First Drive: 2012 Ford Mustang Boss 302 and Laguna Seca

The changes to the 5.0-liter V-8 are exactly what you'd expect from a Boss -- lots and lots of revs. Forged pistons and significant improvements to breathing move the power peak up in the rev range to a shocking 7500 rpm, right as the limiter kicks in. Few cross-plane V-8s rev this high, and few produce the acoustic fury that comes from the 302. With two additional exhaust outlets (one per side, just in front of the rear wheels), the brutal Mustang music takes on an even more staccato wail, and the additional revs help produce a primal scream unlike anything else on the road. The engine's peak torque is down 10 lb-ft, but you'd never notice it while driving -- there's plenty of thrust everywhere in the rev range. Shorter, 3.73:1 gears in the limited slip differential (optional on other Mustangs) help this V-8 make minced meat out of the first few ratios. Putting the power down is no problem, and you'll row through first, second, and third so quickly you won't have time to notice that you're already at 90 mph. Sorry, officer.

The Boss' ride over broken pavement is impressive, and the Mustang's long wheelbase helps eliminate any of the choppiness you'd expect from a firm ride. The upgraded, 14-inch front brakes (taken from the Shelby GT500) were easily overheated at Laguna Seca (a track notorious for killing brakes), but will likely survive less abusive tracks and aggressive back-roads blasts.

The Laguna Seca edition of the Boss 302 ditches the back seats in favor of a visible cross-brace for added chassis stiffness. It also features a slightly larger (26 mm instead of 25 mm) rear anti-roll bar, stiffer rear springs, a Torsen limited-slip differential and R-compound Pirelli Corsa tires mounted on rear wheels that are an inch wider than the standard Boss 302's. Result: an even crisper, better-balanced Boss that's even easier to control at the limit. We love it, but we're not sure the extra $6995 is worth the increased performance and drop in practicality unless this Boss winds up being a track-day toy.

You forgot to include the massive dealer markup in your pricing
Nice. Now, if they would only get rid of those god-awful paint schemes. I know that they're trying to be true to the original, but this isn't the 70's for God's sake.
The Boss302 sounds like a very desirable car though I don't know what justifies the additional $10,000 over the Mustang GT. I just bought a 2011 Mustange GT and your description of the suspension as cushy comes as quite a susprise. While the car handles pretty good, the suspension is anything but cushy.

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