Ford’s Fountain of Youth: Mustang Boss 302

You are a man. You’ve got troubles.

You’ve got a bank account. A mortgage. Maybe a wife and kids. Maybe a girlfriend with future plans and meaningful glances. You’ve got a job. Maybe it’s great. Maybe it sucks.

You worry about money, about the economy, your future, your house, the country, the environment, how crappy music is these days. Your car is payments, insurance, high gas prices, depreciation, speeding tickets. 99 problems? You should be so lucky.

Depress the clutch. Knock the shifter into neutral. One click. Two clicks. Ignition.

Presto: you’re a ten-year old boy.

This is Ford’s idea of the Fountain of Youth – the Mustang Boss 302. It’s a school bus yellow, hockey-striped time machine; a 5.0L, 444 hp, six-speed tube of Oil of Olay. The moment its side exit exhaust pipes bark, you can’t help but be transformed back into a kid standing curbside, holding a Hot Wheels in your grubby fist and watching some brightly coloured muscle car roll past. You’ve dreamed of this moment – now you get to live it.

The cue ball shifter gets slotted into first. You grasp the Alcantara-wrapped steering wheel, drop the windows and settle into the cloth-backed, side-hugging Recaros. Navigation? Touch-screen audio? No sign of such distractions.

The 302 burbles through the neighbourhood, snarling softly like a jungle cat at slow speeds: Bagheera to your Mowgli. Yeah, it’s a big car, but tauter than you’d expect. The track-tuned suspension is jouncier than a regular Mustang, and raked forward aggressively, ready to pounce. You nose it out onto a sweeping on-ramp.

Roll into the throttle, and the Boss’ snarl climbs to a roar like you’re strafing the tarmac in a piston-engine fighter-plane. The machine hunkers down, gripping at the road with 19×9.5” alloys shod in gummy tires. Grab third and you’ll be blitzing into book-’em-Dano territory.

You’re out of the city now, so get off the highway and onto some tree-lined, leafy back road. You can cane it through a curve, sure (this thing’ll pull over a G on the skidpad), but it’s also happy to slither through the corners without anti-social speed. The specs say the Boss will lap Laguna Seca a few tenths ahead of a BMW M3, but who cares? The Teutonic Titan is somewhat humourless, highly technical and charmless.

By comparison, the Boss is a rock star party in a penthouse, shaking tail around tight bends, throttle-steering through the corners, growling away with every rev-matched downshift. Every drive becomes an event.

Consensus: Climb behind the wheel of this utterly fantastic machine and feel like a kid again. It’s not really a car for grownups, but you know what? The mortgage can wait.

This is a test