Review: 2020 Ford Mustang Jack Roush Edition Packs 775 HP!
More power than a GT500, more manual-transmission goodness.
The otherwise sensational 2020 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 ditching its stick shift in favor of a dual-clutch automatic is quite the blow on the heels of the new Supra and the new Corvette also going auto-only. What's a fan of manual mega-Mustangs to do? Surely you want something more cohesive and more well thought-out than dropping five figures at your local speed shop.
Luckily, the power-mad engineers at Roush Performance are still pushing out special-edition Stangs with horsepower figures well into the 700s—and show no sign of slowing down any time soon. In fact, the latest package is clocked at a mighty 775 horses and 670 lb-ft of torque, a good 15 hp and 45 lb-ft up from the factory GT500.
It's called the Jack Roush Edition Mustang as a tribute to the man behind the brand. Hand over your Mustang GT to the careful hands at Roush Performance, and the 5.0-liter Coyote V-8 will breathe through a new supercharger, boosting the 460-hp and 420-lb-ft engine by an extra 315 horsepower and 250 lb-ft. Adding all that extra metal under the hood generates additional heat, so a heavy-duty cooling package is standard, including a larger radiator and auxiliary engine cooler. The drivetrain stays nice and chilly as well with a dedicated cooler for the transmission and differential.
As we discovered during our review of the Roush Mustang Stage 3 earlier this year, a gnarly exhaust is a critical part of the Roush experience, and the Jack Roush Edition (JRE) packs a signature active exhaust and H-pipe. Like most modified, high-performance muscle cars, the thunder rumbling from the quad exhaust tips is borderline antisocial, but you do have the power to back up the peacocking.
There are also requisite upgrades for the chassis, starting with a Roush-specific tune for the Mustang's optional MagneRide magnetorheological adaptive suspension. Six-piston Brembo brake calipers clamp down on bigger discs in the front and rear, slowing down Roush wheels wrapped with Continental ExtremeContact Sport tires. Interestingly, there's also an active rear decklid spoiler made from carbon fiber that raises and lowers based on speed and braking.
There's also a whole suite of aesthetic modifications to differentiate this from other Mustangs, as well as other Roush packages. Among other things, the "R9" kit adds an upgraded grille with JRE badge, a more aggressive lower front opening, a chin splitter, vents on the hood and fenders, and a big Roush-branded "blackout panel" on the trunklid. The end result of all this special trim and tinsel is subtle. It's purposeful and menacing without coming off as shouty—like, say, a bright green GT500. This is still a very aggressive-looking car, but in a world of swollen Hellcats and neon-colored Camaros with contrasting black hoods, I'll take the reserved option every time.
Ahead of the JRE's official debut at this year's SEMA show, I joined the Roush team at the Streets of Willow Springs for a track shakedown of its newest hot commodity. As excited as the assembled media and Roush personnel were, tensions were high as it got closer to the start of the first hot lap. "This is almost 800 horsepower," they warned the group. "This is the only one Jack Roush Edition in existence, and it needs to make it to SEMA."
Duly noted. To make it a little easier to stay on the rough Streets tarmac, the team fitted the sole JRE with the optional "Competition Package," a kit that includes Roush/Weld Racing wheels and Continental Extreme Contact DR tires, the latter of which are non-DOT slicks that needed at least one lap to gain temperature.
Really, they shouldn't have been so worried. With the tweaked MagneRide, the JRE was as predictable as a BRZ. Well, maybe not that predictable, but a 775-hp Roush has never felt so controllable. Per the handler's instructions, all traction- and stability-control aids were left engaged, and those systems were a little nosier and more overeager than I'd like, but hey—I'd prefer cut power and nagging brake grab over the calamitous alternative.
In a straight line, the JRE was pure explosion. With this kind of underhood motivation, the sensation of acceleration never, ever drops off; even when you're out of the powerband, you're still riding the front of an avalanche, especially when you give it a little too much boot as you turn on the straight. Some moderate rear-end shimmy, a briefly flashing yellow light, and you approach the first turn at an alarming rate. Lean on the Brembos, cut through the corner with a laughably high amount of grip, and now it's time to do it all over again. All the while, the special dampers ensure your posterior remains unbruised and any beverages in the center console unspilled, and deliver an incredibly composed demeanor even when pitched into Streets' banked "bowl" corner.
I only had three laps on the track, so a full rundown on road manners and day-to-day livability will have to wait for another day, but it's very clear Roush knows how to do big power in a way that avoids the typical shortcomings of other modified cars. Underneath all the Roush glitz, this is still a Mustang GT, and although it's not as cohesive as a factory offering like the GT350, it's something else entirely. If this and the Stage 3 is anything to go by, supercharged Roush Stangs occupy a different, distinct branch of the Mustang tree. Think less harsh, track-hungry weapon and more effortless, ballistic interstate cruiser that's still capable when you find a scenic byway.
If this sounds delightful, get in touch with Roush sooner rather than later: This model is limited to just 60 units in the U.S., plus 10 more for international markets. It'll cost a pretty penny as well. The cheapest 2020 Mustang GT you can nab is $35,000, and that's before you roll it into the shop for conversion. Expect to pay $50,995 for the Jack Roush Edition package and an additional $11,995 for the Competition wheels and tires, so the cheapest JRE will run $86,000—or a good $12,000 more than the basest of base GT500s. That's quite the premium for a manual transmission, so you'll have to ask yourself how dedicated you are to the three-pedal cult. Food for thought while you wait for deliveries to begin next spring.