STEEDA BULLITT MUSTANG – 720BHP STEVE MCQUEEN EDITION

Sandicliffe Ford and Steeda join forces to create a modern interpretation of a fast Ford icon. The resulting 720bhp Steve McQueen Edition Bullitt Mustang is a true big gun.

Feature from Fast Ford. Words: Pro-Motiv. Photos: Chris Wallbank

A whopping $3.74 million was the price reached at auction for the original 1968 Ford Mustang GT driven by Steve McQueen in the film Bullitt. When the gavel came down, the Dark Highland Green coupé became the world’s most valuable Mustang.

The movie’s defining ten-minute chase sequence and the Mustang’s association with the original King of Cool immortalised the car in popular culture. And over the past 20 years, Ford has capitalised on this by releasing three Bullitt special-edition Mustangs (in 2001, 2008 and 2019), each with upgraded hardware and features inspired by the iconic original.

Steeda Bullitt Mustang

But while these specials definitely went above in terms of specification, they could never be described as going beyond in an effort to further McQueen’s legacy.

Let’s not forget that McQueen was a talented driver and motorsport fanatic, and personally oversaw the modifications applied to the Mustang for its starring role in the movie. So it is historically appropriate for any serious homage to Frank Bullitt’s daily driver to receive input from the McQueen family.

The Steeda Steve McQueen Edition Bullitt Mustang therefore represents the most serious, most badass, most authentically ‘above and beyond’ tribute to the 1968 original to ever hit the road. Enthusiasts will spot that it is a collaboration between the respected Mustang specialists at Steeda and the modern McQueen household: Steve’s professional racing-driver son Chad and his McQueen Racing team. Strictly limited to just 300 examples per year worldwide, this special edition is officially sanctioned and carries the Steve McQueen Edition trademark for ultimate aficionado points. What’s more, there are currently just two Steve McQueen Editions residing in the UK (a third arriving in 2022); three are situated in Czech Republic, one in Germany and one in France. That makes this example one of just eight across all of Europe.

The Nottingham-based Sandicliffe Ford dealership has become the first UK car dealer to recreate the new Steve McQueen Edition Bullitt Mustang – car number five in this year’s global allocation. Sales executive Aaron Borg, who has been managing this build project on behalf of an unnamed client, describes the car as boasting ‘stunning performance with perfectly understated styling’.

Steeda Bullitt Mustang

What makes it such an intoxicating experience? Drilling down into the specifications, each example is based on a standard 50th anniversary Ford Mustang Bullitt edition – itself an outstanding modern muscle car – but re-engineered in every major department to deliver supreme performance, increased exclusivity, and an appearance that is effortlessly cool yet undeniably menacing.

Those understated looks begin with the fitment of a new Steeda Q-Series front fascia. McQueen himself was keen to debadge and dechrome the grille of his 1968 Mustang, so the precedent is there to tweak the front-end – albeit this time with subtly accentuated angles for improved aerodynamics and a more aggressive chin spoiler, which comes out further and lower than the factory item.

Steeda Bullitt Mustang

When paired with Steeda’s MagneRide dual-rate competition springs, this baseline lowering hunkers the car down beautifully over one of the car’s key aesthetic cues – an outstanding modern interpretation of the classic American Racing Torq Thrust mag wheels. Gently staggered in width from front to rear, these 20in Steve McQueen Edition monsters dwarf the 15in originals but provide the larger footprint needed to keep the 720bhp-plus motor on the (relatively) straight and narrow.

Notable mentions in that regard should also go to the wealth of uprated chassis parts installed out of sight. The original independent rear suspension setup is secured and aligned with Steeda’s IRS support package, while Ford Performance ‘severe-duty’ halfshafts emerge from the differential to send rubber-vaporising torque to each wheel. Also improving rear-end feel are uprated and flex-proof vertical links, while Steeda anti-roll bars are installed across both axles and secured to the body with billet mounts to keep body roll to a minimum.

Steeda Bullitt Mustang

A bump-steer kit and camber plates correct steering feel and geometry that might have been adversely affected by the drop in ride height. Similarly, the inclusion of a Steeda Extreme G-Track brace connects the front subframe to the control arm mounts so the suspension geometry doesn’t change during sessions of high load, when upwards of 720 stampeding horses are released.

Those high loads come courtesy of a Whipple supercharger conversion, which nestles between each cylinder bank of the 5.0-litre Coyote V8, drawing in almost three litres of atmosphere with every rotation of its twin screws.

The reason for this mighty gulp of air is so that the system doesn’t have to work as hard to produce power and therefore doesn’t create as much heat either.

Nevertheless, beneath the supercharger mechanism lies an integrated air-to-water heat exchanger that uses liquid drawn from the intercooler to lower the temperature of the charged air before it enters the combustion chamber, minimising risk of premature ignition.

