Boasting more power than the Mustang GT and just less than the Shelby GT500 is the 2012 Ford Mustang Boss 302: a street-legal, track-ready ride for the muscle car set.
If we're not mistaken, the Boss is the most powerful 'Stang you can buy today that wears the pony badge. Stepping up to the GT500 swaps it out with the Cobra ornamentation.
The original Boss 302 gets its name from the 4.9-liter (302 cubic inch) V-8 that breathed beneath its hood. The 2012 Boss is packing a modified version of the automaker's 5.0-liter engine, so Ford's marketing department is taking some liberties with the "302" designation.
Output is rated at 444 horsepower, which is 32 ponies more than the GT model. This is thanks to a modified intake system and a novel exhaust setup.
You'll only see two exhaust tips here exiting at the rear bumper, but the Boss 302 actually has four. A second set of smaller exhausts are hidden just in front of the rear wheels, which help generate the 302's signature exhaust note.
Power flows through a single-option, six-speed manual transmission before exiting at the rear axle.
The shifter features an extremely short lateral throw and seems to be set up to guide the driver from first to fourth during causal around-town driving.
Toss the Boss around a corner and you'll understand why we like to think of this as a sports car for the muscle car set. Handling is extremely neutral with plentiful grip. Few 400-plus-horsepower cars feel this planted at speed.
19-inch wheels are standard, as are Brembo sport brakes. Those brakes seemed to be the Boss 302's Achilles' Heel and didn't slow the heavy car down as quickly as we'd have liked.
The sole option available to our Boss 302 is a sport seat package that adds deeply bucketed Recaro seats. Despite offering a good deal of lateral bolstering, the Recaros were wide enough to be relatively comfortable for extended drives.
Of course, the sport seats feature embroidered "Boss 302" logos--just in case you forget what you're driving.
The sport seat option also includes a helical limited-slip differential that no doubt contributed to the Boss' fantastic handling.
The rest of the Boss 302's interior is an exercise in cabin tech minimalism.
You won't find any navigation options or fancy iPod cables on the Boss 302's spec sheet. In fact, you won't find any tech options beyond the extremely basic standard package.
I'm frankly surprised that Ford didn't yank the cruise control system, but it's still there and accessible via steering-wheel buttons.
Were it not for the standard CD player, the 2012 Boss 302's audio system would be right at home in a 1969 Boss' dashboard. AM/FM radio, the aforementioned CD player, and an auxiliary input are your only audio sources. There are no standard Bluetooth or USB connections. There aren't even options for those features.
But with its engine singing in the key of V-8 through the quad-exhaust system, I was able to forgive the Boss 302's tech omissions. She's no tech car, but that doesn't mean the Boss 302 isn't a seriously fun car.