Best Mustang Boss Ever

There’s a word that is an integral part of this week’s review that I almost hesitate to use because it’s kind of a sore spot for a lot of us these days: power.

The first thing most of us think of when this word appears is electricity, or more accurately a lack of power due to the weather humbling our usually mighty infrastructure for the second time in just a few months.

But in the case of this week’s review auto, I’m referring to the power under the hood – in fact, the kind of serious muscle that makes one particular coupe a true wheel-spinning pony car with all the best attributes of the breed’s storied past. Better still, there’s a host of modern technology present as well to improve every aspect of the car’s performance.

Ford has had great success with the rebirth of the “retro” Mustang in 2005, where they went back to the car’s original styling cues for inspiration and infused the sports coupe with modern engineering. For the 2012 model year, Ford has brought back a popular model of the Mustang that is not just paying homage in name only. The Limited Edition Boss 302 is not just about nostalgia; it may just be the finest example of the Ford’s famous rear-drive two-door that has ever graced the marketplace.

As with all outstanding performance machines, the Boss 302’s strength doesn’t lie in any one specific area but rather in the quality of the complete package. The centerpiece is (like the original Boss 302) a 5-liter V8, which is of course also 302 cubic inches, hence the famous name. Twin Independent Variable Camshaft Timing boosts horsepower to 440, with an equally robust output of 380 lb.-ft. of torque. The engine is tuned for a flat, smooth power curve with a satisfying top-end thrust, yet even more impressive is the tuning of the exhaust as it delivers a vocal personality that is robust yet never too over-the-top.

A close-ratio six-speed manual is the transmission, and the racing-derived clutch is light and easy to modulate. The car starts with the Mustang GT suspension, which is further reinforced with higher-rate coil springs and adjustable shocks and struts, while overall ride height is lowered by 11 mm. The electronic power steering is not only tuned for feedback, it’s actually adjustable via an instrument cluster menu. Braking technology is supplied by Brembo, and overall the Boss’ acceleration, handling and braking are impressive and beautifully balanced. Power is plentiful, yes. But power without balanced engineering is far less enjoyable, and this coupe is as well-rounded as they come.

The final icing on the cake is the optional Recaro sport seats, which, thanks to the excellent ergonomic support and comfort, make you feel as if you’re a part of the machine rather than just along for the ride. All these elements combine to make (in my opinion) the best overall Mustang ever, as every detail serves to make this is true driver’s car.

The 2012 Ford Mustang Boss 302 is EPA-rated 17 MPG city/26 highway and has a base price of $41,105.