Michael Johnson
Associate Editor, 5.0 Mustangs & Super Fords
September 24, 2012

This is not a kiss-up attempt, but for this author's money, Steeda Autosports is a top-tier specialty Mustang builder. (That's the churched-up way of saying tuner.) All specialty Mustang builders are not created equal. Truthfully, some are better than others. I've driven several specialty Mustang offerings, but one of the first I ever drove was Steeda's Q335 S197 model. The Q335 was Steeda's naturally-aspirated Three-Valve offering, and it was a royal blast to drive. The tune was spot-on, it accelerated like it should, the brakes were amazing, and with the S197 chassis as the canvas, it was a great car.

During my time with the Q335, I had some fun with a C6 Corvette, dusted a New Edge Mustang, and got pulled over... all before 9 a.m. the same morning. Somehow I managed to get out of the ticket, which would've been roughly a 71 in a 60, but I think half the problem was that the Steeda featured Grabber Orange paint. I'm sure the aggressively designed orange Mustang coming in the Florida Highway Patrol trooper's direction stuck out like Jennifer Aniston at Wal-Mart. It stuck out enough, and I guess I was going fast enough to make him do the Magnum P.I. off the shoulder of the highway.

The Q335 was so quiet, so finely tuned, I had no idea how fast I was truly going. Seeing the trooper get sideways in pursuit made me think I was really moving. The S197 chassis combined with Steeda's engineering talents totally had me in a comfort zone where I thought I was being a law-abiding citizen. Not so much, apparently. Fast-forward to Memorial Day 2012. I was once again holding the keys to a Steeda Mustang. In the time between the trooper-magnet Q335 and the Arrest Me Red Q450 staring me in the face, and back at you on these pages, I've driven several Steeda cars, and none of them have made me fall out of love with the Steeda brand. If anything, the Q450 proves my original synopsis was spot on. Nothing has changed at Steeda Autosports.

The newest Q-car, of course, utilizes a '13 Mustang GT as its foundation. As you know, the GT is already a great car right off the Auto Alliance line. However, using the experience as a performance builder, Steeda applied its knowledge to the Q450. The number naturally represents the horsepower the car makes. The '13 GT boasts 420 flywheel horsepower, so reading between the lines, it's reasonable to conclude the Q450's axle-back stainless steel exhaust, cold air intake, and performance engine calibration are to be rewarded with making that number possible. We know mufflers aren't huge contributors, but we've documented the gains possible with Steeda's cold air intake and tune, so we know what built that steam.

Like the engine, the '13 GT's exterior doesn't need much to take styling up a notch. To that end, exterior upgrades are few for the Q450. Most notably is the front lower fascia and front splitter. Your author's never met a splitter he couldn't rip off, so I paid close attention to where I was going while at the wheel of the Q450. At the rear, the trademark rear spoiler looks right at home, as they usually do when designed and put in place by Steeda's engineers. Last, but certainly not least, everyone knows Steeda's graphics package has stayed the same for years now, and the sidewinder door graphic looks as much at home as it ever has.

Speaking of home, driving home from work, or work from home, wherever, will always be a pleasure at the wheel of a Steeda Q450. Steeda doesn't open up the option floodgates on the Q450 unless you want them to. However, standard Q450 fare include the company's Sport springs, aluminum rear lower control arms, front and rear swaybars with billet ends, billet front swaybar mounts, Pro-Action shocks with updated upper strut mounts, and a performance wheel alignment. The standard 18-inch Pentar wheels with NT05 treads are also at home whether at the track or actually driving home.

Designed as Steeda main man Dario Orlando's ideal commuter, the Q450 is a pleasure to drive anywhere. There's nothing to complain about with the Steeda Q450's suspension on the street. Sure, suspension, brake, and rolling stock options abound, which would make the car a track star, but even in standard form the Q450 is probably more capable than what most people would need for a street driven/occasional open-track car. In the end, the 2013 Steeda Q450 has everything one needs in a Mustang. It has a lovely 450hp Coyote engine, a quiet and compliant suspension and braking system, and it looks amazing. Driving the Q450 is like being on a date with a supermodel, which is pretty awesome--then she picks up the dinner check. What else does one need? 5.0

Horse Sense: Steeda Autosports's mantra is "Power means nothing without control." We wholeheartedly agree with that statement. Standard suspension upgrades abound to make sure the Q450 has plenty of control, but just in case you want more, further upgrades are on the option list.

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5.0 Tech Specs

'13 Q450

Engine and Drivetrain
Block Low-pressure-cast, 319 aluminum; pressed-in, thin-wall iron liners
Crankshaft Forged steel, fully counterweighted, induction-hardened
Rods Powdered-metal forging, I-beam
Pistons Cast aluminum
Camshafts DOHC w/ twin independent adjustable cam timing
Cylinder Heads Aluminum, four valves per cylinder
Intake Manifold Stock composite w/ Steeda Autosports cold-air intake
Fuel System Port fuel injection, returnless
Exhaust Stock stainless steel exhaust w/ Steeda axle-back
Transmission Getrag MT-82 six-speed manual, Steeda Tri-Ax shifter
Rearend 8.8-in w/ limited-slip differential

Electronics
Engine management Copperhead w/ Steeda performance engine calibration
Ignition Coil-on plug
Gauges MyColor w/ 4.2-inch LCD productivity screen

Suspension and Chassis
Front Suspension
K-Member Stamped-steel
A-Arms Reverse-L
Struts Steeda w/ Heavy Duty billet upper strut mounts
Springs Steeda Sport
Brakes Steeda 14-in rotor and caliper upgrade
Wheels Steeda Spyder 20-in
Tires Nitto NT05 275/35-20
Rear Suspension
Shocks Steeda
Springs Steeda Sport
Control Arms Steeda billet aluminum rear lower control arms
Brakes Steeda 13-in rear brake upgrade
Wheels Steeda Spyder 20-in
Tires Nitto NT05 315/35-20