I never owned a Mustang. There are no specific reasons for it other than perhaps insurance cost or its lack of refinement. I never dismissed the ‘Stang, I simply chose to spend my money on something else. At a recent event, Ford gave me an opportunity to hoon the new Boss, and I came away with a few observations.
Ford realizes that many buyers have been overlooking the Mustang, yet spending more money on less powerful cars, such as Audi’s S4. Over the past few years Ford has been polishing up their iconic car in order to compete with others not only on performance level but curb appeal too. Most notable are interior improvements and options which now appeal to track junkies and casual enthusiasts alike. Ford wants to sell the Mustang to the car-loving yuppies, badly.
The first step in driving the new Boss 302 was appropriately, a drag race. Well, sort off. This was eighth-mile run designed to demonstrate Mustang’s new launch control. The system is rather simple: set the desired launch RPM via steering wheel buttons, hold the clutch, floor the gas, and drop the clutch (just dump it). Bam, you’re taking off like a seasoned pro.
I have never used a launch control system before. In my opinion such system would perform magic to minimize wheel spin to get car off the line as fast as possible on any given surface. The Mustang system does not do that. You dial in the RPM and it just holds it for you, dial in too much and it will smoke ‘em. It’s a cool toy, it allows showing off while reducing the potential for making an ass of one self. However, I doubt that anyone who has been to a drag strip more than once will be using it.
I was impressed with the fact that Ford was using the same Mustang for two days of non-stop drag launches. Unlike some so-called exotic cars which limit the amount hard launches, this thing just kept going and going. Is this a testament to the live axle?
Before heading to the auto-cross section, I took the time to sit in the Laguna Seca, as I like to get familiar with a vehicle before driving it. I did not love the interior; the dash was high, as was the car’s beltline, resulting in somewhat limited visibility. The seat’s headrest was right against my head and it was not adjustable. Suede/Alcantara steering wheel was nice but could be thicker. Shifter was nice, short yet firm (TWSS, ha!). One thing I noticed in the drag race was the tachometer was too far to the right, often obscured by the steering wheel.
I donned a helmet and jumped into a yellow Boss. Even with the Recaro seat to the floor, my helmet was almost touching the roof and the headrest was pushing my head even more foreword. With the seat so low, visibility got worse. After reclining the seat some more, I was off. Funny thing about Mustangs, once moving the interior issues simply disappear.
Being unfamiliar with the car and the road course, I took it easy. I kept recalling driving class instructions from years back, while paying attention to my hand position and where I should be looking. I did well. Not surprisingly the car did well too. Was it good, awesome, or bad? I have no idea, I could not possibly judge it based on that amount of time, but it was fun.
Next up was the Boss Laguna Seca edition. Everything was pretty much the same, except three gauges mounted on top of the dash, further reducing visibility. Instantly noticeable was the increased grip of the border-line R-compound tire. I knew the course now, I knew the car, and I knew what I was doing. Well, I thought I did, right up to the point where I span out. Good thing no one saw that. Oh wait, there is a video.
The price of a full-loaded Boss 302 Laguna Seca is around fifty thousand. That’s right up there with the S4 and 335i. I have a feeling that the Mustang does not lease as well as the Germans either. Fifty grand also buys a base Corvette. While the numbers of the Boss, be it horsepower, acceleration, or track times, are all better than the mentioned cars, is that enough to sell it to a yuppie?
It would also be unfair not to mention that the biggest potential competition to the Boss maybe its little brother, the GT. With few carefully chosen options and some extra after-market cash thrown at it, it would probably keep up with the Boss when both are in the hands of inexperienced drivers. But then, the whole idea of the Boss is that it comes out of the box with all the goodies many people would bolt-on to it right after driving it off the dealer lot, hell it comes with side pipes!
The base Mustang is now a proper car and not just a Hawaiian rental. The GT is a great value and with options such as the glass roof, fancy audio systems, and attention-getting HID headlamps, it is creeping into the yuppie category. Big car magazines say the Boss can hang with the M3 on the track and the Shelby GT500 can take on some lesser exotics. Good job Ford, keep at it.