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2013 Ford Mustang Boss 302

Posted Dec 14th 2012 11:57AM

Ford Delivers on Short-Run M3 Fighter

We'll be the first to admit that we get excited when we see special editions. No, not graphics packages, chrome wheels and bright coloured stitching but real, tangible tweaks to cars that are purpose-built. And by 'purpose' we mean for the track, yet still refined enough to live with on that sluggish commute to work. When the Ford Mustang Boss 302 revealed itself, we weren't sure what to expect. Would it be a handful of minor tweaks like a Bullitt or would the upgrades be substantially more? Well, Ford delivered the goods with the Boss 302.

The Mustang Boss 302 is a track ready car right out of the box. Buyers of this vehicle are seeking it out for a reason and that reason is to tear it up. But at the same time, this isn't a one dimensional Mustang, it's so much more than the sum of its burnouts and ability to light up the quarter mile. As Ford's Marketing Boss, Jim Farley once said, "We were not going to do this project unless we could beat an M3 at [Laguna Seca]."

A bold claim indeed but we went in with an open mind and looked past all of the hang-ups we have about the car as a whole. We wanted leave behind everything we had come to know about the Mustang and the hyped-up versions it spawned to really wring this revised model out. And thanks to our extensive time in the car, that is exactly what we did.

From a styling perspective, the Mustang has truly found it's identity since the throwback of '05. While we always felt, the early retro-styling was awkward, the 2013 Mustang is a striking automobile after years of steady improvement. The rear of the vehicle with it's flush LED tail panel finished in piano black is quite an improvement and is not fleeting because it continues to impress. The sequential LED turn signal function is unique and the tri-bar design has set the tail of the Mustang apart from the masses.

Up front, the elongated rise in the hood integrates two functional louvers that spew heat vapour at every stoplight – and we're good with that. The revised headlights are now piercing HID projectors with subtle light strip accents inside a sharper housing. The open-mouth grille is now gaping in what can only be described as the impending strike of a predator. The front overhang is more pronounced and the lower front fascia is now carefully sculpted with functional inlets and a matching set of projector fogs.

Overall, the Boss 302 has this sinister, unapologetic presence about it and we're far from done mentioning more of what only adds to that. The functional, yet subtle rear spoiler and rear diffuser promise to keep the Stang grounded while the pronounced splitter up front aims to reduce lift. The bold, matte black (actually reflective) vinyl stripes on the car really moved us. The hockey stick stripe carries along above the rocker then juts upward and connects with the stripe running up the hood which flares outward. Sure they existed on the 2012 model but dare we say, this BOSS earned it's stripes?

Built with Canadian-pride in Windsor, this mill has 444 hp of usable horsepower coming on at 7,400 rpm and an even more utilitarian 380 lb-ft of torque at 4,500

Now the exhaust, yes, that exhaust is not only visually appealing but it sounds haunting at full song. The rather large polished stainless steel cannons out back are at first glance, a menacing true dual setup as opposed to every other dual-style out there. But you would be wrong in assuming that because the Boss 302 actually features a quad exhaust that also exits out the sides just before the rear wheels. The side-pipes link up at the cross over and pipe exhaust out the side of the vehicle unmuffled and more accurately, unmuzzled. There is nothing that sounds like a Boss 302 and even basic car guys can identify it from far away. Want the howl of the Boss to be more outrageous? No sweat, the internet will show you how to remove the baffles in the side-pipes in about 30 minutes.

Now, we need to discuss the merits of this Coyote. The 5.0-litre engine is fantastic and although we like it in the GT, we want to marry it and settle down with it in the Boss 302. Built with Canadian-pride in Windsor, this mill has 444 hp of usable horsepower coming on at 7,400 rpm and an even more utilitarian 380 lb-ft of torque at 4,500, this 32V V8 gets it done. Inside are forged pistons and forged steel connecting rods to spin this 8-slug up to 7,500 rpm all day, every day. The cold air induction feeding this beast is flanked by tubular headers that expel gas post-combustion. Around the track, it just never seemed to run out of jam while rocketing out of the apex, lap after hot lap. But this 11.0:1 compression motor will run out of fuel though and that is of the 91 octane premium variety only.

