This Q500 tester was equipped with Steeda's adjustable Watts Link rear suspension.
On The Road
Steeda loaned us the Q500 for a few weeks, and we were able to put on several hundred miles of road testing in addition to our performance testing. This author's commute logs 84 miles per day, so if there were any quirks to be found, there was plenty of opportunities for them to show up.
Ride quality was very comfortable, and we suspect it might even improve if the car was equipped with the standard 18-inch wheel/tire combination, however we must say that the 20-inch combo that came on the car was one of the best riding 20-inch wheel/tire packages we've sampled for an S197 Mustang.
The suspension was noticeably stiffer than stock, but extremely livable for a daily driver. Granted our test was limited to the relatively smooth roads of Florida, though we have sampled other Steeda products on the pothole-infested New Jersey roadways and never found them to be overly stiff.
Behind the wheel, we enjoyed the short-throw Tri-Ax shifter. It has to be one of the best we've tested for the S197 Mustangs. It made powershifting at the track very easy and always nabbed the correct gear. The Exedy Mach 600 clutch is a bit on the stiff side, but if you drive your vehicles like Steeda does, then you want something like the Mach 600, which can handle the powershifts and master the horsepower during a good road course thrashing.
Overall, the Q500 is a blast to drive on the road. There's instant torque available any time you want to feel the surge of acceleration. It's more fun than anyone should be able to have on his/her way to work.
At The Strip
While we had barely possessed the Q500 for 24 hours, we promptly took it to the dragstrip for some quarter-mile mischief. We didn't do anything more than open the hood between runs, and we thought that the mack daddy 20-inch wheel/tire package that we rolled in on might hamper our exploits. Luckily for us the rear 20x11 Cognac three-piece wheels were dressed for the occasion, brandishing Nitto Tire's brand new 305/35/20 555R drag radials.
The Z06 owner that we frequently lined up next to wasn't so lucky in the tire department, as his Goodyear F1s just couldn't plant the power. After a Second-gear burnout, we raised the revs to 3,500 and slipped the clutch at the third amber light. The rear tires chirped a bit and the Q500 picked up and charged hard. A 1.91 60-foot time was not optimal, but not bad for our first hit. The quarter-mile clock delivered a 12.31 at 110.55 mph. On the next run we raised the launch revs to 4,000, but it overpowered the tires and slowed our e.t. Run number Three headed in the right direction with a 1.86 short time and a 12.18 e.t. at 115 mph.
We were on to something now, as we fine-tuned our launch rpm and throttle/clutch release. On run number Four, the first 60 feet disappeared in 1.75 seconds, and the clocked lit up with an 11.97 at 115.53. As for the Z06 guy--well, he never got out of the 12.40s. Thanks to the Nitto 20-inch drag radials, we were able to make good use of the Q500's prodigious amount of torque, and smoke the Z06 every time we lined up against him. Steeda told us that our particular Q500 has gone as fast as 11.81 at 121 mph, but that a shorter tire was used, which would change the torque multiplication and give it better acceleration. If you're going to run the 20-inch wheels full time, you may want to change the rear axle ratio. Still, we went 11.97 with the factory 3.55.
In addition to our dragstrip thrash, we made a few laps in the Q500 around Sebring International Raceway, but we were relatively easy on the car since we hadn't had much time strapped in the Q500's leather cockpit, nor had we logged many hours on the famed Sebring Raceway. We purposely planned this test of the Q500 to coincide with our local autocross so that we could get a good day's worth of time behind the wheel and on a course that we knew rather well.