Time to Level Up | Mean Green 2019 Mustang GT Performance Pack Level 2 Review
Have you ever had the feeling that a car company has been listening to your complaints, and finally builds a car to shut you up? Well that’s pretty much what just got dropped off on my doorstep. What we have here is a Need for Green 2019 Ford Mustang GT with a manual transmission, the Performance Pack Level 2 Suspension, Active Exhaust, Recaros, and not much else. No leather, no navigation, no 30 pounds of power seat motors, no bullshit, and no excuses. This car is what a Mustang is meant to be, simply and smile inducing.
The PPL2 cars have to have the best factory stance of any non-limited production Mustang out there.
If you guys caught my review of the 2019 Mustang Bullitt a few months ago, you probably remember how much I liked that car. It’s one of the first non-Ford Performance built S550 Mustangs that I’ve really liked. However, the Bullitt leaned a bit more towards ‘Show’ than it did ‘Go’. This PP2 GT is the opposite. It eschews the subtle styling and night-on-the-town class in favor of brashness and corner straightening performance. That’s right, subtlety is not its strong suit. You’ll get that as soon as you see it.
Need for Green is one of the more polarizing paint options on current Mustangs, but at least it should be easy to find your car in a crowded parking lot.
No matter how great the stance and sound of this car is, the first thing everyone is going to notice is the ever-so bold Need for Green paint. I’ll admit, at first I wasn’t crazy about it. My all time favorite shade on a Mustang is Electric Green found on the New Edge cars. However, the more time I spent with this 2019 the more I grew to like the color. In the end I’d have to say that it’s one of a handful of hues I’d struggle to select through if I were ordering a new Mustang now. It’s a color to describe, but the closest I can come is brighter version of John Deere Green. I suppose that’s fitting as this thing has the credentials to plow through the competition in the twisties.
We call this shot the "Camaro's Zoomed View". Seems appropriate.
The Performance Pack Level 2 suspension does not come cheap, but it does net you some legit componentry. First in my eyes has to be the wheel and tire package. Outside the carbon fiber models found on the top-of-the-line packaged 2020 GT500s, these are easily my favorite fitted to a modern Mustang. The ‘stainless’ painted wheels are so nice that I’ll be looking to fit them to any future project I may have that they’d mesh with. Those wheels come bolted to Ford’s electronically adjustable MagnaRide suspension, more thoughts on that later. As Harry Hogg wisely said, “tires win the race.” And the PPL2’s rubber happens to be a square setup of 305/30R19 Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2s all the way around.
In lower light situations the 'John Deere' tones really start to show in the paint. I think it looks great.
I know you guys are familiar with the phrase, ‘grip for days.’ Well this car has it in spades. It sets a new bar for grip that won’t quit for a non-specialty Mustang. Early on a few Ford insiders slipped us the word that the PPL2 cars could pull G’s that were knocking on the Shelby GT350Rs numbers (we’re talking about a difference in the hundredths here). After I week behind the wheel I can confirm that they weren’t kidding. While these tires may not be the best in the rain, borderline white knuckle may be a fair description, but when it’s dry they shine. The Cup 2s are the type of tire that an enthusiast should love. For what they sacrifice in tread life they over compensate for with the ability to hang in a curve far longer than most would be comfortable. No joke, I made a passenger car sick on an on-ramp with this car. I’d call that mission accomplished.
IMO, this is the best wheel and tire package ever fitted to a stock Mustang GT. Time to start shopping for some good take-offs.
However, all that road holding ability doesn’t mean diddly squat (channeling Ned Flanders there) if your backside isn’t firmly planted in the seat. I’ve had a love/hate relationship with S550 Recaros over the years. I found the leather examples in my 2015 EcoBoost Mustang to be too soft and a little too wide and slick. Contrast that with those found in the Shelby GT350 from Ford Performance which were some of the best seats I’ve experienced in any car. The cloth Recaros in this particular PPL2 car fall somewhere in the middle. They are far better than my old 15s, but not quite up to standard set by the 350. The cloth material is properly grippy, though the quality is a bit suspect. Still, they hold you in place properly. And thankfully they are still fully manual, which significantly saves weight when compared to their bougie fully electric brothers. Yes, I’ve railed on that many times now. We’re not breaking new ground there. IMO, Ford should really offer cloth Recaros (with a bit higher quality fabric) across the Mustang trim line; instead of mandating leather on the premium pack cars.
Cloth Recaros are a great option to pick up if you plan on doing any corner carving.
Being pinned back in your optional Recaro seats is nice, but there does occasionally come a time when you need some brakes that can nearly throw you out of them. Well this car can do it. The PPL2 cars come nicely equipped with a set of Chicago deep-dish pizza pan sized 15-inch rotors clamped by 6-piston Brembo calipers. They look great and they work. Yes, they are heavy; but all that iron can handle a lot of heat. Fade should not be significant issue binders unless being pushed in an extremely competitive manner on a track. These brakes are a win for this package. They get the thumbs up.
Ever wonder how Ford's active exhaust system works? This little butterfly valve controls the routing of the exhaust through the muffler, allowing you to dial in the level of V8 rumble you prefer.
As mentioned earlier, the list of options on this car is fairly short. Rounding out the lineup would be the Active Exhaust system that lets you choose your level tone you and your immediate neighbors hear. It’s a nice system, but whatever Ford did to that same system on the Bullitt is better. This is one of the few places where this little GT let me down a bit, the exhaust didn’t sound all that special. The Bullitt did. Speaking of Bullitt, I mentioned in the 2019 model review we did earlier this year that the sum of the engines upgrades made to that car is far greater than its components would lead you to believe. It’s almost unbelievable that the breathed-on Coyote in that special edition Mustang only made the power numbered ford advertised. That point is driven home even more after spending some time in a standard issue Mustang GT. Even though the difference is only 20HP (480HP / 420TQ for the Bullitt and 460HP / 420TQ for the GT) the Bullitt just feels so much stronger. If I owned this GT I would be looking very closely to replicate the engine package Ford put together for the Dark Highland Green McQueen Express.
If you look at the bottom of the strut you can see the wiring for the MagnaRide controls.
Speaking of modifying, if you’re like me; you may want the freedom to do a bit more end user modification. That’s the one issue I have with the PPL2 cars. As well as the MagnaRide suspension works, you’re sort-of locked into its factory settings. You're not going to easily be able to significantly modify the suspension. For most buyers that will be no issue, because the PPL2 MagnaRide suspension is great right out of the box. One final modification I'd like to make is installing the digital cluster from the Premium package cars. I really like the way that dash treatment dresses up the interior.
This sensor on the lower control arm feed suspension movement data back to the computer, which allows it to make adjustments to the MagnaRide dampeners.
So we come to the point of the story where I give you my opinion on whether this particular car deserves your attention and possibly your hard earned dollars. IMO, if you want a car that is 95% of a GT350 at a far more approachable price this is the car for you. It features exactly what you need to have a serious track day performer that can pull double duty as a comfortable daily driver. If you wanted to leave the majority of the materials contained in the PPL2 options list intact I’d say you should jump on this one. It is incredibly good. Just stop by your local Ford dealer and check one out, I think you'll be impressed too.