Similarly, the Whipple conversion comes with its own intake and fuel supply system, included among which is a unique 132mm throttle body. The elliptical design of this gateway can flow greater quantities of air than a circular design, yet by the same token requires careful ECU tuning.

Steeda Bullitt Mustang

This area has been well and truly nailed with the programming of an HP Tuners MPVI2 package, which grants the original ECU with more than enough talent and brainpower to manage the upgrade, optimise the ignition timing, and deliver superb – albeit scarily rapid – driveability without affecting the control module’s built-in failsafe functions. Having pioneered the highly capable MPVI2 package with Europe’s first Whipple supercharged Mustang, Sandicliffe commissioned Leeds-based tuner Motorsport and Performance to perform the vital calibration process.

Such is the intoxicating rush of this new-found power that you wouldn’t want to waste too much time changing gears. And while we couldn’t imagine McQueen putting his name to a Bullitt edition with an automatic transmission, the physical experience of cog-swapping has been tightened up with a short-throw shift kit and an uprated clutch spring and perch.

Steeda Bullitt Mustang

During his preparation for the role of San Francisco police lieutenant Frank Bullitt, McQueen viewed the Mustang as a character in its own right. The auction result, and the public awareness it promoted, once again proved that his decision was correct.

But while that particular 1968 Mustang GT will only ever be the preserve of one fortunate individual, the availability of the new, characterful Steeda Steve McQueen Edition Bullitt Mustang reassures the world that this icon is ready for a new starring role.

Tech Spec: Steeda Steve McQueen Edition Bullitt Mustang

Engine:

4951cc Coyote V8 with Steve McQueen Edition Stage 1 Whipple supercharger conversion, Steeda coolant expansion tank, HP Tuners MPVI2 ECU tuning with map by Motorsport and Performance

Transmission:

Getrag MT-82 six-speed manual gearbox, Ford Performance severe-duty halfshaft upgrade, Steeda Tri-Ax short-throw shifter, Steeda clutch spring assist and spring perch kit

Suspension:

Ford MagneRide dampers, Steeda MagneRide dual-rate competition lowering springs, Steeda anti-roll bars with press-fit solid billet ends, Steeda billet alloy anti-roll bar mounts, Steeda IRS package (subframe bushing support system, subframe alignment kit, subframe support brace), Steeda billet alloy vertical links, Steeda bump-steer kit, Steeda camber plates, performance wheel alignment, Steeda ultra-light jacking rails, Steeda Extreme G-Track brace

Brakes:

Front: 380mm ventilated discs with Brembo six-piston callipers; rear: 330mm ventilated discs with floating callipers; ABS, AdvanceTrac electronic stability control, electronic line-lock

Wheels & Tyres:

10×20in (front) and 11×20in (rear) Steve McQueen Edition alloy wheels with matching centre caps, 275/35×20 (front) and 305/35×20 (rear) Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tyres

Exterior:

Bullitt Edition Dark Highland Green paint, Steeda Q-Series front fascia, Steeda bonnet struts, Steve McQueen Edition engine compartment serial plates, boot emblem, Steve McQueen Edition special thank you package (letter of authenticity, engraved key fobs, signed and numbered Chad McQueen poster, signed and numbered archival pigment print by Camilo Pardo)

Interior:

Bullitt Edition Ebony leather Recaros with green stitching, Steve McQueen Edition illuminated door sill plates, Steve McQueen Edition dashboard serial plates

Contact:

www.steeda.co.uk
www.sandicliffe.co.uk/ford/steeda/mustang

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First drive review: 2022 Hyundai Elantra N excels in every environment for $32,925

Few places are more demanding on a sports car than Sonoma Raceway just north of San Francisco, with its blind crests, limited runoff, and bumpy braking zones. But that’s where Hyundai chose to give the automotive media our first extended crack at both the 2022 Elantra N. That shows a lot of confidence in the new Elantra N, which arrives with the Kona N to join the Veloster N in a growing performance lineup.

That relation to the Veloster N is a positive one. If you measure the performance capability of the Veloster N in smiles-per-dollar, there isn’t anything that can compete with the small Hyundai at the moment. The Elantra N takes many of the same mechanical parts, tosses in a new platform and some upgrades, and the resulting performance stew is very tasty indeed.

A throughline between all of Hyundai’s N cars (and even the Sonata N-Line could be thrown in that mix) is a big focus on fun. Their development process seems to be “that sounds fun, let’s go for it,” and the result is a playfulness that’s accompanied by serious performance. Albert Biermann, President of R&D for both Hyundai and Kia, admitted that “we spend more time on the N cars than anything else, not the Hyundais, Kia, or even Genesis.” It shows.

