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2018 Ford Mustang GT Performance Pack 2 track impressions review

A sports car masquerading as a muscle car

Mustang GT Performance Pack Level 2

Pontiac, Michigan — The world needs more sports cars.

While as an enthusiast, I feel the world needs more sports cars, the general buying public tends to disagree with me. They gravitate towards SUVs, crossovers, and pickup trucks. Companies that make proper sports cars are becoming fewer and farer between.

But the public still wants big V8 muscle cars. Yes, sales aren’t as strong as they used to be, but these two door, rear-wheel drive coupes still sell well enough, so manufacturers like Ford keep building them.

But Ford and Chevrolet especially have pulled off a neat trick. They’ve made their muscle cars into sports cars. The latest example of this is the Performance Pack 2 version of the Mustang GT.

Based on top of the 2018 Ford Mustang GT, the Performance Pack 2 (PP2) adds MagneRide magnetorheological ride control dampers tuned special for this setup, Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires, aggressive — and fully functional — aerodynamic tweaks, and exclusively the company’s 6-speed manual transmission.

The $6,500 upgrade is actually a bit of a bargain. When you add in the cost to get the Performance Pack 1 upgrades to the Mustang, plus the MagneRide magnetorheological ride control dampers — which aren’t included in PP1, you are basically getting the aero tweaks and Cup 2 tires for a lot less money.

Ford invited us to M1 Concourse in Pontiac, Michigan to spend a few laps in the PP2 Mustang. Following a bit of news about the 2019 Shelby GT350, I put on a helmet and HANS device and headed out.

Eight laps does not make a track day, but it is enough time to get some general impressions about the car. I must say those first impressions are strong. It might be my favorite Mustang. It feels like a sports car.

The shifter is easier to manipulate and the throws are reasonably short. While they aren’t as short as the S2000 I used to own, they’re much shorter than Mustangs of old and the shifting action is precise. With a light clutch it’s easy to drive this car.

Our cars were equipped with the active performance exhaust, which sounds epic with the Mustang’s 5.0L V8 making 460 horsepower. Yes, a Shelby GT350 with the Ford Performance Exhaust sounds better, but this is still both loud and gnarly.

Driving dynamics are quite neutral. At reasonable track speeds the car responds to your inputs as you’d expect, and the tires grip well meaning you can apply throttle earlier when coming out of a corner.

If you want to act like a hooligan, you can, but if you’re out there trying to keep things orderly and check off some quick laps, the PP2 Mustang is a capable companion.

What really impresses is how approachable the car is. While it’s a bit cliché to say a sports car is both approachable for the novice yet rewarding to the professional, it’s exactly the case with the PP2 Mustang GT.

There are some concerns as a daily driver — those tires won’t last long under daily street use — but you could use it daily without too many concerns. Just be careful that you don’t scrape the front lip and you’re all good.

It might not be as insane as the GT350 I drove last year for a week, but it’s a good balance of sensibility and insanity. It’s a balanced sports car that’s rewarding to drive, yet looks like a muscle car. I hope this trend continues.

The manufacturer provided access to the track, the car, and lunch for the purpose of this review. All of our opinions are our own. View our disclosure policy for more information.

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Written by Chad Kirchner

Chad Kirchner is the Editor-in-Chief of Future Motoring, along with the main host and producer of the Future Motoring podcast. In addition to his work here, he's a freelance automotive journalist for outlets around the world.

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