not. But you can bet RTR will be on the case with a range of bits for the new model in double quick time.
|Ford Mustang GT
RTR Series 2
|5038cc, V8, DI
|6-speed manual, RWD