The coffee maker in the Mustang Department’s breakroom has been working overtime in recent months, just like the engineers. They’ve been cooking up a special package for the 2018 Ford Mustang.
Dubbed Performance Package Level 2, it’s best to think of this as the car those who work on the Mustang picture when you ask them to describe their perfect pony car. It’s meant to bridge the gap between the basic Level 1 package and the outright track-focus of the GT350 and GT350R.
“This was more of our team’s dream Mustang GT, we didn’t have external benchmarks,” explained Carl Widmann, Mustang chief program engineer.
Extensive time in the wind tunnel with former NASA aerodynamics specialists brings a new, aggressive splitter. Starting with the coffee table of a splitter from the old, beloved Boss 302 Laguna Seca, the team developed a new one that will provide approximately 24 pounds of downforce at 80 mph, which should help keep the nose planted through higher speed corners. Likewise, a reworked spoiler will help balance the increase in front downforce, giving the package a total of roughly 60 pounds of downforce at 80 mph.
The best news to come out of the Level 2 package is the new rubber: 305-section-width Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires are at all four corners. Those are on 19x10.5 inch front wheels and 19x11 inch rear wheels, 1.5 inches wider than the wheels on Performance Pack Level 1. It's a serious upgrade. That's also a page out of Chevy's playbook for the Gen V Camaro Z/28, which used the same 305mm tire width all around.
The chassis was retuned to handle the extra grip from the noticeably wider tires. Everything is stiffer across the board, from stabilizer bars to springs. There wasn't a focus on weight reduction, and the brakes and engine are unchanged. That means there's still 460 horsepower and 420 lb.-ft. of torque.
All of these changes work together to produce impressive gains. The new tire package will place the Mustang’s 200-foot skid pad figure squarely above 1G, and despite the package not being track focused, the team did share some track figures with us. While testing the car at Grattan Raceway in Michigan, the Level 2 package shaved 3.5 seconds from the Lap time of the Level 1 package. Impressive considering there was no power increase.
MSRP for the package will be $6500, up $1500 from the Level 1 package, and includes everything that comes on Level 1. The take rate isn't expected to surpass Level 1, but the goal was never high volume sales. Instead, we have a Mustang GT for people who want more performance but aren't ready to step up to the insanity of the GT350. Deliveries will start in early 2018.