By Zack Klapman.
The American sports car market has improved an impressive amount in the last decade. The Corvette has been a strong performer since the C5, but until the new Mustang GT and Boss 302 came out (and Camaro Zl1, and 1LE), the earlier models of these cars of said cars meant making significant compromises, and they were really in a category of their own.
The Corvette was the highest caliber, but the seats held you like a bar stool, and the plastic was drab. There was cheapness to it that no motor could outrun. The Mustang and Camaro were fun and noisy, but with these new cars, their capabilities and overall feel are so good, they are being compared to the almighty BMW M3. I mean full-on lap time shootouts with photo finishes.
Today, in terms of ride quality, handling, and overall driver feel, the Mustang Boss 302 does a dead-on impression of the M3 (well done, Ford). And similar kudos to GM; The C7 Corvette has zero compromises. The interior is correct for the Vette’s 1.1g of cornering and 460HP; before it was more appropriate for a decrepit Kia. From the overall look to the button feel to the digital gauges, this is a proper sports car through and through.
When OEMs are making products this good, why step out into the questionable land of the aftermarket? That’s the question you have to ask yourself when you drive the Roush S3.
2014 Ford Roush Mustang S3 – Pieces of Flair
The Roush S3 is a supercharged, dressed-up Mustang GT with an M3’s price tag. It starts at $50,000, which gets you the TVS2300 supercharger and the resulting 565HP/505ft-lbs of torque, but my tester cost $68,000. Why? I really don’t know, to be honest. Some of the money went to the sticky square-stanced wheels and the excellent shocks. But it also went to the 9 “ROUSH” badges, the fake hood scoop and window louvers, and the upgraded-yet-insufficient brakes. And it went to the seats, which are far worse than the stock Recaros.
As a sports car, the S3 feels a little heavy, but as a GT car, it’s good, better than stock. The suspension earned applause on my 1000-mile trip for its composure and compliance. This is a muscle car for the gentleman; Light steering, a beautifully barbaric exhaust note, and fast. 565HP (which I think is the ceiling for this chassis) throws the car way down field with the infinite push of gravity itself; your foot will probably blink before the acceleration does.
But still, I look at the ROUSH signatures, and the pointless stuck-on scoop, I crack my back, and squint at the glaring boost gauge and I wonder, “What would I buy for $68,000?”
2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray – The Vette you always wanted
This. I would buy this car: A 2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray, with the Z51 package, magnetic ride control shocks, aero kit (it’s functional, and sends air to parts of the car!), targa top, and the carbon fiber trim. This is a great car.
The 460HP LT1 V8 bellowed through the optional sport exhaust, announcing my intentions to pillage the road. Deaf motorists were alerted by the striking Laguna Blue paint. The steering had the right amount of weight and told me what the tires were thinking, the seats held me in place, and the cabin suited the performance and the price point.
All the options on my tester added up to $70,000, but you can get an amazing one (only the Z51 and MRC, totaling $4,000) for about $54,000 and die a happy person. The shocks are magic, we know this, but the Z51 package is like finding 4-for-the-price-of-1 comprehensive health insurance; dry-sump oil system, larger wheels, slotted brake rotors, an aero kit, and GM’s new E-Diff, which makes your driving look as perfect as Tanner Faust’s.
Whether you spend the extra money or not, the C7 is the best Corvette ever. It has left the word “compromise” in the dust; on it’s way to a 12-second ¼ mile. On theRoush S3014 Ford Roush Mustang S3 wears that word on the little bit of empty real estate it has. The performance is good, but I can’t figure out where all the money went. If you want a super Mustang, just put the blower on a Boss. But if you want the best car you can get for the money, get the Corvette.