2018 Mustang GT with Performance Pack Level 2 is not a Camaro 1LE competitor

Sorry, not a 1LE competitor. And Ford engineers admit that it is not a track car. It doesn’t have the brakes or the coolers that the GT350 has, which are absolutely necessary for experienced drivers on track. As a simple example, consider the GT350 in its first year, where owners who didn’t order the optional coolers found that their cars overheated on track and were essentially useless to them. The coolers were standard the next year (and on all the press cars, which we enjoyed testing and with no temperature issues at all), which solved the problem for the car but which left the first-year owners without it right out of luck… and a very expensive car which was useless on the track.

(Disclaimer: having tracked cars for 30 years we sometimes hear drivers who say “I never had a problem” – but those are drivers who are not driving their car to the maximum. The problem is also exacerbated in hot states in the south and southwest, but will be experienced by all drivers. How’d you like to take your brand new Mustang to Watkins Glen, only to have it shut down after a couple of laps?)

What then is the purpose of the 2018 Performance Pack Level 2? Perhaps for poseurs… 305s all around look neat. And maybe for autocrossers (although we believe the car might have an enlarged turning circle). We’re confused as to the purpose of this car since it goes halfway in the right direction with the Magneride suspension, aerodynamics, and excellent Michelin Sport Cup 2 tires (which would have a track life of a couple of events, before requiring replacement at $349.95 each @ Tire Rack), but then stops before the most important parts. What good is half baked?

We had this same conversation with a Ford engineer at a press event for the GT350 2 years ago… we suggested that something was needed halfway between the GT and the GT350, where there is an enormous price and capability gap. But we said that the big brakes all around and the coolers were a requirement… and explained why (having owned and tracked a dozen different Mustangs over the years), at which point we got a funny look from them and then silence. And we admit there is a quandary here… if you offered a Mustang GT with everything the GT350 has except it’s engine… how much point would there then be to a GT350? 526 HP versus 460 isn’t that much of a difference (although a GT350 with dual injection should be good for another 20 HP and even more torque… hmmm… maybe in 2019?).

We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again, the Camaro SS V-8 1LE is a superior track car to any Mustang GT. It not only has extra cooling for the engine over the stock car, it has coolers for the transmission and differential as well. And 6-piston Brembos up front, and 4-piston rear. By comparison, the Mustang GT with the existing Performance Package gets extra engine cooling but nothing for the transmission or differential, and the Level 2 doesn’t have it either. It does have 6-piston Brembo brakes up front (single piece iron rotor), but a lousy single sliding piston iron caliper in the back – the same setup that has held back the Mustang since it first got rear disk brakes (on the SVO) in 1984. Only the new GT350 gets proper rear brakes… where we see any number of Camaros on the street with 4-piston rear brakes.

Let’s look at the Camaro SS V-8 1LE package in more detail. It’s a terrific piece of work, and very very thoroughly engineered and tested. Based on the state-of-the-art “Alpha” platform (inherently superior to the Mustang’s platform), also used for the Cadillac ATS and CTS, with many parts shared with their V spec models (an advantage of platform sharing, a lesson Ford has yet to learn – although the Mustang shares the F-150’s 5 liter engine and likely the upcoming ~2021 hybrid 4-cylinder). Granted, it’s hard as heck to see out of the Camaro, abominable sightlines, and even tougher to see any other cars around around you. These are important attributes on track, and we’ve had students who have seriously struggled with that, even some beginners nearly crashing into other cars around them while at high speed. The “kid stuff” styling of the Camaro is it’s single worst point. Otherwise it’s extremely competent technically. And look at the 1LE features that the Mustang GT with Performance Pack Level 2 doesn’t have:

  • 2-peice rotors
  • Rear 4-piston brakes
  • Electronically controlled limited slip differential
  • Unique bushing rates
  • Transmission and differential coolers
  • Heads-up display
  • Performance data recorder and video recorder

On the Performance Data Recorder, we could write all day about the advantages of data analysis for both students and advanced track drivers, it’s just that important. Even advanced drivers can learn from data analysis, and in fact we’ve seen nearly all of them benefit from it. Anybody who turns it down is missing an important tool that would be worth several seconds per lap at least and on bigger tracks often a dozen. And of course Indy and F1 drivers use this type of tool religiously, every day, before, during, and after the events.

So, advantage Camaro 1LE. Disadvantages – all over to the place – to the half-baked Mustang GT with Performance Pack Level 2.