2022 Hyundai Elantra N

2022 Hyundai Elantra N

2022 Hyundai Elantra N

2022 Hyundai Elantra N

2022 Hyundai Elantra N

2022 Hyundai Elantra N

Grin and go

The Elantra N’s 2.0-liter turbo-4 sends its 276 hp and 289 lb-ft of torque to the front wheels through a choice of a 6-speed manual or 8-speed wet dual-clutch automatic transmission. Automatic models come with an “N grin shift” (NGS) button on the steering wheel that temporarily boosts the engine’s output to 286 hp and causes the transmission to shift at its quickest. This lasts for 20 seconds, after which the system needs 40 seconds of cooldown time before it can be used again.

The track at Sonoma puts a lot of stress on the powertrain. Two large hills after braking zones stall the car’s momentum, and if the powertrain isn’t up to snuff it can make climbing the hills arduous. The Elantra N doesn’t have gaudy horsepower numbers or an eye popping 0-60 mph time (5.0 seconds with the DCT), but ready torque from the turbo helped it charge up both hills with vigor. There’s a hint of turbo lag at lower rpm, but the transmission is very well sorted out and in its more aggressive settings will keep the engine churning in its power band (anything above 3,500 rpm). Crank it all the way up and it will hold gears all the way to redline, while also eliminating any awkward mid-corner shifts. The mapping was so good I only took control with paddles to see what they were like (great and very quick, in case you were wondering) because the DCT picked the right gear every time.

The 6-speed manual costs you time in the 0-60 mph run and on the track as well, but it’s a solid setup for manual fans. The throws felt a little long for track duty, but the gates were clearly defined and the clutch pedal very linear and consistent. Replacing the “NGS” button on the steering wheel in manual models is a “REV” button that turns rev-matching on and off. Leave it on for any kind of vigorous driving, and it works quite well. Drivers will be very happy with both transmissions; equipped with either unit, the Elantra N feels lithe and quick.

2022 Hyundai Elantra N

2022 Hyundai Elantra N

Corner savant

Underpinning the Elantra N is Hyundai’s latest K3 platform with an additional cross beam behind the rear seat for added body stiffness. It rides on an electronic controlled suspension, that doesn’t have adaptive dampers but three different damping force settings. On track and on the autocross, the most aggressive of these settings is the one to deploy. 

Despite being larger than the Veloster N with an extra 2.8 inches of wheelbase (107.1 inches)  and 16.2 inches of overall length (184.1 inches), the Elantra N is still very light. Curb weights are 3,186 lb with the manual and 3,296 lb with the DCT, which is only 80 lb more in the manual or 49 lb more with the manual than the Veloster N. 

The stiff, light structure helps make the Elantra N an exceptionally balanced car despite its  front-engine, front-wheel-drive layout. I detected a hint of body roll at the limits, but it felt controlled. Coming over the crests at Sonoma induced a touch of understeer as the car lightened and the suspension unloaded, but the Elantra N rebalanced itself  quickly and held course as I unwound the steering wheel. The electronic limited-slip differential shifts extra power to the outside wheel during cornering. This helps prevent both understeer and torque steer, and at the apex of a turn it feels like the nose of the car gets yanked down into the corner as you reapply the throttle. It also helps that a sticky set of Michelin Pro Pilot Sport 4S summer tires come standard. 

Steering feel is yet another highlight in the Elantra. Hyundai moved the steering motor  from up near the wheel to down on the steering rack itself, which provides quicker responses and more  feedback. The steering ratio has also been squeezed down from 12.9:1 to 12.2:1 in the Elantra, which cuts the turns from lock to lock from 2.5 to 2.2. There’s never a doubt as to what’s happening to the front wheels, which gives the driver more feel and control of the car. At its core, the Elantra N feels perfectly tuned to provide a good time.

2022 Hyundai Elantra N

2022 Hyundai Elantra N

What about off the track?

On the street, the Elantra N calms down enough to be driven daily. Choosing the softer suspension setting and keeping the powertrain in a Normal mode softens the car’s harder edges. The cabin is also well-equipped with matching 10.3-inch screens in the cluster and center console, sport bucket seats, aluminum pedals, wireless phone charger, and heated front seats. 

The 10.3-inch multimedia display is also home to the delightful N performance screens, which display important performance information in a clear and concise fashion. Hyundai also provides  a simple graphical menu to set up the two custom drive modes, that lets drivers choose from a trio of modes for the engine, steering, suspension, transmission, stability control, and exhaust sound (the e-LSD only has two settings). Those custom modes can be activated by the large blue “N” buttons on the steering wheel. 

