2012 Roush Mustang RS3 First Drive

2012-Roush-Mustang-RS32012 Roush Mustang RS3

The introduction of the Ford Mustang with the new 5.0-litre V8 has given a new platform to Roush Performance Products on which to apply all its high-performance improvements.

The ultimate Roush Mustang for 2012 is the Stage 3, or RS3 for short. As the name implies, there are also Stages 1 and 2 available, the former being the entry level with mostly trim and styling upgrades, and the latter adding suspension tweaks to the menu. The Stage 3 takes all that and adds a big dose of horsepower to the equation, in a way familiar to fans of Roush cars – with a supercharger.

Starting with the styling enhancements, they include a Roush front fascia, chin and side splitters, rear valance, decklid spoiler, fender badges and windshield banner. There are some new upgrades for the 2012 model year, including the front fascia blackout graphic, rear blackout panel with Jack Roush signature, and Roush “R” faux gas cap badge. Inside, there are embroidered floor mats, and a Roush centre console button.

The Roush Stage 2 suspension system includes specially designed front struts, rear shocks, front and rear springs, front and rear sway bars, and jounce bumper.

But it is the Stage 3 that commands all the attention from enthusiasts. Take all of the above, add the supercharger and numerous other standard or available parts, and you get a very hot performance car.

How hot? The blower bumps power from the stock 5.0′s 412 to a robust 540, with 465 lb.-ft. of torque. We see no mention of any upgrades to the drivetrain behind the engine, so we presume the stock transmission (six-speed manual only) and differential are stout enough to handle the added power.

mdm-1478-2012-ford-roush-mustang_gf_013-1478 Slowing the beast is your choice of three braking systems, starting with the standard Mustang brakes. It would probably be a good thing to add at least the Sport Brake Package (for $1,450, all figures $US), with its four-piston calipers. For those planning on track days in their RS3, there is a Competition Brake Package ($3,687) with six-piston calipers and larger rotors.

Cooper tires are not so well-known in Canada, and indeed, the only time we have seen them on a performance car is on the Roush cars. But the RS3 we drove, with optional 20-inch Cooper RS3 tires on chrome wheels ($1,115 for the package), seemed to handle its race-track duties well with them on, so one should assume that they are capable of holding up their end of the performance recipe. Standard are 18-inch Cooper 2XS tires.

A Competition Suspension system is also available for track-day owners, with double-adjustable coil-over shock absorbers. So, there are at least two levels available for all the running gear at the corners of an RS3, allowing one to truly tailor the car for its intended use.

New on Roush cars for 2012 is the colour options package, allowing for personal customization of three different aesthetic elements of the car: eight choices for the base vehicle colour, six graphic colours, and six graphic accent colours. The result is 288 unique colour combination possibilities. The Roush graphics used on the 2012 RS3 introduce metallic flaking into the automotive paint-grade striping, providing a deeper tone that looks more like custom paint than applied graphics.

mdm-1475-2012-ford-roush-mustang_gf_008-1475 Just announced by Roush is the Stage 3 Hyper Series, which is essentially a set of four limited-edition appearance packages with black body paint as the base, and four unique graphics colours – “Mat It Mango,” “Gas It Green,” “Punch It Purple,” and “Launch It Lemon” – used throughout the car, inside and out.

We weren’t provided Canadian prices, but as a guideline, the U.S. price for a basic RS3, with the supercharger and upgraded suspension, is $16,800 – on top of the Mustang 5.0-litre itself, of course. Check most of the options boxes, and you can easily add about $10K to that.

In our limited time in an RS3, totally on the road course at Mission Raceway Park near Vancouver, we came away impressed with what an integrated package the RS3 is. It would be easy for Roush to just throw a bunch of performance upgrades at a Mustang, but the RS3 combines all the aspects that a performance-oriented customer would want – more power, better handling and braking, unique trim and interior items – and offers them in a refined and engineered package with a 3-year, 36,000-mile powertrain warranty (U.S. figures; your Roush dealer can confirm the Canadian coverage).

So, if you are thinking of a new Mustang 5.0, but want something just a bit different — something with more power — there is the Roush Mustang RS3. The are some 63 Roush dealers in Canada, and you can find one at RoushPerformance.com.