I’m really impressed with the Roush chassis modifications. The car is well damped and offers a level of (relative) refinement that is better than any other Mustang I’ve driven. As with the Roush 427R we had last week, the cosmetic modifications are a matter of taste but the styling does fit the performance. This Stage 3 had about 1000 or 1200 more miles than the 427R test car and it felt better for it. The shifter was smoother and the engine felt crisper. I like muscle cars and the Roush products have a nice balance of raw fun and, again, relative comfort. For me, I would take a base, no-spoiler GT or a Bullitt Mustang and add the engine, chassis, and brake mods from the Roush Stage 3. That way, I’d get the performance but keep a sleeper look. Actually, I’d probably pay the big bucks and get a built 400-or-so-horsepower, normally aspirated V-8, as I’m not crazy about the over-the-top supercharger whine that dulls the glorious V-8 music. Either way, both the Stage 3 and the 427R Mustangs are huge fun.
Marc Noordeloos, Road Test Editor
I am no pony-car guy, but I did enjoy driving this car. The extremely precise gear shifter was a revelation; it’s ten times better than the stock Mustang shifter and the best part of this overpriced options package. Naturally, there’s lots of tractable power from the supercharged V-8, and the car handles pretty well, but it’s not difficult to upset the live rear axle. I exited I-94 at Oakwood Boulevard on my way to an event in the heart of the Ford Motor Company campus in Dearborn, Michigan, and as I tore away from the stoplight at the end of the exit ramp, the car hit some rough pavement and the rear axle was scrambling for traction and bouncing the car up and down. But that’s part and parcel of the Mustang experience.
Joe DeMatio, Executive Editor
This is my first time in a Roush Mustang, and while I can’t say that I’m a huge fan of the cosmetic enhancements – I tend to like my Mustangs to look like vintage Trans-Am cars: simple, classic, and mean – I’m in love with the way it drives. Roush’s efforts, amounting to little more than suspension tweaks, a heap more power and torque (thank you, Mr. Supercharger), a new exhaust, and a different shift linkage, have absolutely transformed the car. The Hurst-like shifter is hefty, chunky, and rifle-bolt solid (it’s a cliché, I know, but it’s true here), and while it sends shift effort through the roof, it also makes the Mustang feel like the biggest, angriest asphalt snorter this side of a Mack truck. The engine’s yowl is iced over with a nice coating of supercharger whine, which really only rears its head during big throttle openings. Understeer is decreased, the back end is more controllable, and steering feel even gets notched up a bit. Dig it, dig it, dig it.
Sam Smith, Associate Editor