2012 Mustang Boss 302: This Boss Commands Respect0
When Ford announced that the 5.0L V8 was coming back to life for the 2011 model year, the Boss 302 rumors immediately followed. We haven’t seen the Boss 302 name grace a Mustang since 1970. It’s back for the 2012 model year and after a few days in one, it is safe to say it is the must-have Mustang since the last Boss 302.
The Boss 302 has 444 HP and 380 lb-ft of twist. No, those aren’t Shelby GT500 numbers at all. I mean, this is a 5.0L from the GT with 32 more horsepower, how could it possibly compete?? This car is all about the whole package, not just the engine. The adjustable suspension, Recaro seats, and slick shifting six-speed transmission immediately come together in perfect harmony, like gin & tonic or . It’s just so yummy.
No, this car isn’t for everyone. If you have bad teeth or a muscle disorder that would prevent you from smiling, you should avoid this car at all costs because smiles are a major side effect. All it took was one freeway on-ramp for the smile effect to hit me. The aural pleasure is also something that must be experienced in the flesh to be fully appreciated. The fuel cuts off at 7500 RPMs. A V8 at 7400 RPMs with a quad exhaust system can put heads on a swivel in a split second. Driving like that might require one to get on the horn for a credit increase on the American Express. Keep it under control and the EPA says 17 mpg city and 26 mpg highway. No guzzler tax here.
The Boss is all about simple pleasure. There is no Sync, USB, or power anything. This is about the man (or woman) and his car. From the high revving V8 to the TracKey with launch control, the Boss 302 is a Mustang with multiple personality disorder. The Boss 302 is track capable right out of the Flat Rock, Michigan plant to have street legal fun. The adjustable shocks make track time more fun but also allow the Boss 302 the ability to be a daily driver. The TracKey, an option available from your Ford dealer, unleashes some wild ponies from the barn with new features that aren’t even available on the Shelby GT500. The TracMode software changes more than 200 engine management configurations, such as increasing low-end torque helping to turn the stock Boss 302 into a competition-ready track car. I had the chance to play with launch control and I have to say, Ford has nailed the software. What a treat.
So, as I mentioned, this is the must-have Mustang. Anyone who thought the Shelby GT500 was the Grand Poobah is right, until you pick apart the numbers. Road & Track saw 60 MPH fly by in 4.1 seconds and the quarter mile evaporate in 12.3 seconds. Oh, and they found it could pull over 1g on the skid pad. Did I mention that the Boss 302 starts at a hair over $40,000? Still have that eye on the Shelby GT500? You better be ready to cough up another $9,000. I don’t think that when Ford engineers started working on the Boss 302 they had any intention of dethroning the Shelby GT500 from the top spot amongst the most coveted new Mustangs you can buy today, but I’d be hard pressed to find anyone who might think that the Shelby GT500 is a better overall car.
So, is the Boss 302 the equivalent of The Playboy Mansion Disney World as the ultimate in rear-wheel drive pleasure for $40K? Pretty much. My only beef with the Boss were the abysmal headlights. They couldn’t keep up with the acceleration. They had a sharp cutoff just in front of the car and didn’t give me enough light to put the hammer down in the dark. Had this actually been my car, I would have grabbed a screwdriver and rectified the situation in about thirty seconds.
As I’ve mentioned before, I used to own a 2004 Cobra. With the 2012 Boss 302 coming up with a scant 10 lb-ft less of torque and a 54 more horsepower than my 2004 Cobra, all for the same price today that I paid back in 2004 (plus a gas guzzler tax for the 2004 Cobra), I’d have to say that the Boss 302 is the best car for the horsepower and refinement that $40,000 can buy. One fault of all Mustangs today is the lack of curtain airbags. If I could get past this one obsessive compulsive safety issue I might be able to convince my better half that I need one of these. Wait a minute…the 2004 Cobra didn’t have curtain airbags. We might be on to something…”Oh Kristy…”