Looks can be deceiving.
– Detroit, Michigan
Like me, you probably associate the name Roush with super fast, supercharged Mustangs (or F-150s). Rightfully so – Roush is one of the leading names in Ford tuning. And looking at the pictures here, you’re probably thinking, okay, here’s another V8-powered monster.
This is the Roush RS, the new entry-level car for the brand’s tuning lineup, and it’s got a naturally aspirated V6 under the hood. This car’s biggest selling point is that it starts under $30,000, including the donor car, making it the least expensive Roush product yet. Even as optioned with fancy stripes and little add-ons, this car costs just $31,490. Of course, that puts it right in the heart of the stock Mustang EcoBoost lineup. Are the Roush add-ons worth the sacrifice in power and poise?
- It looks like a fast Mustang, and it sounds like a fast Mustang (sort of – more on that later). One glance at this thing, and there’s no reason to suspect there’s anything but a V8 under the hood. Also, fun fact: The 19-inch dark wheels are standard, and they’re pulled off Performance Pack-equipped Mustang GT donor cars that Roush uses for other models in its range, like the bonkers, 670-hp Stage 3 I drove earlier this year.
- Driving this RS reminds me that every version of the Mustang is a lot of fun. When the sixth-generation Mustang launched, so much attention was focused on the 2.3-liter EcoBoost engine that we kind of forgot about the base V6. This is the first time I’ve driven it in the new car, and I’m remembering why I liked it in the old car. Sure, 305 horsepower isn’t a ton in Mustang terms, but in a broader scope, that’s a fine amount of power for a sporty two-door coupe. The base V6 is no longer the penalty it once was.
- The Roush experience is one of the best aftermarket solutions out there. Roush acts as its own OEM, acquiring the donor car and building the whole thing in-house before you even pick it up. Plus, all of their products come with a warranty that doesn’t violate Ford’s.
- I forgot how lousy the base Mustang’s interior is – that’s certainly not a ding on Roush, but instead on Ford. I guess it’s not as egregious here as it is in, say, the Shelby GT350, but the flat, cloth seats, small center console display, and so-so materials don’t look or feel great from inside. One fun bit, though: In the gauge cluster, with the automatic transmission, a Roush logo replaces the “R” in “PRNDS.” Clever.
- No part of the RS package affects performance – the engine and chassis are unchanged. You do get a more robust exhaust, but it tends to have an unpleasant drone at freeway speeds, and just kind of amplifies the poor sound quality of the base V6 engine. It’s loud for the sake of being loud, and nothing more.
- Here’s the huge problem: Yes, this car only costs $31,490, which is super cheap for a Roush, but you can have a perfectly lovely EcoBoost Mustang with the Performance Pack for a lot less. I’d normally remind you that this is the very base EcoBoost model, but with the Roush, you aren’t getting any bells and whistles for this low price point, either. Unless you’re all about that Jack Roush style, perhaps the best Mustang experience at this price point is what you can get right out of the factory.
Photos: Steven Ewing / Motor1.com