More information and images: see our Mustang Pinterest Board (225 Pins, including the full ste of images of the Performance Pack Level 2), our Mustang GT350 Board (34 Pins), and our Camaro Pinterest Board (312 Pins) – all part of our DrivingEnthusiast Pinterest Site (133 Boards, 19040 pins).

Ford Press Release and images follow:


Passionate Mustang Team Works After-Hours to Create New Performance Pack for Ultimate Road-Hugging Thrill Ride

  • New Mustang GT Performance Pack Level 2 raises Mustang GT’s game and bridges the gap between GT Performance Pack and GT350
  • Performance Pack Level 2 is accentuated by a lower, more aggressive stance, aerodynamically balanced high-performance front splitter and rear spoiler – all designed to add more downforce to attack curves for an exhilarating feel behind the wheel
  • Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires, retuned steering and MagneRide® suspension deliver ultra-responsive road-gripping capabilities in new manual transmission-equipped Mustang GT with Performance Pack Level 2

DEARBORN, Mich., Oct. 23, 2017 – Evenings in the garage. Weekends at the track. Gearheads everywhere can appreciate the extra time and effort the Mustang team took to quickly prototype and hone the Performance Pack Level 2 for the new 2018 Ford Mustang GT.

“A passion to create something special is what really drove this project,” said Tom Barnes, Mustang vehicle engineering manager. “And that really showed in the off-the-clock way we went about doing our work.”

Longtime tire and wheel engineer Chauncy Eggleston led development of unique 19-inch wheels that help provide notable steering and handling response improvements. Mustang veteran Jonathan Gesek, former aerodynamics specialist at NASA and now with Ford’s aerodynamics group, spearheaded development of a high-performance front splitter and rear spoiler. And Jamie Cullen, Ford supervisor for vehicle dynamics development, led road test efforts to ensure the car delivers ultra-responsive steering, braking and handling performance.

The result of their covert efforts is available to order now and will reach North American showrooms this spring when pony car enthusiasts can get the new 2018 Ford Mustang GT with Performance Pack Level 2, a collection of drive-enhancing components designed for – and by – people who love the thrill of taking the wheel of a true performance car.

“It will just beg you to go faster,” said Cullen. “The car has lightning-quick response and never gives up grip.”

Performance Pack Level 2 includes all of the features of Performance Pack Level 1 – unique chassis and antilock brake tuning, unique stability control and electric power-assisted steering, Brembo six-piston front brake calipers with larger rotors, a k-brace, larger radiator, silver-painted strut tower brace and a TORSEN® rear differential with 3.73 axle ratio.

It’s highlighted by a lower stance, a redesigned front splitter and rear spoiler, and 305/30/R19 Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires wrapped around split-fitment aluminum wheels – 19×10.5-inch front and 19×11-inch rear.

The tires, 1.5 inches wider than those found with Performance Pack Level 1, provide a firmer grip, and work with a retuned chassis to put the car more than a half-inch closer to the ground. The package is available exclusively with a manual transmission.

Custom tuned MagneRide® dampers and quicker steering calibration provide better response. Other improvements over Performance Pack Level 1 equipment include a 67 percent stiffer rear stabilizer bar, a 12 percent stiffer front stabilizer bar, 20 percent stiffer front springs and rear springs that are 13 percent stiffer, all of which contribute to a more stable ride around corners with less body roll.

Working a little moonlight magic

Critical to the success of the package is improved aerodynamics scores, which the team achieved by adding larger and lower front splitter and redesigned rear spoiler.

Gesek said the after-hours approach team members took to developing the Mustang GT Performance Pack Level 2 was so much fun because they set out to create their dream car.

“Our targets were aggressive,” he said, “and we nailed them.”

Using the splitter from the famed Mustang Boss 302 Laguna Seca as a benchmark, Mustang engineers attached the piece to the underside of the front to fan out as much as 3 inches around the corners of the Mustang GT. It creates about 24 pounds of downforce at 80 mph, helping give the car its exceptional grip. To balance the downforce, a subtle, redesigned rear spoiler stretches across the decklid.

To assist in the team’s innovative approach to creating the new Performance Pack, parts such as the rear spoiler were rapid-prototyped using a 3D printer. The process enabled faster turnaround times, complementing the trial-and-error nature of the project. 

The only visual cues on a car outfitted with the new Performance Pack Level 2 are black detailing on the splitter and spoiler, the tire spat on the back edge of the rear wheel wells and the 10-spoke Dark Tarnish wheels, which are exclusive. Customers who opt for Performance Pack Level 2 have a unique opportunity to select Recaro® seats in either leather or cloth to help stay firmly planted while cornering.