Suspension And Steering
In keeping with the Boss mandate to provide the best-handling Mustang ever, the already strong Mustang GT suspension system has been further refined. Higher-rate coil springs on all four corners, stiffer suspension bushings and a larger-diameter rear stabilizer bar all contribute to the road racing mission, and Boss models are lowered by 11 millimeters at the front and 1 millimeter at the rear versus the Mustang GT. The real key to handling, though, is in the adjustable shocks and struts, standard on all Boss Mustang models.
"We've given drivers five settings for their shocks," says Brent Clark, supervisor of the Mustang vehicle dynamics team. "One is the softest, two is the factory setting and five is the firmest, and we've provided a wide range of adjustment. A customer can drive to the track on setting two, crank it up to five for improved response on the track, then dial down to one for a more relaxed ride home. What's unique is that drivers will find - thanks to the way the suspension works as a complete system - the softest setting isn't too loose and the firmest setting isn't too controlled; each step just provides additional levels of control."
Also unique is the method of shock adjustment. Ditching the weight and complexity of electronic wizardry, the Mustang team opted for traditional race-style hands-on adjustability - similar to the Gabriel shocks available on the original Boss 302.
"The shock adjustment is right at the top of the shock tower, built into the rod and easily accessible from under the hood or inside the trunk," says Clark. "You just take a small flat-head screwdriver, turn the adjustment screw between one and five, and head back out onto the track."
To complement the suspension, the speed-sensitive electronic steering system has been retuned to maximize feedback and road feel to the driver. The driver is also given the option of fine-tuning the steering feel to his liking by selecting one of three settings through the instrument cluster menu: Comfort, normal and sport modes help offer track-tuned steering when desired without sacrificing low-speed maneuverability in parking situations and everyday commuting.
Similarly, Boss receives unique traction control system (TCS) and electronic stability control (ESC) settings to help drivers achieve maximum performance whether on the street or at the track. Both systems can be completely disabled in controlled track situations where maximum driver skill is utilized, or fully engaged for maximum safety during normal driving or in less-than-ideal traction conditions. Intermediate sport mode allows drivers to push their cars hard at the track without completely disabling the safety systems, permitting more aggressive driving before the TCS and ESC systems intervene.
Brakes, Wheels And Tires
Working in concert with the suspension upgrades, Boss 302 receives unique, lightweight 19-inch black alloy racing wheels in staggered widths: 9 inches in front, 9.5 inches in the rear. The Pirelli PZero summer tires are sized specifically for each end of the vehicle, with the front wheels receiving 255/40ZR-19 tires while the rear stays planted thanks to 285/35ZR-19 rubber.
The combined suspension and tire package allows Boss to achieve a top speed of 155 mph and become the first non-SVT Mustang ever to achieve more than 1.0 g of lateral acceleration.
Boss braking is also up to the challenge, using Brembo four-piston front calipers acting on 14-inch vented rotors up front. In the back, standard Mustang GT brakes are upgraded with a Boss-specific high-performance pad compound. Combined with vented brake shields and unique Anti-Lock Brake System (ABS) tuning, Boss drivers get maximum control and rapid, repeatable fade-free stops in road and race situations alike.
The Mustang team spent considerable time ensuring the brake pedal feel met the expectations of performance drivers. Boss receives unique low-compressibility brake lines that expand up to 30 percent less than traditional flexible brake lines, allowing maximum fluid pressure to reach the calipers in the least amount of time, giving the driver a sensation of being connected directly to the brake pads.
"This car is wicked fast, so we put a lot of emphasis on giving it comparable stopping power," says Clark. "We started with a race-proven brake system and tuned it specifically for the characteristics of the Boss 302 and its mission. They're the best brakes ever installed on a Mustang, and they give consistent, repeatable braking performance on the street and the track."
As a result 60-0 stopping distances for the Boss are improved by approximately three feet versus the Mustang GT with available brake package; combined with suspension and engine improvements, Boss is expected to show approximately a two-second lap time improvement over the GT on a typical road race course. But the numbers tell only part of the story.
"We achieved measurable improvements over GT, which was already one of the best-braking cars we've ever designed," explains Clark, "but what's harder to quantify is how good these brakes feel to a driver in a race situation. Like everything on this car, the brakes are more than the sum of their parts: They're tuned from pad to pedal to work perfectly as a system, and the difference is dramatic."
Exterior And Interior Design
Changes to the Mustang Boss exterior are subtle but unmistakable. True to its race-bred heritage, every component that could potentially aid aerodynamics or engine/brake performance was examined to make the vehicle more competitive, while chief designer Darrell Behmer refined the styling to evoke the 1969 Boss in a contemporary way.
"We approached this as curators of a legend," explains Behmer. "We've taken design cues from the '69 Boss street car and the menacing Bud Moore/Parnelli Jones race cars and carefully updated them to give the 2012 the proper bad-boy attitude that is unmistakably a Boss Mustang."
To set Boss apart, each car will have either a black or white roof panel, coordinated to the color of the side C-stripe. Available exterior colors are Competition Orange, Performance White, Kona Blue Metallic, Yellow Blaze Tri-Coat Metallic and Race Red.
Up front, a unique fascia and grille are highlighted by the blocked-off fog lamp openings and aggressive lower splitter, a version of the design used - and proven - on the Boss 302R race car. The front splitter is designed to function at high speeds by efficiently managing the air under and around the car. It helps to reduce underbody drag and front end lift while more effectively forcing air through the Boss-specific cooling system. At the rear of the car, the spoiler was chosen to complement the front aero treatment and minimize overall drag.
"What we were after on Boss was reduced overall lift with improved balance," says Pericak. "We needed to keep the car glued to the street or the track at high speeds without increasing drag or affecting top speed and fuel usage. The end result is an aero package that uses front, rear and underbody treatments not for show, but for effect - the balance and stability of this car all the way to its 155-mph top speed is just outstanding."
Inside, a unique Boss steering wheel covered completely in Alcantara suede complements the standard seats, which are trimmed in cloth with a suede-like center insert to firmly hold occupants in place. Boss customers who want the ultimate seating experience can select a package that includes Recaro buckets, designed by Ford SVT in cooperation with Recaro for high performance Mustang models, and shared between the Boss and GT500.
A dark metallic instrument panel finish, gauge cluster and door panel trim also differentiate Boss from the standard Mustang, while a black pool-cue shifter ball and "Powered by Ford" door sill plates further remind customers they're in a special car.
The Boss interior gets an aural kick thanks to what's been removed. Eleven pounds of sound-deadening material have been eliminated to let occupants further enjoy the intake, engine and exhaust note.
"Boss is a hallowed word around here, and we couldn't put that name on a new Mustang until we were sure everything was in place to make this car a worthy successor," explains Pericak "We were either going to do it right or not do it at all - no one on the team was going to let Boss become a sticker and wheel package.