For the Global Mustang Week, we took a look at two opposite ponies to understand how the Mustang legacy has evolved in 2021…
On April 17, 1964 with great fanfare Ford released the Mustang, easily one of the most influential cars ever made. Plenty has changed in the 57 years of the existence of the pony car, a fact anyone can see at just a glance. However, the same spirit of accessible performance combined with crowd-pleasing good looks lives on today.
Since this is Global Mustang Week, we thought what better way to assess the current state of the automotive legend than to look at a Roush Stage 3 Mustang fastback to show how the tradition of modifying the pony car lives on. Then we’ll contrast that with the controversial Ford Mustang Mach-E, an all-electric crossover which is starting to win us over – more on that later.
For many, Roush has become a go-to brand for anyone wanting to squeeze more potential out of their Mustang. Although Roush wasn’t modifying pony cars from the early days, the name now seems forever wed to the Mustang.
To help celebrate the 57th anniversary of Ford’s pony car, we reached out to the guys at the largest Roush dealer in the world, Tindol Roush Performance, to grab a Roush Stage 3 Mustang. Lyle Sturgis, the Sales Manager at Tindol Roush, has been with the company for a few decades now, and he is the Roush guy, seriously. Tindol Roush Performance is the only direct dealer of Roush cars you’re going to find – dealing with Jack Roush and the Roush engineers, Lyle is your guy when you want a ‘no bs’ buying experience.
So let’s dive into this beast. With a pulse-pounding 750-horsepower and 670 lb.-ft. of torque, a claimed quarter-mile time of 11.2-second, and the ability to pull 1.07g-plus through a turn, it’s one of the most potent ways to enjoy a new Mustang without voiding your car’s warranty.
Those kinds of figures are a far cry from what the classic Mustangs could pull off, but that’s the wonderful progress of technology. And while we absolutely love the look of a classic Mustang, particularly the fastbacks, the Roush iteration of the S550 keeps some of the retro-inspired details alive. Sure, there’s no pony badge on the grille, but the tri-bar taillights and side profile of the car are undeniably Mustang to even the most casual observer. Front fender and hood vents, a more aggressive Piano Black front fascia, plus the prominent rear spoiler adds a sportier flair to the ride. Throw in the snarling exhaust note and that signature wine of the Roush Phase 2 Supercharger and you’ve got the right symphonic accompaniment to any drive.
It’s also in what isn’t seen or heard which makes the Roush Stage 3 a rightful heir of the Mustang heritage. Roush-calibrated MagneRide suspension balances corner-carving handling with unbelievable comfort. So you can use the car as a daily driver without sacrificing any of the track blistering performance that grabbed your attention in the first place.
Speaking of comfort, the custom leather upholstery and other luxurious details are there to make the ride that much plusher. While Ford tried in some of the early years to turn their focus toward comfort and luxury, it was usually an either/or situation. This nearly perfect mixture of performance, style, and comfort marks another notch in evolution for the Mustang.
We get it: a lot of enthusiasts bristle at the Ford Mustang Mach-E. We certainly have leveled considerable criticism at it since the electric crossover was revealed. Never before has the pony car been anything other than a coupe, fastback, or convertible.
Just get one thing straight about the Mach-E: sure, it can haul your groceries and kids, but it will also haul ass. If you shoot for the top-tier GT Performance Edition, Ford says it targets a 0-60 time of 3.5 seconds with about 480-hp and 634 lb.-ft. of torque on tap. If that’s not enough to get your heart thumping, you probably need to be in the ICU.
As is the case with other electric vehicles, the Mustang Mach-E has a low center of gravity. That’s naturally a good thing for handling. However, in our opinion Ford really hit a home run with handling dynamics, absolutely embarrassing the Tesla’s current lineup. Not only is it competent, it’s downright entertaining to throw around corners. Really, it shouldn’t be surprising that the people who have been designing and building one of the most engaging cars for over 50 years produced perhaps the most fun-to-drive EV out there.
While the taller roofline of the Mach-E is a departure from the more traditional Mustang aesthetic, there are still enough cues to make it part of the family. For one, the pony badge on the nose is a clear signal. Just as notable are the tri-bar taillights and the second pony badge on the liftgate.
For those of us who have kids, dogs, or larger items we need to cart around but also want to drive something exciting, the Mach-E is a good option to consider. It sure beats a minivan or a Subaru Outback, that’s for sure. With a surprising amount of space in the front and rear seats, plus a good-sized rear cargo area as well as the frunk, most families won’t feel squeezed. Plus, you can get all kinds of modern amenities like a panoramic fixed glass roof or a Bang & Olufsen sound system. Ford even includes Phone As A Key technology like what Tesla owners enjoy, a first for the automaker and an excellent way to guard against theft, something which will trickle through the Ford lineup over time. Just dangle that bit of information out to your Mopar enthusiast friends.
It’s no wonder the Mach-E is winning over customers from other car brands, including Tesla. According to Ford, almost 70-percent of the EV’s sales come from people who previous didn’t drive a Ford, so this move is adding strength to the Blue Oval.
Just like how Roush had to start its Ford Mustang legacy years ago and win over enthusiasts, the Mach-E could become an inseparable member of the pony car family in short order. Sure, maybe not everyone will accept it, but then again not everyone is on the Roush bandwagon either. Both are fitting tributes to the legacy which launched on April 17, 1964 in their respective ways.
Motorious would like to extend a big thank you to the Roush experts at Tindol Roush Performance, especially Lyle Sturgis for his time and guidance. They were able to walk us through both cars, and give us the deep-dive on what makes a Roush.