Even without Shelby American’s tune, the GT500 is a Ford Mustang with supercar levels of performance. However, though its classic ancestor is slower, it does have something the modern Shelby GT500 lacks—a manual. But, if you want that kind of power with a stick, there’s always the Roush Stage 3 Mustang.
2020 Roush Stage 3 Mustang: specs and features
Roush offers its tuned Mustangs in several ‘Stages,’ Car and Driver reports, based on the GT model. The Stage 2 Roush Mustang takes the GT’s 5.0-liter V8 and adds a supercharger and cold-air intake, Road & Track reports. So instead of 460 hp and 420 lb-ft, it makes 750 hp and 670 lb-ft.
That’s 10 hp less than the Shelby GT500’s 5.2-liter supercharged V8 makes, R&T reports. However, the Roush Stage 3 Mustang, which comes with the Stage 2 supercharger kit, has 45 more lb-ft. And while the Shelby GT500 is automatic-only, you can order the Stage 3 with a 6-speed manual.
Some of the Roush Stage 3 Mustang’s features carry over from the Stage 2, Automobile reports. These include recalibrating the Mustang’s magnetic dampers, a functional front splitter, new wheels, and Continental ExtremeContact Sport tires. But unlike the Stage 2, the Stage 3 has extra cooling. That’s courtesy of a larger radiator as well as coolers for the transmission and differential.
The Roush Stage 3 Mustang’s other performance features are bundled in several optional packages. Ford’s Performance Package gives the GT Brembo brakes. But Roush offers additional Brembo upgrades to the front pads and rotors. Also, each Stage 3 Mustang comes with a black quad-tip performance exhaust. That can be further augmented with a customizable active exhaust, as well as X- or H-arranged pipes. A functional carbon-fiber wing is also an optional extra.
The Roush Stage 3 Mustang’s interior has a few upgrades as well. Bolstered leather sport seats are standard, as is a new gauge cluster overlay and boost gauge. Automatic models get aluminum shift paddles, while manual ones get a red or a white shift knob. Optional features include quilted leather seats, billet pedals, and a racing steering wheel.
How does the Roush Stage 3 Mustang drive?
Steering-wise, the Roush Stage 3 Mustang isn’t quite up to the Shelby GT500’s level, R&T reports. It’s accurate and quick but doesn’t have quite the same amount of feel.
Also, the standard GT doesn’t offer the GT500’s dual-clutch automatic. Instead, it has a torque converter. And while it does have traction control, it’s unchanged from stock, and the Shelby’s is more sophisticated. As a result, an automatic-equipped Roush Stage 3 Mustang isn’t quite as fun to drive as an actual Shelby GT500.
However, the rest of the Stage 3 build impresses. The brakes don’t fade, even after extended track runs, and they’re easy to modulate. The engine’s power delivery is similarly progressive. And while it’s not quite as sharp as the Shelby, the Roush Stage 3 Mustang is still a well-balanced sports car.
Then there’s the manual transmission. For one, it’s not overwhelmed by the added horsepower and torque. And because you have to be smooth with the throttle and clutch to manage the Stage 3, it arguably helps with driving habits.
Pricing and the competition
The Roush Stage 3 kit can be installed on any new Ford Mustang GT, including the convertible model, Car and Driver reports. It’s ordered through Roush-affiliated Ford dealers, and it comes with a 5-year/60,000-mile warranty.
The kit itself starts at $24,995; for a coupe GT with the Performance Package, that works out to about $67,000. That’s about $6000 cheaper than the Shelby GT500, which has a few additional performance features. But again, no manual.
But if you want a manual-equipped muscle car for the track, there’s also the Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE. Its 6.2-liter supercharged V8 ‘only’ makes 650 hp and 650 lb-ft. But Car and Driver found it performed better on-track than the GT500. And with the 6-speed manual, it’s only $6000 more than the Roush Stage 3 Mustang.
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