Donald Farr
Former Editor, Mustang Monthly
November 15, 2010
Photos By: Courtesy Ford Media

The Boss camshafts are also revised with a more aggressive grind and feature twin independent variable timing to provide maximum high-rpm horsepower without sacrificing low-rpm torque, a frequent complaint about the '69-'70 Boss 302. Valvetrain components have been lightened for improved dynamics at high engine speeds.

With its 7,500-rpm redline, the new Boss 302 takes a cue from its earlier namesake with strengthened short-block components. In addition to race-spec crankshaft bearings, the bottom end is fitted with forged aluminum pistons and sinter-forged connecting rods. Revised oil pan baffling improves oil control during cornering loads.

The 440 horsepower-the most ever from a naturally-aspirated production Ford engine-is delivered through a six-speed manual transmission, with a short-throw shifter, to a 3.73 rear axle with carbon-fiber plates in the limited-slip differential. A torque-sensing Torsen limited-slip differential is available as an option, coupled with Recaro seats.

With a mandate to produce the best handling Mustang ever, Boss engineers refined the Mustang GT suspension with higher rate springs, stiffer bushings, larger rear stabilizer bar, and a slightly lower stance. The real key to handling, however, is the adjustable struts and shocks with five settings. Instead of relying on electronics, the engineers have made the adjustment manual, with easy accessibility under the hood and inside the trunk. A small flat-head screwdriver is all that's needed to make adjustments from setting One for the softest position to setting Five for improved track response.

Working with the suspension are Pirelli PZero tires, 255/40ZR-19 on the front and wider 285/35ZR-19s on the rear. Unique lightweight wheels are also staggered with 9-inch rims on the front and 91/2-inch versions at the rear. According to Ford, the combination of suspension package and tires makes the '12 Boss 302 the first non-SVT Mustang to achieve over 1.0g of lateral acceleration.

On the Boss 302, the speed-sensitive electronic steering has been retuned to maximize road feel for the driver and includes fine-tuning via the instrument cluster menu for comfort, normal, and sport modes. The Boss also gets a unique traction control system and electronic stability control. Both can be completely disabled for maximum performance driving.

For braking, the Boss 302 comes with Brembo four-piston front calipers and 14-inch vented rotors up front, while standard Mustang GT rear brakes are upgraded with Boss-specific pads. To address brake pedal feel, low-compressibility brakes lines are utilized.

Perhaps the most unique aspect of the '12 Boss 302 is its quad exhaust system. Two outlets exit at the rear, similar to the Mustang GT, while another pair of outlets exit to either side of the crossover to send exhaust through a set of metal attenuation discs that act as tuning elements before the pipes terminate in front of the rear wheel openings. Visually subtle, the side pipes flow very little exhaust but add to the sonic experience-described by one source as "quadraphonic." The discs are removable and engineers even made sure they were sized so owners could add aftermarket dump valves. "If an owner wants to add a set of electric valves, they can just undo two bolts on either side to remove the discs and spacer," explains Mustang NHV engineer Shawn Carney. "Then the dump valves can slide right in."

Due to the side exit exhaust and a retuned sound tube in the induction system, the new Boss 302 has an exhaust note all its own.

Exterior and Interior
"We approached this as curators of a legend," said chief designer Darrell Behmer when talking about the new Boss 302's exterior graphics. "Taking cues from the '69 Boss street car and the Bud Moore race cars, we updated them to give the '12 model the proper bad-boy attitude that is unmistakably a Boss Mustang."