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2021 Ford Mustang Mach 1: 4 Things We Like (and 3 Not So Much)

ford-mustang-mach-1-2021-03-angle-dynamic-exterior-front-white 2021 Ford Mustang Mach 1 | Cars.com photo by Christian Lantry

It’s not a GT but not yet a Shelby GT500 either. The all-new Ford Mustang Mach 1 gets Goldilocks’d between the two for 2021 — replacing the Mustang GT350, which has been sent off to “live on a farm” where it will have “lots of space to run around” with other Mustang models you don’t see anymore. But does the Mach 1 make for a just-right replacement for the shelved Shelby and justify reviving the gone-since-2004 variant of Ford’s iconic pony car?

Related: 2021 Ford Mustang Mach 1 Review: Good — and Not Only Because It’s a Mach 1

Because of various trims, packages and configurations to be had with the Mach 1, the answer to that question is more complicated than it might seem. So be sure to check out Cars.com reviewer Joe Bruzek’s comprehensive critique via the related link above. But for a rapid-fire rundown of the things we lurve and the things on our nerves, keep reading.

Here are four things we like, and three we don’t, about the 2021 Ford Mustang Mach 1.

Things We Like

1. Sound Selection

ford-mustang-mach-1-2021-16-exterior-rear-white 2021 Ford Mustang Mach 1 | Cars.com photo by Christian Lantry

The Mach 1’s standard active exhaust system lets you choose your own audio-venture to impress your fellow racers or avoid disturbing your neighbors. Choose the loud-and-proud Track mode for hitting the speedway and the meek-and-mild Quiet Exhaust mode for cruisin’ the burbs.

2. Swift Shifts

The available 10-speed automatic transmission goes through the gears with the gusto of a bucking bronco blasting outta the gate — and this ain’t our first rodeo. Cars.com editors previously clocked 3.9-second 0-60 mph sprints and 11.9-second quarter-mile times while testing the Mustang GT equipped with the same gearbox.

3. Thirst Trap on Wheels

ford-mustang-mach-1-2021-01-dynamic-exterior-profile-white 2021 Ford Mustang Mach 1 | Cars.com photo by Christian Lantry

Like posting a provocative pic on the ’Gram, if you’re looking for attention from random strangers, driving around in a Mustang Mach 1 Premium trim with the Appearance Package upgrade is guaranteed to get all eyez on you like 2Pac circa ’96. Head-turning features include a Mach-1-specific grille, hood stripe and wheels. The optional Appearance Package adds stunning Fighter Jet Gray paint; a complementary orange color on the brake calipers, hood, side stripe and front seats; and optional magnetic gray, split-five-spoke wheels.

4. Handle With Flair

For the (relative) bargain price of $3,750, the Mach 1 Handling Package adds revised chassis tuning, wider wheels, track-ready Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires measuring 10.5 inches wide in the front and 11 inches out back, adjustable strut top mounts, plus a larger front splitter and rear spoiler that increase downforce 150% over the base GT. The Handling Package replaces the defunct Performance Pack Level 2, which, as Bruzek notes in his review, “approached Shelby GT350-levels of track-ability” in Cars.com testing.

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Things We Don’t

1. A Mock One?

ford-mustang-mach-1-2021-08-exterior-white 2021 Ford Mustang Mach 1 | Cars.com photo by Christian Lantry

The Mach 1 could easily be confused for a basic-B GT during everyday driving. In-betweener performance enhancements are all but imperceptible anywhere but on the track — so unless you’re a dedicated weekend warrior, you might wanna save a few G’s and just get a comparably equipped GT.

2. Automatic All Over the Place

The 10-speed automatic gearbox is great, but even track tuning can’t fine-tune shifting inconsistency that ranges from sloppy to severe without even changing the drive mode settings.

3. Dearth of Distinction

Gone are identity-establishing add-ons like a “Shaker” hood scoop to complement under-the-hood enhancements, in favor of a decal package, grille and wheel choice. Bruzek longs for meaningful differentiation for the Mach 1, throwing in performance and styling packages as standard, as well as the spectacular dual-clutch automatic transmission from the GT500.

“… And I think my dream Mach 1 would be an absolute beast — and a totally unique, naturally aspirated track car,” Bruzek writes in his review.

Cars.com’s Editorial department is your source for automotive news and reviews. In line with Cars.com’s long-standing ethics policy, editors and reviewers don’t accept gifts or free trips from automakers. The Editorial department is independent of Cars.com’s advertising, sales and sponsored content departments.

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