Level 2 Option Sharpens 2018 Mustang Performance

If you want the ultimate performance version of the 2018 Mustang GT, you want to order yours spec’d with the Performance Pack Level 2 option, which is said to bridge the gap between the Mustang GT and the Shelby GT350.

When it’s time to clock out, good enough is just fine for most people. That’s not the case for the passionate engineers tasked with creating the 2018 Mustang. They were inspired to push the latest Mustang’s handling to the next level, so they gladly signed up for some after-hours homework — in the garage and at the racetrack — to create the Performance Pack Level 2 option.

A passion to create something special is what really drove this project. — Tom Barnes, Ford

“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.”

What’s more impressive is that the Mustang engineers weren’t assigned to create this package. Instead, they saw that the potential was there, created the upgrades in their off hours and presented it to management. Once the bosses saw the results, they couldn’t deny their efficacy.

The most obvious upgrade of the PPL2 package is the staggered set of 10-spoke Dark Tarnish-coated wheels fitted with Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires.

Performance Pack Level 2 Features

• Brembo six-piston front brake calipers

• Larger front brake rotors

• K-brace

• Larger radiator

• Silver-painted strut tower brace

• TORSEN rear differential

• 3.73 axle ratio

• Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires

• 10-spoked Dark Tarnish wheels, 19×10.5-inch front and 19×11-inch rear

• Stiffer springs

• Stiffer Sway bars

• Unique front Splitter

• Unique rear wing

Alongside Tom, Chauncy Eggleston created the package’s unique 19-inch wheels that said to improve the steering and handling response. Ford aerodynamicist, Jonathan Gesek, a former aerodynamics specialist at NASA, developed the front splitter and rear spoiler. And, Jamie Cullen, Ford vehicle dynamics development supervisor, proved out the responsiveness of the package’s braking, handling, and steering.

Those enhancements were built atop the upgrades already found in the Performance Pack Level 1 option, which includes six-piston Brembo front brakes, a K-brace, a larger radiator, a strut-tower brace and a Torsen differential fitted with 3.73 gears. The PPL1 also included special brake, chassis, steering, and stability control tuning.

The basis of this new package is aforementioned special 10-spoke wheel package wearing a sinister Dark Tarnish finish. These staggered hoops measure 19×10.5 inches in front and 19×11 inches in back, which allows fitting meaty 305/30-R19 Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 rear tires that are 1 ½ inches wider than the PPL1 rear rubber. This setup also drops the car another ½ inch closer to the pavement.

“Our targets were aggressive, and we nailed them. — Jonathan Gesek, Ford

To make use of the improved grip, those engineers dialed in a custom calibration for both the MagneRide dampers and the electronic power assist steering. They also beefed up the springs and sway bars. Compared with the PPL1 springs, the PPL2 coils are 20 percent stiffer up front and 13 percent stiffer in back. Likewise, the front sway bar is 12 percent stiffer and the rear sway bar is 67 percent stiffer.

Mustang engineers developed a unique PPL2 front splitter that provides improved downforce as well as a complementary rear wing. These pieces were developed using rapid prototypes to shorten the development time.

To take advantage of the improved hardware and tuning, the Mustang team believed the PPL2-optioned 2018 deserved a requisite level of supporting aerodynamics. Benchmarking from the likes of the vaunted Boss 302 Laguna Seca front splitter, engineers worked overtime using 3D printing technology to develop a front splitter and rear wing. The splitter reaches out as much as 3 inches around the front and underside of the fascia and provides as much as 24 pounds of downforce at 80 mph, while the rear wing helps balance that out.

PPL2 customers can only order a manual transmission, but they can chose between cloth or leather Recaro seats.

In the end, the Team Mustang engineers delivered the ultimate version of the 2018 Mustang thus far, which is what they had hoped for.

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

As we recently learned, the Performance Pack Level 2 will be available for order when Job 2 production begins in December, and it certainly sounds like it’s worth the wait.

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About the author

Steve Turner

Steve Turner brings decades of passion and knowledge in the world of Ford performance, having covered it for over 20 years. From the swan song of the Fox Mustang to the birth of the Coyote, Steve had a front-row seat.
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