The Ford Mustang Boss 302 is essentially a leaner, meaner version of the already-potent Mustang GT. It adds a more powerful V8, an upgraded suspension and a more aggressive and retro-flavored look to create a true sports car that is just as comfortable tearing up the track as it is cruising the strip.
The Mustang Boss 302 takes a standard Mustang GT's 5.0-liter V8 and adds an upgraded intake system and revised engine tuning to crank out 444 horsepower - an impressive jump over the GT's 420 ponies (which is up from 412, thanks to borrowed technology from the Boss).
The Boss 302 also pumps out 380 lb-ft. of torque and is mated exclusively to an upgraded six-speed manual transmission. A 3.73 rear axle uses carbon fiber plates in its limited slip differential to put the increased power to the rear wheels. A Torsen limited slip rear differential is available - coupled with unique Recaro-designed front seats in a special upgrade package.
Having already been thoroughly massaged during its transformation from a Mustang GT into the Mustang Boss 302 and Boss 302 Laguna Seca models for their initial launch, Ford felt no need to make changes to the engine for the minor refresh to these track-ready models, choosing instead to focus on features and paying homage to the car's heritage.
We can think of no better way to pay homage to the original 1970 Boss 302 Trans-Am championship-winning car prepared by Bud Moore and driven by Parnelli Jones than to bring back School Bus Yellow to the color palette - which is exactly what Ford has done for the latest model year.
Other color changes for the Boss/Boss Laguna Seca include new Sterling Gray accents, vintage School Bus Yellow and black paint offerings, hockey stick stripes and a gray interior rear cross-brace. Sterling Gray is also used for the front grille, mirror caps and rear pedestal spoiler, while Laguna Seca rear badging and unique two-tone gray and silver wheels round out the exterior accents.
Interestingly, Ford has chosen not to feature colored accents for the roof for the latest Boss 302.
Aside from color changes, the style was revised to match the rest of the freshed Mustang lineup, with the Boss 302 cars gaining the heat extractors found on the Mustang GT hood, along with the new rear fascia treatment and color-matched rocker panels. The rear fascia differs from the V6 and GT models due to a gloss-black panel between the taillamps, along with a smoked lens housing and special Laguna Seca badging.
Up front, a more aggressive splitter and unique removal foglamp-delete upper grille set the Boss apart from its lesser counterparts. Wheels are also unique to the Boss, coming in two-tone gray and silver and measuring 18 inches in diameter, nine inches wide in the front, 9.5 in the rear.
The intake system has also been re-engineered to provide a throatier growl under hard acceleration, while a unique quad exhaust system made up of two standard Mustang GT outlets and two side pipes that exit on either side of the rear crossover.
The side pipes send the exhaust through a set of metal discs to create an extra growling exhaust sound.
The Boss 302 takes the Mustang GT's standard suspension and adds higher-rate coil springs, stiffer bushings, adjustable shocks and springs and a larger diameter rear stabilizer bar. The body is lowered 11 mm up front and just 1 mm out big to give it a more raked stance designed to recall the original.
The shocks aren't adjustable in the cabin; instead, Ford chose to stick with a simple race-style underhood adjustment built into the shock tower. To adjust the suspension, Ford says that drivers will only need to use a flat head screwdriver.
In addition, Ford modified the electric power steering for enhanced feedback and feel. Unlike other Mustangs, the Boss 302 allows drivers to select one of three steering settings in the instrument cluster menu - Comfort, Normal and Sport.
The standard Mustang traction and stability control programs have been altered with a new intermediate sport mode designed to allow for a little more flexibility on the track.
To go with all of the underbody improvements, Ford selected a set of unique 19-inch black-alloy racing wheels. Staggered at 9 inches wide up front and 9.5 inches out back, the wheels are wrapped in Pirelli P-Zero tires.
Ford says that the tires and suspension upgrades help the Boss 302 achieve more than 1.0 g of lateral acceleration - the first in a non-SVT-modified Mustang.
Those new wheels wrap around 14-inch vented rotors and Brembo calipers up front and upgraded Mustang GT brakes with high performance pads out back. The ABS system has also been modified.
Boss 302s are available in Competition Orange, Performance White, Kona Blue Metallic, Yellow Blaze Tri-Coat Metallic and Race Red, all of which either offer a black or white roof panel coordinated to the C-stripe along the side. For the latest model year School Bus Yellow with Sterling Gray accents has been added for the Boss 302 Laguna Seca as well.
The latest Boss also offers a unique functional design feature in the grille with removable covers where fog lamps would be. For improved cooling on track days, the covers can be easily removed with a screwdriver. A special rear spoiler complements the look but also minimizes drag.
The aero package is almost entirely copied from the Boss 302R race car.
Inside, the Boss 302 gets Alcantara trim on a unique steering wheel, cloth and suede-like standard seats, a dark metallic instrument panel finish and a black pool cue-style shift lever. The aforementioned optional Recaro seats have been lifted from the GT500.
The Boss won't be quite as quiet inside around town thanks to the reduced sound deadening; Ford removed 11 lbs. to reduce weight and to improve the interior aural experience. But if you need to take a call, Ford has added Sync as a standard feature for the latest model year.
The Mustang Boss models are really fairly unique, at least at their price point in the North American market in that there really aren't any direct competitors available in a turn-key form in their class.
Likely the closest competitor would be found in the BMW M3 - which the Boss 302 can lap faster at the track which gave the Laguna Seca its namesake.