Marc Christ Associate Editor
May 1, 2010
Photos By: Kevin DiOssi

As MM&FF Editor Evan Smith heated the hides at Gainesville Raceway behind the wheel of the 2010 Roush Stage 3 Mustang, we were hoping for, and expecting, a high-11-second quarter-mile pass. Our Stage 3 tester was packing 540 hp-an animal on the dyno and on the street.

Still in bone-stock trim, Smith edged up to the starting line, staged ever so shallow, revved the engine, and waited for the Tree to come down. With the blown mod mill poised at 3,000 rpm, the lights dropped and Smith traded feet. The 540hp Three-Valve let out a grunt, the Cooper RS3s shrieked slightly, and the Roush was gone in a Kona Blue flash. A mean growl emitted from the tuned exhaust, echoing off the control tower, and there was nary a flash in rpm on each powershift. Finally, the Stage 3 was in high gear and screaming when it crossed the stripe. The outcome: 11.57 at 124.78 mph!

Though the '10 Roush Stage 3 performed one of the most impressive quarter-mile e.t.'s for a showroom-stock Mustang, there's much more to the story.

After spending a few weeks with the '10 Stage 3, we can say it's the best Roush Mustang ever assembled. It's racy, attractive, and unmistakable; the interior quality and comfort level rivals luxury sedans; and its balance of driveability and raw power is incredible.

To create a package with 540 hp, Roush used an engine like the one featured in the '09 Roush P-51B. It begins with an aluminum Three-Valve block that houses a forged steel crankshaft, forged H-beam rods, and forged pistons with a sizeable dish to take the compression ratio from 9.8:1 to 8.6:1. This fortified and boost-friendly short-block is fitted with stock heads, and topped with a Roush intake manifold and a R2300 Roushcharger. The 2.3L TVS features a textured black finish and an eight-rib pulley, which is driven by its own separate belt and pulley system. It also features an air-to-water intercooler with a separate reservoir.

The team then added unique fuel rails and 52-lb/hr injectors, and the fuel pump was upgraded to a high-flow unit. The stock TR-3650 remains, but the clutch has been swapped for a heavy-duty disc and a lightweight aluminum flywheel. There's also a Roush shifter, which looks great but isn't the smoothest shifting unit we've ever laid our mitts on.

Like other '10 Roush Mustangs, the Stage 3's exterior features stylized front and rear fascias, emblems and striping, 18-inch chrome wheels, big brakes, and a full suspension upgrade.

"The Roush Stage 3 Mustang has traditionally been among the halo vehicles of our lineup, and I'm really proud that it sits atop the pecking order once again," said Jack Roush. "This new iteration of the Stage 3 represents our highest horsepower and most sophisticated Roush Mustang yet, and is sure to resonate among our fans."

Our initial driving impression was one of great excitement. With more power on hand than any previous Roush, smoking the tires just depends on how far you press the loud pedal. Under light acceleration, though, it's easy to forget you're driving a 500-plus-horsepower Mustang. The rumble from the exhaust and whine from the supercharger aren't annoying, but loud enough to let everyone know you're not in a stocker. There's a bit of chatter from the clutch on slow takeoffs, but not enough to be irritating under most driving conditions.

The interior, like the exterior, is loaded with Roush-specific components. Sport leather seats with embroidered "Jack Roush" signature dominate the interior compartment. They give the driver (and front passenger) extra head, lumbar, hip, and leg support without feeling too racy or stiff. Entrance and exit are easy, and the seating comfort is excellent, worthy of a long road trip.