Frank H. Cicerale
May 1, 2008

Step By Step

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Mmfp_0805_roush_08_z 2008_roush_427R_mustang Front_view
Jackrabbit drag starts were as easy as power-braking and floor-boarding the throttle.
Mmfp_0805_roush_06_z 2008_roush_427R_mustang Burnout_rear_view
We employed a set of drag radials to coax a 12.20 at 109 from the 427R.
Mmfp_0805_roush_12_z 2008_roush_427R_mustang Decklid_badge
A "Stage 427" badge decorates the rear of the Mustang.
Mmfp_0805_roush_07_z 2008_roush_427R_mustang FenderMmfp_0805_roush_09_z 2008_roush_427R_mustang Drifting_out
Lapping the Roush on a cold track caused some serious oversteer for Editorial Director Jim Campisano.
Mmfp_0805_roush_10_z 2008_roush_427R_mustang EngineMmfp_0805_roush_11_z 2008_roush_427R_mustang GaugesMmfp_0805_roush_15_z 2008_roush_427R_mustang Side_view

Street Smarts
The 427R has an ominous presence on the street. It extracts mad attention from car guys and girls, too. I can't recall a test car that caused so many cell phone cameras to be whipped out. Even the teenagers on my block had their jaws dropping, as did the guy at the local pizza joint. There's something magical about this car and the numbers 4-2-7. Be it the 427 badging, the side stripe, or the aggressive overall look, this Stang makes heads turn--rapidly. Thankfully, there is performance to match.

Though we were skeptical at the start, it didn't take long to love the automatic. Just pop it in gear, and you can deal with the daily commute, or romp it and turn great numbers without the fear of a missed gear or a broken driveline component.

In typical Roush fashion, the suspension was tuned for improved handling, but it was not overly aggressive. Cornering performance was enhanced with Roush springs, shocks, and struts. Additionally, our car was fitted with the optional 14-inch brake upgrade ($2,699), which made stopping quickly a treat.

The lowered stance, racy bodywork, and gaggle of stripes take the 427R from base Mustang to ultra-Stang status. Our automatic was also equipped with Roush white-faced gauges ($390), Sport seats ($1,725), rear-quarter louvers ($315), locking lug nuts with key bag ($60), an interior trim kit consisting of a carbon-fiber overlay ($350), and Roush Rocker Plates ($57). Total MSRP was $51,085. Expensive, yes, but that's a lot of content. You can trim back and get the base 427R package for $15,599 over the price of a Mustang GT.

If we have to complain, it's that everyone, and we mean everyone, asks if it has a 427 engine, and sadly you have to say "no." Nor does it have 427 hp (which it did in 2006-'07) so you can't even explain that the 427 refers to the horsepower rating.

OK, we can get over that, but more importantly, we didn't like the Cooper Zeon 275/40/18-inch tires that just didn't stick. They spun feverishly on the street, even when accelerating with moderate throttle, and more so in the rain. We mainly drove the 427R in colder conditions (where you can expect reduced traction), but nevertheless, the tires didn't provide the level of grip we would expect from a $51,000 car.

Clark explains, "As you know, when the 427R was introduced last year, it had 427 hp, which was the base for the model name/number. When we were able to increase the horsepower in 2008 [to 435] there were internal discussions about keeping the name or changing it. In the end, it was Jack Roush who decided that the 427R should evolve into a model number in the Roush lineup, likening it to the Porsche 911. Over the years, Porsche has changed that car in multiple ways, but consumers recognize the model and the family heritage. That is the same approach that Roush is taking with the 427R--making it into a family that could change and evolve from model year to model year."

On a brighter note, the Three-Valve 4.6 is amazing. It benefits from an intercooled RoushCharger making about 5 psi of boost, which is enhanced with a Roush computer tune to produce the aforementioned 435 ground-pounding horsepower and 400 lb-ft of torque. We enjoyed the abundance of low- and midrange torque present at tip-in, and when we squeezed for wide-open throttle, the blower howled, and we accelerated at a rapid rate. This car will spin the tires at will, although traction control keeps you in check. Delete "TC" with a press of the dash-mounted button, and you can have the tail hangin' out all over town.

"As for the automatic," Clark says, "the last time Roush made one available was in 2003. Now, with the popularity of our vehicles, the dealer base and consumer calls to our customer service department have been asking for that as an option. There are a lot of people living in major metropolitan areas who deal with heavy traffic, and a lot of customers just prefer the simplicity of an automatic. With that, we obtained the certifications needed. I doubt that the sales of the automatic will ever equal the manual transmission, but we anticipate them to grow as people become aware of the availability and just how quick and how much fun the automatics are."

We give the Roush 427R a solid "A." During our evaluation, we knocked down 20 mpg (city and highway) and scored many, many looks. Our staff agreed that the 427R is just plain fun to drive, more so than we ever imagined.