The Mustang Mach 1 deserves more respect. Offering more performance than the regular GT models — but less insanity than a Shelby — the Mach 1’s position in the center of the lineup puts the track-ready car in danger of being ignored and forgotten. On top of that, the iconic gas-powered Mustangs are losing relevance with Ford’s electric vehicle segment growing; in July 2022 the automaker reported selling 1,603 more electric Mach-Es, its electric Mustang crossover, than it did Mustang gas models.
Yet despite scaling the output of its electric vehicles, Ford hasn’t left enthusiasts in the dust since it launched the sixth-generation Mustang. Also known as the “S550” generation, Mustang models produced since 2015 have offered enough performance variants to keep fans happy. After the Shelby GT350 and Bullitt bowed out in 2020, the Mach 1 emerged to fill the gap for the 2021 model year. Now in its second year (after returning from a 17-year break since the special 2004 model), the 2022 Ford Mustang Mach 1 is a track-day worthy muscle car with daily driver credentials.
2022 Ford Mustang Mach 1: What We Love Most
Simply put, the Mach 1 has the best performance among non-Shelby 2022 Mustang models. In staying true to the original 1969 model’s spirit, the 2022 Mach 1 remains a performance-focused muscle car. It’s got a 5.0-liter V8 engine that pumps out 470 horsepower and 410 pound-feet of torque. With rear-wheel drive (still the most fun layout to drive) and Tremec’s six-speed manual transmission inherited from the GT350, the Mach 1 offers power while still being engaging to drive. In a drag race Edmunds staged pitting the American icon against the BMW M4 Competition, the Mach 1 managed to accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in a blistering 4.1 seconds — an impressive figure even if it fell short of the lighter sports car by 0.4 seconds.
HotCars’ Senior Writer Michael Van Runkle got a chance to drive the Mach 1 at Radford Racing School on Bob Bondurant’s purpose-built training track in Arizona. Despite the Mustang losing 10 horsepower for the 2022 model year, the Mach 1 impressed us largely thanks to the features inherited from the Shelby GT350 and GT500 models. And while we’re not the biggest fans of those round fog light holes on the grille, there’s enough exterior accents (including stripes) to make it feel like a true track car.
Why The Mach 1 Is 2022's Muscle Car To Beat
The Mach 1 faces stiff competition among 2022 muscle cars particularly from the likes of Chevrolet and Dodge. We like the Mach 1’s starting price tag of $57,665 compared to the 2022 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat’s (from $66,045) and 2022 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1’s (from $63,000). And while the ZL1 offers decent ride quality, the poor visibility limits its prospects as a daily driver.
It’s worth comparing the Mach 1 to the Mustangs it replaced. Although we experienced some understeer at Radford — a track we also got to drive the Dodge Challenger Hellcat SRT on — we suspect the Mach 1 is more capable of handling a broader range of driving conditions than its predecessor, the GT350. The greatest competition the Mach 1 has just may be the Mustang itself, with many torn between the GT Performance Package and the Mach 1. And while there’s no question the Mustang Shelby GT500 rules the nameplate as far as performance goes, the $80,815 price tag is a tough pill to swallow. For a less expensive price tag and daily driving appeal, the 2022 Mustang Mach 1 is arguably the best Mustang Ford sells today.
Worthy Mention: The Mach 1 Handling Package
For less-budget conscious buyers Ford offers the Mach 1 Handling Pack. The optional package (for an additional $3,500) comes with the adjustable strut top mount, the GT500’s rear spoiler, front aero splitter, revised chassis tuning, and more. The most striking addition has to be the 19-inch aluminum wheels sporting long-time Mustang rim designer Mark Kaski’s handiwork. It’s no wonder Ford dedicated an entire infographic to showcasing the “performance art” the Mach 1 flaunts.
Having test driven a Mach 1 equipped with the Track Handling Package, we found that selecting Track Mode helped the 3,900-lb Mach 1 feel lighter with shocks firming up the ride. Our time at Radford forced us to reflect on the Mach 1 being one of the last gas-powered Mustangs ever: while its performance pales in comparison to the electric 2023 Mach E crossover, it offers something the latter can’t: an emotional connection to driving.