Muscle Mustangs & Fast FordsCar Reviews
Rip This Joint
We take Jack Roush's '05 Stage 2 Mustang to the limit and back.
When the Torch Red Roush Stage 2 tester arrived on our doorstep, we were almost burned by the intensity of the heat. With only 45 miles on the clock, it stood boldly with the authority of a heavyweight fighter. We didn't get out of the MM&FF lot before eyes popped and questions flew our way.
The Le Mans stripes flowed over the race car-like skin. The body's low stance is the way all Mustangs should sit (not on their tippy-toes as they come from Ford). The wheel and tire combo glistened, and after cracking off the throttle a few times, we couldn't wait to turn those BFG tires in anger. This car was going 100 sitting still--it even attracted the attention of the local law. Thankfully, the officer was a car dude who simply wanted a closer look.
Over the past decade, Roush Performance has gained prominence with an incredibly strong lineup of Stage 1, 2, and 3 Mustangs, as well as other special-addition models, many of which have been among the best-performing "tuner" cars (if we dare call them such) on the market. Roush also cranks out OE-quality aftermarket parts and a wide assortment of crate engines.
Like the earlier SN-95-based Roush models, the latest is a winner. Each Roush Mustang starts as a new Mustang GT, which is morphed into a killer for the street or track with a much-improved balance of horsepower and handling. In addition, Roush adds his unique styling. And that's exactly why we were jazzed about getting our paws on this snazzy Stage 2. "The design direction of the stock '05 Mustang GT couldn't have been any better for application," Jack Roush says. "Our design theme, since we created the first Roush Mustang, was connected to my traditional design preferences."
You won't need a ruler to figure out that the Stage 2 is slammed and slathered with goodness. And this comes by way of a revised suspension, a six-piece aerobody kit, 18-inch wheels and tires, a boisterous rear-exit exhaust, lower valance foglamps, embroidered floor mats, and Roush badges.
Roush Performance engineers spent about a year developing the suspension package that uses specifically designed springs, struts, and shocks to provide improved handling and good ride quality. Where some specialty Mustangs leave you begging for mercy over the long haul, there is zero degradation in the ride quality of the Roush versus the factory GT. This is the result of tons of testing and a decree from Jack Roush himself that it would have to ride as well as stock.
The Stage 2 suspension includes enlarged antiroll bars (front goes from 34 mm to 35 mm and rear is increased from 22 mm to 24 mm), revised bumpstops, and 18x10-inch Roush wheels with large 275/40ZR18 BFGoodrich g-Force T/A kd tires.
"We used our previous generation Stage 3 Mustang as a minimum performance level starting point for our development work, and then we raised our targets from there," says Roush Performance Engineering Manager Paul Burke. "We placed a high priority on preventing NVH [noise, vibration, harshness] issues that can accompany suspension part changes, while developing ride quality that wasn't harsh, and closer to a production performance car feel. The result is a complete suspension car tune that can pull over 1.02 g's of lateral acceleration on a skidpad, provide exceptional handling at the track, and is enjoyable to drive for long distance."
We put the Stage 2 to the test in the real world and it proved to be everything Burke said. The suspension flat-out worked, as we proved on our 13-turn handling track as well as the quarter-mile strip at Englishtown's Raceway Park.