As it prepares to be distributed out to the company’s extensive dealer network both domestically and internationally, Ford’s Mustang has been making the rounds at the various tuning houses that make their living by turning a great car into an arguably better one.
Since the last fully redesigned Mustang was released nearly ten years ago (though it recieved a substantial refresh in 2010), these companies have been salivating for the 2015 model year Mustang, which promises to be the best-handling, and perhaps all around best-driving Mustang yet. It’s all new from the ground up, and engineered for a new global audience; this means new engine options, different suspension setup, and a more sports car-like demeanor.
Tuners will have a pretty sturdy foundation to work from, too. The new Mustang produces a minimum of 300 horsepower (that’s the 3.7 liter V6 engine that comes standard), and goes up from there. The new 2.3 liter turbocharged, EcoBoost-branded Mustang manages 310 horsepower (which is paired with 320 pound-feet of twist), and the range is topped off with Ford’s beloved and ubiquitous 5.0 liter V8, which now produces 435 horsepower and 400 pound-feet, up from 420 in the previous generation.
As they say, where there’s smoke, there’s fire. Over the last few weeks, three of the most prolific American tuners have smelled the smoke and have gone in search of the blaze on the belief that no matter how good a car is, it can always be better.
Having built its reputation on race-ready Mustangs, Saleen (OTC:SLNN) has offered its latest take on the new Mustang, albeit through renders only. However, the car — known as the S302 — is available with as much as 640 horsepower, and a quick glance at the illustrations imply that nearly every inch of the car has been gone over.
The S302 rides lower (and on new rims), boasts an aggressive and mean-looking body kit that — pending official testing — presumably helps improve airflow and keep the car more grounded. There’s a signature Saleen spoiler mounted on the rear deck lid, a new sway bar, and suspension bushings have been put in to help the car stay rigid through the turns.
Under the hood is none other than Ford’s 5.0 liter V8, and in its most basic Saleen form, is tuned for 450 horsepower (15 horses more than the stock Mustang). Mosey on up to Saleen’s menu and you can have the S302 Black Label with 640 horsepower and 565 pound-feet of torque, adding roughly the equivalent of a Volkswagen GTI’s worth of power to the already potent Mustang GT. This is done with Saleen’s proprietary supercharger, which is available on the Black Label and the middle-ground Yellow Label, which shares its power specs with the range-topping Black, but lacks such features like a static brake cooling system and that aggressive front fascia.
“This is a very exciting time for the Mustang community as this is the first all-new model since 2005,” CEO, founder, and namesake Steve Saleen said in the company’s press release.
In a world where one can buy 707 horsepower for under $70,000, the Saleen S302’s 640 horsepower may not be enough for the discerning Mustang performance enthusiast. For people like them, tuning firm Hennessey — renowned for its Venom GT hyper-car — has the answer. An answer, anyways.
Hennessey ups the ante with as much as 717 horsepower on tap, outpacing the Saleen as far as sheer horsepower is concerned and even blowing by the 2014 Shelby GT500, which comes from Ford’s factory with a resounding 662 horsepower on tap. Hennessey’s model — titled the HPE700 — is paired with 632 pound-feet of torque, and the company surmises that zero-60 will be dealt with in a scant 3.6 seconds.
New carbon fiber aerodynamic components all around give the HPE700 a far more aggressive and track-ready look (it also actually helps with downforce, too), and the exhaust has been swapped out for a higher performance setup to help vent out the extra air moved through Hennessey’s 2.9 liter Supercharger addition.
If 717 horsepower feels to ambitious and 600 horsepower is more up your alley, then Hennessey offers an option there, too, with the HPE600, which offers many of the same amenities but with 620 horsepower under the hood instead. It might be friendlier on your wallet, too, and in real-world driving, it’s not likely that you’ll find yourself lacking.
Like the OEMs themselves, aftermarket tuners each boast its respective base of fans and enthusiasts who prefer one package over the others. Sporting one of the larger fan bases in the industry (when it comes to Mustangs, at least) is Roush, which as also revealed its contender that will compete for your aftermarket pony car dollars.
Unfortunately, the Roush kits are only skin-deep for the time being. We do know that there will be three kits available for the 2015 model year Mustang, and unlike Saleen and Hennessey, they include the smaller, lower displacement engines among the options. The Mustang RS starts at just under $5,000 (in addition to the cost of the car, naturally) and is based on the 300 horsepower 3.7 liter V6. The Stage 1 model is based on the 2.3 liter EcoBoost, and the Stage 2 is based on the V8. While no power upgrades have yet been announced, Roush is easing the floodgates open with some new body work and tinkering elsewhere on the car.
Buyers are treated to Roush’s muscular bodykit, which eschews the more sleek appearance of the new Mustang for a brash, no-apologies approach to design. There’s a quad-tipped exhaust protruding from the back of each model, and improved rims and suspension are optional across the board.
Styling-wise, there’s the meaty front fascia up front, a new aero valence in the back, and many vents and scoops that imply that the Roush Mustang has more to come in the near future. But as far as solid performance numbers, we’ll have to wait and see how it stacks up, though it’s worth mentioning that the current Stage 3 Mustang from Roush achieves 575 horsepower — so expect it to exceed that.