Got grip? 2018 Ford Mustang GT Performance Pack Level 2 aims at Camaro 1LE

When Ford initially announced the specs behind the 2018 Mustang GT with the available Performance Package, the pony car looked like a real competitor to the Chevrolet Camaro SS. With 460 hp on tap and a 0-60-mph time of four seconds -- with the 10-speed automatic transmission -- the new Mustang GT and the Camaro SS can trade punches like two heavyweights. Now that Ford put the V8-powered Camaro on notice, the automaker is looking upstream, towards the Camaro SS 1LE.

Over the weekend, Ford held an small event at Wind Tunnel 8, which the automaker has used to test every single one of its vehicles since 2001, where it unveiled a new Performance Pack for the 2018 Mustang GT. Performance Pack Level 2, as Ford’s engineers call it, was created from the get-go to push the Mustang GT’s boundaries of grip.

The new Level 2 pack builds on the GT Performance Package, keeping the large Brembo six-piston brakes at the front, a Torsen rear differential with a 3.73 axle ratio, the larger radiator, special chassis and anti-lock brake tuning, a k-brace, and a silver-painted strut tower brace and adding more rubber, more aggressive aero and stiffer suspension components.

Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires are standard with the package and they measure in at a massive 305/30R-19s on all four corners. The 19-inch aluminum wheels at the front are half an inch smaller than the 19-by-11-inch units at the back, despite being wrapped in the same tire. The Michelins are roughly 1.5 inches wider than the Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tires on the regular GT Performance Package and drop the Mustang GT’s ride height by almost half an inch. They also help give the already muscular Mustang a more menacing look.

The MagneRide dampers, which are also standard, have a custom tune for the new pack, while the electric power-assisted steering system also has unique tuning. Underneath, the pack adds stiffer stabilizer bars -- the one in the back is 67 perfect stiffer, the front bar is 12 percent stiffer -- and it has stiffer springs in the front and back, as well, measuring in at 12 and 13 percent stiffer, respectively. Those figures are compared to the components found on the GT Performance Package.

The meatier tires, stiffer suspension components and MagneRide dampers are easy to miss, but the new aero components aren’t. The front end features a 3-inch splitter, which was created with the Mustang Boss 302 Laguna Seca in mind that adds roughly 24 pounds of downforce at 80 mph. To ensure that the vehicle is balanced, the team tacked a small, but purposeful rear spoiler onto the trunk that produces around 40 pounds of downforce at the same speed. 

The Performance Pack Level 2, according to Ford’s engineers, has helped make the latest Mustang GT the most neutral pony car from the current generation and one hell of a riot to drive. Performance wise, the new package has 40 percent more grip than the regular GT Performance Package and can pull 1.05 gs on a skidpad. That last figure is a large improvement over the regular pack’s 0.97 gs. Around Grattan Raceway, which is located in Belding, Michigan, Ford’s engineers claim the grippier pack is capable of slicing 3.5 seconds off of a Mustang with the GT Performance Pack’s time. Clearly, the team that worked after hours knew what it was doing.

The extra performance bits, especially the super-sticky Cup 2 tires, may make the Performance Pack Level 2 look like a must-have for any enthusiast looking to spend a large amount of time on a track. But Ford claims that the package isn’t for track days. That job is for the Shelby-branded Mustangs. And, at the other end of the spectrum, it’s a little too hardcore for daily use. Instead, the new package is aimed directly at enthusiasts who enjoy storming down, or up, a winding road. Coincidentally, the Performance Pack Level 2 fits snuggly in between a Mustang GT with the GT Performance Package and the Shelby GT350.

The package will be available on 2018 Mustang GTs and will cost $6,500. That makes it $2,505 more than the GT Performance Package, but a worthy upgrade, as the MagneRide system itself is an additional $1,695 on the cheaper performance pack. Interested? Yeah, we are too. Enthusiasts better act fast, as Ford plans to limit availability to just 1,500 Level 2 Packs per model year. That’s not a lot. And we expect the package to be popular, as it’s available as a stripper model with cloth seats -- don’t worry, the car can also be fitted with cloth or leather Recaros -- and only comes with a manual transmission.

By V. Joel Patel


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