Courtesy of Ford Motor Company
May 20, 2011

Forged pistons and steel connecting rods with strengthened bolts were also added, as were race-specific engine bearings. The engine is filled with full-synthetic 5W50 oil, and the pan has baffling to keep the oil in place under 1.0g cornering. Redline is raised to 7,500, which is where it makes peak power. There is only a 10 lb-ft drop in torque from the base 5.0 engine.

The core group of engineers understands and respects the heritage of the name and the history behind the original engine, explained V-8 Engine Program Manager Mike Harrison in his English accent. What most people don’t realize is that engine stresses increase exponentially as engine speeds rise. So moving from the GT’s 7,000 redline required significant re-engineering. Sacrificing reliability was never an option.

Our love affair really began in the curves. Each tester was equipped with the Recaro buckets that are standard on the Laguna and optional on the Boss 302, so we didn’t get to try out the standard Boss seats. And while they look nice with the cloth/suede combo with Boss 302 stitched in the seat back you’d be crazy not to order the amazing cloth Recaro buckets that are more befitting of this Stang. The Recaro buckets are similar to the GT500 seats, but with manual adjustment to save weight. While ultra-supportive, they are suitable for the daily commute, a long haul, or the track.

The steering wheel is also to our liking. Wrapped in suede Alcantara, it feels right, especially when you dial in to your favorite of the three steering modes in the speed- sensitive EPAS. Using the IP-mounted controls you can toggle easily from Comfort, Normal, and Sport setting. I liked it best in the Sport mode because it provided the heaviest effort (or feel); with that, I felt most connected.

Due to the attentive police presence (they must have been tipped off) and the fact that we’d soon be on one of the most famous race tracks in America, Kinnan and I saved the best for the track. Nevertheless, I was thrilled with the on-road compliance. The Boss wasn’t harshin fact, on the street, you’d hardly know it was sprung and dampened much differently than a base GT. It was a bit flatter in the curves, but not rough. You could drive one every day.

"We’ve given drivers five settings for their shocks," said Brent Clark, Supervisor of Vehicle Dynamics. "A customer can drive to the track on setting two, and crank it up to four or five for better response on track." The team also opted for race-style, hands-on adjustment done with a small screwdriver. "The suspension has been further refined with higher-rate coil springs (lowered by 11mm at the front and 1mm in the rear), stiffer bushings, and a stiffer rear stabilizer bar. All of which leads to a balanced package that works great on the street or the track."

Laguna Seca

As if the Boss 302 isn’t enough to take in, Ford will offer a second modelthe Boss 302 Laguna Seca. This track-ready version comes standard with stiffer dampers, rear-seat delete with a special X-brace to enhance chassis rigidity, a very aggressive front splitter, larger rear wing, wider rear wheels, and sticker tires. Standard are the Recaro seats, Torsen differential, and brake-cooling ducts.

Since it was my first time to the historic circuit, I spent the first two sessions in the standard Boss learning the intricate corners, including the famous Corkscrew, a blind, rollercoaster-like bend that virtually drops you off a cliff. It is unnerving, to say the least. Still, I drove fast, achieving over 1 g of cornering and braking force on many lapsI know this because one of the cars had complete V-Box data-logging.

Rolling from the pits, I squeezed down on the power and felt those ponies kick in. The black shifter knob fits the theme, but the lever was a touch vague. In contrast, the pedals are placed nicely for heal-toe downshifts, and the brakes have excellent feel and modulation. There is also a nifty gauge package (with a dash-mounted gauge pod on the Laguna) including a 9,000-rpm tach and a 7,500-rpm redline. What’s missing is a shift light to help you keep off the limiter. With such amazing rev ability, there is no indication that the rev limiter is coming because the engine never stops pulling.

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