Our first engagement with the Boss 302 was at the Ford test track in Romeo, MI. While that was the slightly different 2012 model, it gave us an opportunity to auto-cross the Boss in both regular and Laguna Seca trim (not available in Canada for 2013). Since then, we spent an entire week with the 2013 and even flogged it in unholy ways at Calabogie Motorsports Park. The technical track consists of 5.0 kilometres incorporating a wide variety of 20 turns. The Boss was most certainly ready for a challenge like this and testing it against every other conceivable Mustang was very insightful.

The 3-link solid rear axle that soaks up the turns and never felt unstable as we hammered the rumble strips.

The Boss has impressive acceleration and a vast amount of torque available. While this might be a higher revving V8 than we might see from a domestic manufacturer, it helps cornering with the snappy throttle. Mustang suspensions of yore have been described as archaic but what we have here is a tuned suspension that is adjustable for the track. With the Torsen LSD on board and AdvanceTrac enabled, we gained some solid feedback on what the suspension was capable off. The Boss is stiffer, lower and raked slightly forward with 11 mm less ride height up front. And Ford has apparently done the impossible with a 3-link solid rear axle that soaks up the turns and never felt unstable as we hammered the rumble strips. The weight transfer was predictable but we did experience mild understeer, which could be reeled in by adding a bit more throttle.

The braking department has most definitely been sorted as well. The standard Brembo brakes on the Boss 302 are 4-piston 355mm (14-inch) up front with 300mm (11.8-inch) in the rear. These pinchers are fitted with capable performance friction compound pads made from pixie dust that apparently doesn't make noise or a mess while driving around town either. The athletics of the Boss 302 is due in large part to the Pirelli PZero summer tires measuring 255/40R19 up front and 285/35R19 in the back. While we give top marks to the tires, the style of 19-inch wheels aren't much to boast about as opposed to say, the slick GT500 wheels.

Inside the cabin, you start to remember you are still driving a Mustang. It may beat an M3 at Laguna Seca but the interior is certainly outclassed. But such is the existence of a bang-for-the-buck car and well, our Boss 302 had the optional $1900 Recaro seats (which is bundled with Torsen LSD) that were a massive improvement. Well supported, attractive and well constructed did we mention Recaros and an LSD for under $2-grand? While the 8-ball shifter and Alacantara wrapped wheel are highlights, the balance of the interior is basically the GT complete with the same gripe we have in all Mustangs, the tilt steering release. We can't count how many times we've hopped out of a Mustang and cranked the inside of our right kneecaps on this protrusion.

Our tester had the Premium sound with SYNC and satellite which does the job but our favourite gadget was the TrackApps in the centre of the cluster (standard on the Boss). In addition to all of the performance measurements like 0-60mph, quarter mile, braking and g-forces around the track, the interface also has launch control. That's right, launch control on a 6-speed manual that is totally easy to setup and makes even the most inept drivers feel like heroes by blazing to 60 mph (96 km/h) in 4.2-seconds on the way to mid-12s in the quarter mile. And surprisingly the system lets you set the launch control all the way up to the 7,500 rpm redline – perfection!

For those who can afford the $48,799 purchase price ($51,929 as tested), the Boss 302 is fantastic performance value

Ford has put together a winner here and those who bleed blue promptly got in line for purchase. However, all indicators point to the fact that the Boss 302 will not appear in the 2014 lineup, so don't sleep on this one. For those who can afford the $48,799 purchase price ($51,929 as tested), the Boss 302 is fantastic performance value and might we add collector appeal now. As for the insurance though, it will be on the high side and the fuel economy is a lofty 15.7L/100 km (15 mpg) in the city but a respectable 9.0 L/100 km (26 mpg) on the highway.

We mentioned that the Boss 302 is very compliant in the city and most certainly attracts a load of attention running the streets, mostly from the kids. We'll never forget one starry-eyed boy running after our 'Gotta Have it Green' tester rumbling through his quiet residential neighbourhood. He finally caught up at the stop sign with Mom in the distance yelling at him. "That s*&t is awesome!" he blurted out and while his Mom didn't approve, we totally agree.


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