At Muscle Mustangs & Fast Fords, the press cars we get for new-car tests usually come and go within a week or so; a time period that flies by all too quickly, especially if everyone in the office gets a shot behind the wheel. Today, however, we bring you the '07 Steeda Q335 Club Racer, a hopped-up horse that we sampled for over a month. We drove it to dinner. We drove it to the grocery store. We commuted in it 84 miles each day. We also took it to the autocross and dragstrip. To say we got some seat time is an understatement.
New-car smell aside, we expected the specialty Stang to be tractable for the average driver, and the Steeda Q335 was every bit of that and more. The real test, however, came from rolling in a Mustang that had been modified for increased handling and performance. Oftentimes, increased handling comes at the cost of ride quality, so we monitored the seat-of-the-pants meter for comfort as well as control.
Steeda Autosports in Pompano Beach, Florida, has been improving on Ford's ponycar for years, so one has to figure that the company would get the combination right, and it has. The Q335 is Steeda's entry-level model, and noticeable improvements have been made in engine output, road-holding and appearance.
Visually, our Grabber Orange tester was a hit with nearly everyone. We received positive reactions from 10-year-olds to 70-year-olds and everyone in between. We liked it too, especially with the Steeda graphic and paint updates, which helped break up the bright color and gave it a more racy nature.
The Sidewinder color-keyed graphics package, front splitter, and rear wing are standard on each Q335, but ours was upgraded with the competition front fascia and rear decklid badge, along with the hood- and rear-valance blackout option. These items joined with Steeda's 18x9.5-inch Ultra-lite wheels that were wrapped with Nitto's new Invo performance tires to set the tone for the Mustang.
Inside, improvements were made to the already great Mustang interior, such as the billet-aluminum shifter knob and door-lock pins, white-faced gauges, and a Steeda ID plate to signify the build number. Beneath the shiny shift knob is a Tri-Ax billet shifter, which tightened up shifting.
Under the hood, Steeda unleashed a few more ponies from the Three-Valve mill, starting with its cold-air induction system, charge-motion intake manifold plates, a 2.5-inch axle-back exhaust, and underdrive pulleys, all of which have been fine-tuned with a custom ECM calibration. These mods are said to generate a 48hp increase over the stock Mustang power output. While the extra horsepower is more than welcome, where this Steeda Mustang really shines is in the turns.
Only minor, tasteful trim...
Only minor, tasteful trim pieces have been added to the S197's cockpit.
In order to improve the S197 platform, Steeda makes a host of modifications beneath the unibody chassis, starting with its Sport coil springs, Pro Action shocks and struts, front and rear antiroll bars, strut tower brace, and G-trac brace. The antiroll bars are fixed to the chassis via Steeda's billet brackets, and out back our Q335 had the optional billet aluminum trailing arms.
While a performance coil spring set can often make ride quality suffer, we found that wasn't the case with the Q335. The ride was tightened but not too stiff, and its compliant nature made for a comfortable commute each day.
This isn't to say the Club Racer doesn't perform as its name implies. We crashed our local autocross event, which is put on by the Florida Corvette Racing Club (FCRC), and drove to some impressive results. Late-model Corvettes have quite the set of long legs, so the club regularly stretches the autocross layout, sometimes using more than a quarter-mile of concrete. In using such an expanse for the course, entrants often see speeds much greater than your average parking-lot, cone-bashing setup.
Beneath the optional billet...
Beneath the optional billet shift knob is Steeda's Tri-Ax shifter. As far as the S197 Mustangs are concerned, this is one of the best on the market, as it provides a more precise feel without transferring excessive drivetrain noise into the cabin.
The Three-Valve 4.6L powerplant...
The Three-Valve 4.6L powerplant has been mildly upgraded to a claimed 350 hp, thanks to numerous engine mods.