I finally had an opportunity to spend some quality time in a new "Gotta Have It Green" 2013 Boss 302 last week and the experience was worth a few lines here. With only 2800 miles on the clock, I felt safe that the car was in prime condition to show me what it was made of and my personal evaluation would be honest . The adventure started at the local car cruise where the screamin-green paint attracts gawkers like moths to a flame. For three solid hours, the car was never without at least 3 admirers ranging in age from 4 to about 90. Apparently it has a presence, and means something different to each person. People "get" this car, without a doubt.
First impression: What a huge disparity in interior quality compared to the visual “pop” of the exterior. Looks like Ford regressed 10 years on interior design and materials. Speedo is hard to read, tach is a little lazy and driver offset toward the middle of the car seems excessive (e.g., I never felt properly “centered” behind the wheel). The surfaces are very cheap and "plast-icky" with dime-store fake machine-turned silver inserts across the panel. I am not sure I will ever understand what happened here.
Second Impression: Once on the road, I couldn’t care less about the interior. The car impresses in just about all areas. Engine is no neck-breaker, but a nice balance to the car. Surprisingly smooth power with glorious exhaust notes north of 7k rpm (right up to the 7500rpm fuel-cut in fact). I think I would lose the side exhaust plates permanently………pass-by noise regulations and bitching passengers can get stuffed. Don’t like it?: That’s what public transportation is for.
The Recaro seats are a bit too snug in the bolsters for long-term driving, but otherwise work well. Truth is, I could have been sitting on a banana box and not cared one bit. The car is pretty impressive and a pant load of fun to drive. The benefits of the substantially reduced weight over other market competitors is undeniable.
The rear axle was the low-point of the driving experience. Howled like a banshee in heat. How that got past the quality rolls at the plant is hard to understand, but it eventually grabs your attention so much it starts to take away from the driving experience. This is especially noticeable at 75-80mph cruise.
I absolutely HATED the cross-gate spacing in the shifter! Fore-aft throw was fantastic, but cross-gate detents and shifter positioning through the neutral gate sucked. I sure hope this hasn’t become the gold-standard reference for anything with a 6-speed. Talk about a Heaven and Hell experience all in one. Misery.
Back to the engine. The track key function is entertaining. Cool in fact, and evokes rather ungentlemanly advances toward the throttle that few cars would tolerate........if you know what I mean. The slightly lumpy idle once it’s up to temp is apparently a clever bit of split-phasing camshaft trickery I would find myself constantly entertained with. It’s the coolest “retro” feature of any modern muscle car I have experienced.
The handling and braking of this car is spectacular and in every way worthy of the Boss moniker. There is an amazing amount of mechanical grip in the car that is easy to modulate and gather up if you get too excited. The brakes are equally impressive and put the whoa-down with absolute authority. The balance between handling and braking is as good as anything this platform has ever seen and to say it is competitive to other market products would border on understatement. And while I have never been a huge fan of Pirelli tires, the P Zero shoes on this one seemed a perfect match to the car. The car is incredibly easy to acclimate to and could easily be a daily driver in my book. I would love to see the difference the Laguna Seca option brings to the table.
So, in short, I hate this car. After the driving experience in the Boss, I was condemned to slide behind the wheel of my crapped-out daily driver and suddenly felt I was on my way to a trailer park resort instead of the nice suburban home where I currently get my mail. As depression set in, I realize I could own this car………rough edges and all. But a $44k price tag before ransom would keep it out of consideration for a while yet.
Note to Ford: What the hell is the “white” key for? (BIG evil grin).