Muscle Mustangs & Fast FordsCar Reviews
2012 Ford Mustang Boss 302 - Boss Therapy
Solve your problems with a session behind the wheel of the 444hp Boss 302
With some heat in the tires and a small understanding of the corners, I pushed the throttle down and the Boss played a wonderful song. It produced radical howl from the intake and a raspy snarl from the enhanced quad exhaust. The Boss system is tuned with pipes similar to the GT with 4-inch tips, but with a pair of unique side exits that dump just ahead of the rear tires. According to Ford, they don’t flow a lot, but they produce a wicked sound. The side pipes are somewhat hidden and feature small baffles, which one engineer told us "can easily fall out when a few bolts are loosened."
Power application is crisp with plenty of torque to get you off the corners even when the revs drop below 4,000. Above 5,500, it’s an animal, ripping right to redline--it even produces a sweet cackle on deceleration. Ford has greatly reduced the understeer commonly found in production Mustangs, which we found favorable. If you want the tail to wag, just drop a gear and apply the throttle.
While we didn’t do timed laps, we pushed and pushed, and the Boss never pushed back. The engine was flawless, as were the brakes and the suspension. Unfortunately, we didn’t have to the time to try altering the five-way adjustable dampers, but Ford assures us there is enough tuning to find perfection on the street or track.
Finally, we slipped into the Laguna Seca version--and, oh baby, what a ride. This low-production model wears, amongst other things, a larger front splitter, larger rear wheels, large brake-cooling ducts, and R-compound 255/40/19-inch Pirelli Corsa competition tires in front and 285/35s in the back. I was blown away with the on-track performance and it’s ability to maintain such good street manners. The tighter dampening does make for a stiffer ride, but it’s livable.
Since we were doing timed laps, I can’t tell you how much quicker the Laguna was, but there was enhanced grip and that gave me more confidence, especially during turn-in and on corner exit. I couldn’t believe how aggressively (and late) I could brake and how early in each corner I could get back to the throttle. The Laguna also benefited from a Torsen differential, which is optional on the standard Boss.
TracKey & Boss Immersion
Each Boss owner will be able to purchase the special TracKey, which literally unlocks amazing potential, and they will be enrolled in the Boss Track Attack program, which includes driving instruction at Miller Motorsports Park in Tooele, Utah, near Salt Lake City.
Available through Ford dealers, TracKey adds TrackMode powertrain control software, providing full race calibration and two-stage launch control without compromising the factory warranty. No aftermarket re-flash is needed, owners simply start the engine using an alternate Red key and you’re off. We’ve done just about everything possible to give TracKey users a full race-car experience, states Jeff Seaman, Mustang powertrain engineer. It alters over 300 calibration settings, providing, amongst other things, snappier throttle response and a lopey, big-cam idle that will make anyone within ear-shot envious. To be honest, while Ford claims the red TracKey is for track-only use, I’d lose the black key.
"Boss is an absolute blast to drive on the street, but we want owners to experience all the incredible balance, power, and performance engineered into this machine, and the only safe way to do that is to push the car to the limit on a closed course," said Mickey Matus of Ford Racing. Owners will need to make their own travel and lodging arrangements, but once in Utah, the full track experience, including the cars for the event, is courtesy of Ford.
Frankly, Boss has it all! Horsepower--check. Grip--check. Amazing brake--scheck. Racecar feel--check. Save for the rare ’08 GT500KR and the ’11 GT500, I’ve not felt such a high level of on-track performance from a production Mustang ever! Its balance was amazingly neutral no matter which suspension mode I selected. I was able to late-brake and the Pirelli tires dug in with endless grip--both entering and exiting the corners. On track, Boss somehow produces the feel, smells and sounds of a racecar, yet in a civilized manner. You feel as if you are able to push too hard for a street-legal Mustang.
Either model would make a stout daily driver. If you throw a few options at the base Boss, you get close to the MSRP on the Laguna, which is $47,140, and if you consider the exclusivity factor, the Laguna seems like the sweeter deal. But if you don’t like Black or the Ingot Silver Metallic, it could be a deal breaker.
In the end, it’s hard to imagine that Ford, or any other manufacturer, could off so much performance, heritage, and style in a production car for under $50,000. But every emotion in my body tells me I want one not for its collectibility, but because it’s just that good.