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2016 ROUSH RS3 MUSTANG REVIEW (select to view enlarged photo)

The rocket-like thrust with those sticky tires on dry pavement helped me realize anew why enthusiasts love these cars so – adrenaline on demand!

2016 ROUSH RS3 MUSTANG Review by Steve Purdy The Auto Channel Michigan Bureau

The good folks at Roush and I were looking for a good time for me to fit this hot-shot Mustang into my review schedule just about the time a friend asked me if I would like to stop by the club-sponsored regional Mustang and Ford show at a county park nearby. Sounded like an inspired plan to me. I could put the car in the show just for fun.

2016 ROUSH RS3 MUSTANG REVIEW(select to view enlarged photo)

This RS3, or “Stage 3,” Mustang, thoroughly massaged by the team at Roush Performance in Livonia, Michigan, goes like stink and makes a lot of noise doing it, all the while looking good with a variety of Roush cosmetics. We recently had the pleasure of reviewing the similarly upgraded F-150 so couldn’t wait to get our greedy paws on - and right foot into - this special Mustang.

The Blue Oval Bash, now in its 19th year, covered the large meadow in the center of Fitzgerald Park, also known as The Ledges for the exposed rock along the Grand River where climbers like to practice. Every generation of Mustang was represented around the field many with hoods up showing off a variety of dressed up engine compartments.

Our bright red Roush Stage 3 posed with its hood up as well most of the day showing off that cool supercharger poised atop the engine. Jack Roush’s signature boldly adorns the front fascia support and the riveted-on data plate attests to the car’s authenticity. A variety of aftermarket Mustangs shared the class grouping.

And, what’s under this hood?

2016 ROUSH RS3 MUSTANG REVIEW (select to view enlarged photo)

The Roush 2.3L TVS supercharger and related components (manifold, electronics, etc.) are responsible for boosting the venerable Ford 5.0-liter V-8’s horsepower from the standard 435 with 400 pound-feet of torque to an amazing 670 with 545 pound-feet. Our test car has the six-speed automatic transmission, robust enough to manage all that power but they replace the half shafts with stronger ones to get all that power safely to the road. We would have preferred the manual in this car but I must admit that in “Sport+” mode the automatic is mighty entertaining with rev-matching, quick and enthusiastic downshifts. It also has a “Track” mode for truly monstrous performance keeping the revs up and rewarding a spirited driving style. Paddle shifters add to the in-control feel as well.

Fuel mileage is probably not a big concern for most Roush Stage 3 customers, but I’ll report we got 21.5 mpg over our time with the car. And that’s with my foot in it a good share of the time.


Our test car has the optional Active Exhaust that Roush introduced little more than a year ago, a system that allows us to adjust the raucous sound from a throaty loud rumble to a nearly straight-pipe roar. Our Roush resource guy, Mike, assures me it is still legal even at full scream but I kept it in the more subdued setting until I was out of my neighborhood. The system involves electronically controlled baffles inside the exhaust system that can be adjusted with a small knob on the console or even programed for differing rpm levels with a smart phone app.

Chassis improvements are limited to upgraded 1-way, height-adjustable coil-over shocks and 20-inch Quicksilver wheels shod with ultra high performance Cooper tires. Those, of course make for great grip but frequent trips to the tire store as you can use them up rather quickly.

Much of the rest of the Roush treatment is cosmetic though aerodynamics are improved by such components as the unique front fascia with “aero pockets.” Fully functional hood vents allow the engine compartment to breath a bit better. Badging and graphics all over the car give it the unmistakable Roush personality.

Other tried and true Mustang components are unaltered by the Roush folks like the much-improved Sync3 touch screen with simpler touch screen that includes pinch and swipe finger controls and better overall user interface features. Interior and other options will vary depending on how you order your Roush Mustang. You essentially spec out your car at your Roush-authorized Ford dealer.

So, do we really need to write about driving impressions? You can probably imagine (or maybe you can’t if you’ve not driven something with this kind of power) what a unique experience this can be. With windows down I fired it up the first time in the Roush parking lot. I rotated the Active Exhaust knob back and forth a couple times to get a sense for the breadth of sound. It went from a brash but controlled burble at the quieter setting to a crisp, harsh, raucous roar at full open. Wow!

Leaving it in the loudest setting I pulled out onto Schoolcraft Road giving it about half throttle and it felt much like muscle cars I’ve experienced in the past, though exponentially more so – a firm, powerful thrust engendering an involuntary gasp. Taking the country two-lanes for the first 30 miles of my drive home I experimented with the exhaust note, throttle position, shift modes and handling characteristics finally putting my foot in it on an uphill, cloverleaf freeway entrance ramp. Another gasp! The rocket-like thrust with those sticky tires on dry pavement helped me realize anew why enthusiasts love these cars so – adrenalin on demand!

Over the ensuing few days as I lived with this hot shot Mustang I got the feeling that those young guys who looked at me enviously as I rumbled by on the road and at the car show were thinking that such a car must be wasted on an old guy like me. I’m not sure about the demographics of the few thousand buyers of these cars each year, but I’ll bet it’s mostly guys, and a few gals, my age who can afford them.

Pricing is based on the content of the Mustang you choose from Ford plus the prices from the menu of mechanical and cosmetic embellishments you add from Roush. This R3 starts at $22,590 over the price of the starter ‘Stang and includes the high-performance engine stuff, wheels and tires described above, plus a long list of special body and interior components, some functional, some cosmetic.

To find a Roush dealer and get the full scoop go to: www.ROUSHperformance com

The rocket-like thrust with those sticky tires on dry pavement helped me realize anew why enthusiasts love these cars so – adrenaline on demand!

©Steve Purdy, Shunpiker Productions, All Rights Reserved