When it’s not on the track, the Elantra N’s styling seems ostentatious. All of the angles don’t do the nose any favors, though the spoiler does help to make the back look more cohesive. But if I’m being honest, the thing drives so damn well that it could look like a PT Cruiser on the outside and I’d still love it. 

2022 Hyundai Elantra N and Kona N

2022 Hyundai Elantra N and Kona N

The final piece

The fun all comes at bargain prices. It starts at $32,925 with the manual transmission and $34,425 with the dual-clutch automatic, both including a $1,025 destination charge. That makes it very competitive with cars like the Subaru WRX, Volkswagen GTI, and Honda Civic Type R. But the Elantra N is so good that it should aim higher. I had more fun behind the wheel of the Elantra N than pretty much anything else I’ve driven all year. The only compact car that really came close (and wasn’t an AMG or an M car) was the 2022 BMW M240i—but that car cost $56,000 and had no backseat. 

Everything about the 2022 Elantra N works in harmony to make it a wonderful performance car. For an affordable, rocking good time, Hyundai’s N division currently stands alone. 

Hyundai paid for travel, lodging, and track time for Motor Authority to bring you this firsthand report.

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VAUXHALL CORSA VXR TUNING GUIDE

The Vauxhall Corsa VXR was the marque’s first attempt at a turbocharged Corsa, and with cool styling, hip-hugging Recaro seats, an affordable price tag and that punchy 192bhp engine, it’s a real riot straight out of the box, but it’s even better when tuned…

Guide from Fast Car.

Vauxhall’s hot VXR brand has produced some stonkingly fast motors over the years, with the Astra, Vectra and Insignia all properly rapid machines, even if the handling wasn’t always as sparkling. But with the Corsa VXR, Vauxhall was much more on the money, with the hot hatch being conceived from the get go as the top of the range Corsa, rather than a boggo shopper-spec car with some tuning goodies thrown at it. The new 1.6-litre turbocharged engine made 192bhp and, like all forced induction engines, responds well to a lick of the tuning stick. The looks and handling were pretty much nailed from the factory too, although there’s little that can’t be improved with some choice aftermarket upgrades, it just depends on whether you want to take it down the show or go route, as this is one little hatch that can carry off either with ease. Here’s a few options that we reckon would turn the Vauxhall Corsa VXR into a proper show stopper!

Tarox ‘Sport Compact’ Big Brake Kit

The VXR’s beefy turbo motor puts out a torrent of torque making it one of the most rapid hatches of its time, but that potent performance can put extra pressure on the braking system and anyone looking to up the power even further should look at some upgrades. On models without the upgraded Brembo setup, we’d recommend Tarox’s Sport Compact big brake kit. Featuring six-piston calipers and 321mm drilled or grooved discs, a set of ‘Corsa’ trackday pads and braided hoses, the £1500 Sport Compact kit has got everything you need to tame that turbo’d powerplant and keep the paintwork shiny side up.

Price: £1500
Contact: tarox.com

Vauxhall Corsa VXR

Bilstein Coilovers

While the Corsa’s shape does lend it to being dumped on the deck via a set of air-bags, we’d probably keep things coilovers, and play to the VXR’s track credentials while still getting in those essential lows. German suspension gurus Bilstein do all manner of options for hot hatches like the Corsa, but we’d go for the awesome B14 – PSS kit, which lowers the car by up to 50mm front and rear and features specially matched springs and dampers and Triple-C-Technology surface coating for long-lasting corrosion resistance.

Price: £696.92
Contact: bilsteinsuspensionstore.co.uk

Bola CSR Wheels

The Corsa VXR came with some pretty swanky, 18in wheels as standard, but no one wants to rock stock rims, so the aftermarket is your friend. Unfortunately, the Corsa’s fairly unique PCD and offset or 5×110 and ET45/50 means that you might find options fairly limited. But where there’s a will… Bola wheels have found the way, offering most of their styles in a huge range of fitments, including the Corsa VXR. We’d probably go for a set of the cool concave multi-spoke CSRs, which come in an 8x18in size and a host of finishes including bronze, silver, gunmetal and black to name a few.

Price: From £695
Contact: bolawheels.co.uk

Vauxhall Corsa VXR

Scorpion Exhaust System

The Corsa VXR comes with a trick centre exit exhaust system as standard, which pokes through a triangular aperture in the OEM rear diffuser – unless you have a Nurbugring edition which uses a twin pipe system. This means there’s not too many options for playing about with the design or the tailpipes, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still make gains. Gas-flow specialists Scorpion have a range of resonated and non-resonated cat-back systems that are made from 3in pipework to release any pent up horses and give the VXR a meatier exhaust mote to boot. They even come with a special triangular exhaust tip too!

Price: £312.92
Contact: scorpionexhaustshop.co.uk

Vauxhall Corsa VXR
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