For the autocross, Steeda shipped us a set of its Ultra-lite 18x9.5 wheels wrapped in Nitto's NTO1 autocross rubber. These were a slightly stickier compound than the Nitto 555RII tires that were on the car at Sebring. We expected the NTO1s would up the ante in the autocross stakes, and that was important given the fact that the autocross is put on by the Florida Corvette Racing Club. That's right, we dropped the Q500 right in with a frenzy of Corvette guys, and while we were giving up some 400-500 pounds in weight to the svelte sports cars, we were packing 500 hp and 490 lb-ft of torque.
Craig Ellis was in the same run group as we were, and his C6 Z06 was set up for maximum attack wearing Hoosier rubber. His first run of 0:37.897 seconds set the bar for the run group. Our first effort of 0:41.335 seconds offered promise, but we had our work cut out for us with eight other Corvettes and 17 other competitors of different makes and models.
We whittled down our time consistently, recording a 0:41.675, 0:40.961, and a 0:40.09. Then we ditched our passenger and clocked a 0:39.836 and a 0:39.949. Ellis, meanwhile was knocking down a 0:38.302, 0:38.077 and eventually a best of 0:37.873. By the end of the day, we were able to slice through the cones in 0:39.302 seconds, and even got down to a high 0:39-second time with a passenger. With two people aboard, the Q500 had to weigh in close to 3,900 pounds, if not a bit over that. Not exactly lightweight, but at least the car was balanced.
Speaking of balance, we found the Q500 to be quite neutral in handling, and it responded quickly to small changes in tire pressure. Have a little understeer? Lower the front tire pressure. Is the tail hanging out? Lower the rear pressure. It was quite simple and easy to tune the car for your driving style just by removing or adding 2-3 psi of air. The less you have to work on a car at a track event, the more fun you'll have, and we had a blast. The Corvette guys, probably not so much since the bright red Q500 was trouncing nearly everything in attendance. Out of 27 cars, including nine Corvettes, the Q500 placed Second for the day.
It costs money to go fast, and the Q500 requires its fair share of George Washington's to perform as well as it does. Since our tester was a development mule, it didn't have a window sticker, but Steeda tells us a similarly equipped Q500 retails for about $50,000, or about $19,000 if you bring your Mustang GT to Steeda Autosports for a Q500 makeover.
The cost of speed was felt at the pump, too, as the on-board computer told us we were averaging just 17 mpg, and we verified that with our own calculations coming up with 17.45 mpg on one tank. We even saw 15.25 mpg on another tank, but truthfully, the right pedal is extremely addictive so practice some self-restraint and the numbers should improve.
For the money, you simply can't ignore the Q500 as a performance-per-dollar bargain. The great thing with Steeda is that you can take your stock Mustang GT and build a Q500 as funds permit, so you don't have to crack that big nut all at once like the Vette guys do. The Whipple supercharger upgrade alone will get you halfway there, but if you want to make all of that power work for you, then you'll need the rest of the mods. In the end, it's the complete package that rocks the competition.