As mountune’s Global Brand Manager tosses me the keys to the shiny new 2018 Mustang RTR Spec 2 parked out front, I can’t help but think today is going to be an alright-kind of day!
The Mustang has been with us in Britain for a few years now, and I’ve been lucky enough to get behind the wheel of a few. Recent models even gained a facelift with the MY18 updates, becoming even more powerful (now 444bhp in V8 guise), more imposing, and even better through the corners than the first version to land on UK shores.
But the car I’m driving today isn’t an ordinary Mustang; it’s been kitted out with the latest RTR Spec 2 upgrades that mountune offer.
What’s that all about then? Well, a (very) brief history lesson for those who may have missed it all; RTR (standing for Ready to Rock) is a vision from world-famous drift superstar – and huge Mustang fan! – Vaughn Gittin Jr. The RTR Team started offering clothes and merchandise, and then performance upgrades for the Mustang. This, naturally, leads to the complete RTR models available today.
The RTR Spec 1 kit includes those imposing cosmetic upgrades from the RTR catalogue, while the Spec 2 car adds a host of chassis upgrades to the mix too. Let’s start with the looks then. You’d never call a MY18 Mustang a dull-looking car, but the RTR models bring bucket-loads more road presence to the party. The trick when modifying a Mustang’s cosmetics is not to go full-bore with wildly wide arches and a massive Pikes Peak-spec rear wing. Instead, the name of the game is to work with what’ already there and subtly pick select styling cues to work with. Stuff like the ‘heat extractors’ in the bonnet (vents to you and I), for example, are much beefier than the originals yet don’t even look like an aftermarket add-on. That’s kind of the point; it’s all OEM-quality stuff that has been designed to look like a limited edition from the factory, and not something built by a bloke in his shed.
The RTR Spec 2 model comes with a full list of cosmetic upgrades, including; upper grille with lights, lower grille, brake cooling guides, bonnet heat extractors, side skirts, rear rockers, rear diffuser, rear spoiler lip, exterior graphics pack, and 20in Tech 7 lightweight alloy wheels. Most of these parts are available from mountune as individual upgrades, but some are unique to the RTR Spec 2 package, so for the full impact you really need to add the whole lot.
As I slide inside the cabin everything is as you’d expect, namely large, American, and comfy. The only cues from the inside are the RTR gearknob and the signed plaque by the main man himself. But when you fire up that thumping great V8, the axle-back exhaust as fitted to this particular car gives off a deep, soothing rumble that blips into a terrifying bark with a quick stab on the throttle. All is not as it seems, but to fully experience it I needed to head off into the countryside to find some tight and twisty B-roads.
A Mustang, on country lanes? I must be crazy, right? Aren’t Mustangs only good for straight lines a quarter-mile at a time? Not any more! While the old US-only models may have fallen over at the mere thought of a hairpin, the new UK version takes them in its stride – the RTR Spec 2 with its Tactical Performance adjustable dampers, sport springs, and adjustable front and rear anti-roll bars, however, makes mincemeat of them!
With these chassis upgrades in place, the big, heavy, and super-wide Mustang actually feels well-planted and really quote nimble – which, for a car this size is an amazing feat. Fair enough, on these roads it’s not quite in the same league as a M400 Mk3 Focus, but you’d expect the shorter, lighter, turbocharged, AWD RS to have the upper hand out here. But, you’d be surprised, the RTR Spec 2’s performance is closer than you might think.
The front end feels much tighter than the standard Mustang, especially on turn-in, and because of the reduced body roll offered by the sports springs, the front tyres just grip and the nose changes direction remarkably quickly. You might think this may upset the balance and make the rear end feel looser, but it all works together in harmony. I even felt brave enough to turn the traction control fully off and get the back-end squirming about on the exits of corners. Of course, with 444bhp on tap it’s easy to get the rear tyres breaking traction if you provoke it, but these country lanes aren’t as wide as a Mustang is long, meaning they really don’t offer a lot of margin for error!
I was amazed at how much fun this thing out on the country lanes. I mean, it’s still most comfortable on fast sweeping A-roads and relentlessly munching the miles on the motorway, but this little trip into the Essex countryside proved that if you wanted (and if there’s nothing coming the other way!) the Mustang RTR Spec 2 really can hold its own even on back lanes and B-roads you’d never realistically expect it to perform on. And if it’s this good out here, I’d really love the opportunity to put it through its paces on a race track, as I can only imagine it would be mega on track. I love it.
RTR Spec 2
RTR upper grille with lights; lower grille; brake cooling guides; bonnet heat extractors; side skirts; rear rockers; rear diffuser; rear spoiler lip; exterior graphics pack; 20in Tech 7 lightweight alloy wheels in Charcoal Grey; Michelin Pilot Sport tyres (255/35R20 front, 285/30R20 rear); RTR gearknob; Serialised build plaque signed by Vaughn Gittin Jr; Tactical Performance adjustable dampers; Tactical Performance sport springs; Tactical Performance adjustable front and rear anti-roll bars.
Full drive-in, drive-out conversion at mountune HQ – £10,000