November 20, 2012
2013 Ford Mustang Boss 302. Click image to enlarge
Boss braking is courtesy of, you guessed it, Brembo, to the tune of four-piston calipers clamping down on 14-inch (355-mm) ventilated front rotors and upgraded rear pads on the standard GT brakes in back. Brake feel is okay, but not as impressive as outright performance. Pirelli PZero summer tires measuring 255/40R19 front and 285/35R19 rear, translate the massive brakes and steering into immense braking and cornering grip, and I was lucky enough to enjoy it during some fine fall weather that allowed me to enjoy its grip on highway on-ramps.
Making power delivery even more precise was a torque-sensing (Torsen) limited slip differential, and allowing greater driver control were the race-ready Recaro sport seats that lock you in with high bolsters and grippy Alcantara seating surfaces. However, even with only several thousand kilometres on the odometer, the seats were already showing signs of wear, likely because of all the wiggling necessary to plant yourself firmly into them within the deep bolstering.
If you don’t yet know that the Mustang rides on an independent front suspension and live rear axle than you’ve been living in automotive oblivion for forty years (or if you don’t understand what that means), then you should probably be shopping for the Mustang Convertible V6 with the premium package as reviewed by Mike Schlee recently. And anyone who complains about the live rear axle is missing the point. The live rear axle gives the Mustang a touch of wildness that is implied right there in its name. This car isn’t called an Arabian stallion or thoroughbred or dressage horse. On anything but a racetrack, mid-corner bumps will result in a bucking back end, and even on straight roads, rough surfaces will result in greater than usual rotation and the hard ride also means you’ll feel all of these imperfections as much as you will feel the grip and rotation when pushing it on track.
While I planned to install car seats and take my daughter for a spin, I gave up after about five seconds trying to squeeze a seat into the deep buckets in back. The contortions it took to just get the seat inside the car were enough to discourage me. However, if you have kids out of car seats and the parents aren’t too tall, you might very well make your kid look like the coolest kid in school (assuming you’ve already bought them an iPad, iPhone, and every other iGizmo in the catalogue).
But back to my original question: is this a hero car or a villain car? On the one side, it’s painted School Bus Yellow, so it can’t possibly be all evil (and that is actually the name of the colour, not just a nickname we give it… and I swear I did not park the Mustang next to a school bus for those pics—it just drove right into my photo session). It also offers heroic levels of grip, but its menacing looks and megalomaniacal and constant exhaust cackle tended to bring out the most insidious and villainous, if not downright antisocial behaviour in me.
I guess that leaves this car as the antihero, an unconventional throwback that has trouble fitting with a modern landscape, but brings its old-fashioned power to bear in an honourable way even if it is on the wrong side of the law, occasionally. Okay, maybe I’m being a little theatrical here, but whether you think the Mustang is a menace or heaven-sent, it can never be accused of lacking in character, and this Boss 302, the alpha Mustang in the stable lives up to the name, a Boss in every way.
Pricing: 2013 Ford Mustang Boss 302
Base Price: $39,299
Options: $11,400 (Equipment Group 500A: Boss 302 package, Sync – $9,500; Recaro Sport Seats, helical limited slip differential – $1,900)
A/C Tax: $100
Freight & PDI: $1,500
Price as tested: $52,299