Friday, September 30, 2011

2012 Ford Mustang Boss 302

Jim Farley, Ford’s group VP of global marketing, didn’t have to fly to California for the debut of the Mustang Boss 302. No one told him to. “It’s just that I’ve been driving my own Mustang right through the last two Michigan winters thinking about this project,” he said. “From a business standpoint, the Boss 302 shouldn’t have happened. But it happened. My dream for the car was that it would make a lot of money for a guy street racing. It should be a car that winds up on YouTube doing something illegal. I’ve been waiting 20-plus years to launch a car like this.”

The decision to resurrect the Boss 302 was made in the darkest days of the recession. Is Ford brave or what? Especially since it’s so rare that offspring are able to match the feats of legendary forebears, as Charlie Sheen can attest.

To eke out of the Mustang GT’s 5.0-liter V-8 a bonus 32 horses, Ford created a new intake manifold with runners resembling velocity stacks. Different cylinder heads were deployed—stronger alloy and altered ports—with each head undergoing 2.5 hours of CNC massaging. The bearings are race-spec and the baffled pan holds 8.5 quarts of synthetic oil.

The result is 444 hp at 7500 rpm, a happy medium between the Mustang GT’s 412 hp and the Shelby GT500’s 550 hp. The Boss’s V-8—unlike the brutish Shelby’s—doesn’t so often overwhelm its chassis. In fact, what you first notice—and this is very BMW-ish—is that the Boss’s engine, driveline, and suspension draw virtually no attention to each others’ eccentricities. It lends the package a gratifying sense of unity that inspires confidence.

This V-8 is so vigorous and charismatic that it ought to be carved on Mount Rushmore. The engine revs nearly as quickly as you can flex your right foot, feeling as if it displaces maybe three liters. What’s more, despite all that cam, it idles as smooth as a Camry.

Sans traction control, launching the Boss takes some practice, although never has practice been so fun. Side-step the clutch with too many revs and you’ll trigger axle tramp followed by a cumulous cloud of Pirelli particulates that will only swell in size all the way through second gear. The trick is to slip the clutch from around 3500 rpm, then mat the throttle when the axle says, “Yeah, I’m feelin’ settled and relaxed back here.” The result is 60 mph in what we estimate to be the mid-fours, which would put the Boss right on the heels of the jackhammer GT500. And once that live axle is placated . . . well, the Boss doesn’t feel as if it loses an inch to its Shelby sibling. The accelerative kick flings sunglasses and coins and pens in the center bin backward against a plastic wall, sounding as if they’ve just hit the bottom of a ventilator shaft.

This is accompanied by a mellifluous resonance-free exhaust note that is an unlikely aural congruence of, say, Lexus IS F and Roush/Yates Sprint Cup engine. It’s a four-way exhaust—two sewer pipes astern and one per side, exiting just in front of the rear wheels. A restrictor plate in each side pipe lends the Boss federal pass-by legality, but the baffles can be unbolted in less time than it takes to read this review. It’s lucky that the rumble is so rich, because the engine is seriously loud at idle.

The Boss’s suspension has likewise benefited from a lavish labor of love. Compared with the GT, it boasts higher-rate springs, a fatter rear bar, new bushings, and 19-inch Pirelli P Zeros that, at the rear, are mounted on 9.5-inch-wide wheels. What’s more, each shock offers five settings that are adjustable via screwdriver, creating the possibility of very strange chassis behavior at the hands of very strange owners. Again, is Ford brave or what? And experimenting with dampers is educational, fun, and will make you feel like Parnelli Jones’s crew chief.

Ford has forever treated its Mustangs as blue-collar contrivances of unprepossessing heritage. The cockpit thus remains dour and rudimentary, despite the Alcantara-wrapped steering wheel and the faux machine-turned aluminum trim. The acres of coarse pebbled-plastic surfaces, in particular, would be (and have been) rejected in far less expensive machines, notably in Ford’s own Focus. The gaping void between the top of the rear tires and the rolled fender lips is an eyesore. The steering column doesn’t telescope. And the brake and accelerator pedals should be closer.
We expected the Boss 302 to be little more than a marketing exercise in nostalgia, a somewhat more brutal, slightly faster GT, with alluring graphics but primitive predilections. It isn’t. Nose to tail, this feels like a whole new equine, thoroughly sorted, conscientiously massaged, the object of considerable forethought and ambition. As automotive resurrections go, this is a knockout that venerates the original Boss while embarrassing it objectively and subjectively in every meaningful measure. What this is, is the best Mustang ever. Copyright @ 2011 - Theme by NanLimo - Thanks to Google