By Zack Klapman.
The newest Mustang GT and especially the Boss 302 have qualified the Mustang for a new classification: sports car. If you gave a baby a ride in an M3, and then in a Boss, it wouldn’t notice a difference. There’s finesse there.
But if you want something more like BBQing with a flame thrower, you can choose between the 2013 Shelby GT500 and the 2013 Roush Mustang Stage 3. Though made in this decade, everything about the Shelby’s attitude is old-school muscle: huge power and speed, bold presence, intimidation, “small” 285 tires that beg for mercy. The Roush has less power than the 500, so it’s less flamethrower, more very expensive shotgun.
Both cars are supercharged, cause ear damage, and are faster than is socially acceptable. Yet they still feel completely different.
His Shelb-ness. The name is more recognizable then “Kenmore”, and that’s important here, because the re-sale value of high-dollar muscle is important. If Barrett Jackson has their way (I doubt they will), this era of 6-figure nostalgia will continue forever, and if it does, this car, the first Mustang to go 200MPH, this 662HP fireball has a name bidders recognize.
I’d call the exterior showy, but not compared to the Roush. Inside is standard 2013 Ford Mustang -as plain as place as it gets- but everything you use (wheel, shifter, Recaro seats) feel excellent.
Turn the key. A deep grumble from somewhere in front of your feet, and your brain slaps you in the face, “You awake?! You better be, dummy, because 662HP!”
This much power is not a joke, or to be handled carelessly. It’s a Mustang with more power than a McLaren F1. This is the power of professionals, sold to mortals. Dear god. And I’m driving it to Ralphs.
Sideways, I found out. Traction control works as hard as an over-privileged kid working at Burger King. First and second end quickly, but get into third and fourth, stretch the engine, and oh my god this is fast. Porsche Turbo fast. They call the GT2 RS scary, and this has the same power, smaller tires, and a bigger hood to see over. The engine is endless, I only with the brakes and tires were up for it.
Yet, 1,000 miles is done comfortably. Yes it corners at 1.0g but only in the hands of ninjas, which buyer won’t be. Don’t expect an easily tamed supercar. But if I wanted the same loud, obnoxious, power-shake of noise and thrust I got from my muscle car, this delivers. Though it starts at $50k, our Roush S3 had a mod list and price tag the size of a phone book: $68,000. That’s $13,000 more than a base GT500, for 100 less horsepower.
“Terrorist!” I call it smart. 662HP is too much. It is. Have you driven a car that fast? Hit the gas and it’s like everyone behind you hits a force field and stops. On-ramps are dangerous if you don’t pay attention.
565HP is manageable, and will still stop your heart and blow your eardrums. Plenty of pull, none of the terror. I know this will shrink my Internet cod piece, but it’s fast enough.
The ride? More “grand touring” than road racer. Overall it’s very nice to drive, with one major problem: seats. Seats are important. Studies say you spend more time in them than anywhere else in the car. Roush thought the Mustang’s optional Recaros -which are perfect- were no good. So they put in new ones, which are bad. No bolstering, poor lumbar, slanted downward and not roomy enough for people over 6’2”.
Other problems: number of “ROUSH” badges (9), the non-functioning hood scoop and ¾ window covers, both which are glued on, and the (optional) boost gauge that blinds you at night. A fake hood scoop does nothing but hurt your vision. It’s like choosing to walk around with your eyes 10% closed.
Although faster, lighter feeling, and easier to drive, the RS3 doesn’t do anything a modded 2013 Ford Mustang GT can’t do for less money.
The GT500 is an over-built psychopath that laughs in the face of traction. It’s the soul of a tubbed-out Mustang dragster embodying a modern car. It is everything a muscle car used to be-a braggart, power, noise, dangerous- and it made me laugh and drive as if I were the devil’s invincible son.
So if you’re going to spend ~$60,000 to have a possessed soul, you might as well get the cheap one with the big engine, good seats, and the name everyone knows.
(Note: All vehicles provided by manufacturers for comparison test purposes. Photos provided by Ford and Roush.)