First DrivePowertrain, suspension, styling and equipment tweaks make Ford’s American icon more suited to European tastes.
First DriveIndependent dealer and tuning company Clive Sutton has tuned the 5.0 V8 Mustang again, this time with an epic 813bhp. Is it too much?
What is it?
The Ford Mustang Boss 302; the latest evolution of Ford’s all-American muscle car. Some may know the name since it was first used on the iconic 1969 Mustang, which was developed as a race-inspired version of the muscle car, using a high-revving naturally-aspirated motor and various other upgrades to become a benchmark for the Mustang in terms of handling as well as performance.
This new car is developed with the same aim in mind. The 5.0-litre V8 engine has been upgraded with new intake manifold, race-spec crank shaft, forged aluminium pistons and alloy cylinder heads amongst other tweaks, all of which allows it to rev to 7500rpm instead of the 7000rpm that the standard Mustang GT manages.
A short-throw six-speed manual gearbox, larger rear anti-roll bar, lowered springs (11mm at the front, 1mm at the rear) and adjustable shock absorbers finish the package, though you’ll have to get your socket set out and venture under the bonnet for a few minutes if you want to switch between any of the five settings the suspension offers.
What’s it like?
Quite a dramatic departure from the standard car. Ford claim this car can beat the 2010 BMW M3 around Laguna Seca, but that’s fairly irrelevant because the Mustang still falls short of the pliancy that the best German rivals offer on UK roads.
Even with that in mind, the Boss 302 is now a vastly improved car in terms of its handling. It will become unsettled if there are strong cornering forces as well as disturbances in the road’s surface, but it delivers a level of response and balance that should set a new standard for this breed of car.
And you won’t care about the finer points of the Boss 302’s handling because, whilst it does now corner with real poise and focus, it is still the general drama of this car that sells it so easily. The engine is a total joy in every situation. For all that there are sophisticated electronics involved, the V8 still feels, sounds and responds like a proper, old-school motor - just one that has discovered a new, frenetic energy in its willingness to rev right to the red-line. This is certainly not a V8 that you would describe as lazy.
Throttle and brake pedal response is perfectly judged and the pedals set up well for healing and toeing, whilst the steering is also nicely weighted and brings with it a decent level of feedback. Truthfully, this is a car that any enthusiast should see the appeal to. Ford has managed to strike a brilliant balance between the classic, heavy-duty feel of the Mustang whilst also enhancing it in every way with an indulgent motor and new-found levels of handling deftness.
As already mentioned, this is not the precision tool that you can find in comparable cars, but it is a car that delivers if you’re willing to work at it. For many, the slightly edgy element to the Mustang – that knowledge that it is still something that falls on the naughty side of anti-social and demands some respect in the way it’s handled, is only more of a draw to all the other very blatant attractions of the Boss 302.
Should I buy one?
Er, yes. Assuming you have a soul and a sense of fun, you probably don’t need us to confirm that. The really good thing about this Mustang is that it moves the goal posts in terms of what we should expect of muscle cars in the 21st century, without diluting all those things about the breed that will hopefully always define it. Of course, if you do want one of these utterly brilliant cars then you’ll have to import it from America, which means left-hand drive only and a bill that is likely to stack up to well over £42,000. For the performance that’s not too much to ask, let alone for the sort of unfettered delights that the Boss 302 offers.
Ford Mustang Boss 302
Price: £42,000 (est after import); 0-62mph: 5.0sec; Top speed: 156mph (est); Co2: na; Economy: na; Kerbweight: 1647kg; Engine: V8, 4951cc, petrol; Installation: Front, longitudinal, rwd; Power: 440bhp at 7500rpm; Torque: 380lbft; Gearbox: 6-spd manual