There is a brand new Ford Mustang in town and it is better than its predecessor. Can the 480bhp Steeda Q500 Enforcer Mustang, which is based on the old model, still hold its own?
Never heard of Steeda? No matter. It is the largest privately owned Ford performance parts specialist in the world which, every now and then, offers a complete car with various grin-based modifications. In Mustang land, you have the Q350 Enforcer Mustang, which is based on V6 EcoBoost, and the Q500 Enforcer Mustang, which uses the V8 GT.
Steeda sets out to provide a car that is better than the original in terms of excitement, handling and performance but without affecting its ability to do more mundane tasks such as the shopping. Or, even worse, visiting the dentist. All you have to do is pay £8,998 over the standard GT and away you go.
The issue for the Q500 Enforcer Mustang we drove is that Ford has just released a new model (see here for the 2019 Ford Mustang: First drive), which improves on the MY17 model underneath the Steeda with more horsepower, improved comfort and superior handling.
Having driven all versions of the Mustang, we decided to see how the Q500 compares.
A shout out to classic car and specialist insurance company, Adrian Flux, for insuring the Steeda Mustang.
What is the Steeda Q500 Enforcer Mustang?
The Steeda Q500 Enforcer differs from the standard Mustang in various areas, the most obvious of which is the horsepower output. By adding a bespoke cold air intake system, adjusting the engine mapping and adding a custom exhaust to the 5.0-litre V8, total horsepower ends up at 480bhp (up 70bhp) and torque at 485lb/ft (an increase of around 70lb/ft).
Then there is the revised chassis and suspension setup comprised thicker front and rear bespoke anti-roll bars, progressive rate springs, strut tower brace and and upgraded bushes, all of which sharpen the handling and tighten up the whole experience. Adjustable suspension means you can soften or harden the ride, with our test car set to a happy medium between the two.
As for grip, the Q500 comes equipped with Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tyres (or the Cup version for track users) wrapped around 20-inch Velgen VMB7 alloy wheels that not only look great, they add an inch of width yet avoid weighing anymore than the standard Ford Mustang’s offering. Should sir or madam want a little extra comfort, 19-inchers are available.
The looks have been given a going-over, too, resulting in a beefier stance that ekes even more attitude out of a suitably American design. If it is attention you want, it is attention you will get, especially as a lot of people will see the ‘Steeda’ writing and wonder what the hell it is (in a good way).
On the inside, our test car benefited from the comfortable Alcantara steering wheel from the GT350R and Steeda cue ball gear knob. Like the old Mustang, it is a decent cabin that proves comfortable and the ‘Ground Speed’ analogue dials and silver switches here and there make it much nicer to look at than a Focus RS.
The downside is that the 2018 Mustang’s digital dials are nowhere to be seen in the Steeda press car, which can also be said of the new ‘My Mode’ custom settings mode and Drag Mode, not that the latter is particularly useful unless you really love quarter-mile drag races.
Is the Steeda Q500 Enforcer Mustang’s handling any good?
American cars used to get a lot of stick for being great in a straight line and rather poor in the corners. These days, with the likes of the Corvette ZR1 proving that is no longer the case, it would be unfair to assume the Mustang is a bad performer.
Obviously such a big, heavy car has its limitations but it is an easy car to drive fast and, with Steeda’s course of firming everything up and providing more power, you end up with a much more agile machine. One that can bite hard in most gears and dig deep when you need traction.
Put your foot down and the response definitely feels sharper than the old Mustang and on a par with the more powerful 2018 model, which means you never want for power. Except in the case of the Steeda, the custom exhaust system provides a much louder, almost deafening boom that never fails to delight.
Even better is the fact it takes on a new character as you reach peak revs, which only encourages you to drive it hard. But with that V8 grumble pleasant at all speeds, you can take it easy and find the Steeda fulfilling. Those comfy seats and the epic soundtrack make taking the long way home way too tempting (even if it means enduring 18mpg at best).
The pursuit of speed is rarely one without its downsides. In the case of the Steeda Mustang Q500 Enforcer, that means enduring a firmer ride that can make small undulations unpleasant. But then you expect it to be that way – this is a Mustang on steroids, after all.
Less bearable is the suspension creaking that takes place when any meaningful suspension travel takes place. Steeda says it is trying to iron out the problem, but right now you will certainly notice it as you cruise along over speed bumps. At higher speeds, of course, it is drowned out by the V8.
The more frenetic nature of the Steeda Mustang is also noticeable on a motorway or at higher speeds. In the standard Mustang, you can jump into sixth gear and enjoy quiet motoring. In the Steeda, you are treated to one hell of a drone. In short bursts it is fine, but after 20 minutes on the motorway we ended up dropping to fifth purely for our own sanity.
Should I buy one, then?
If you love the idea of a Mustang, the Steeda is going to be tempting. Key improvements make it a more agile, all-round lairier beast that can be heard three miles away instead of one.
But with the new ‘stang out there (and a new Steeda version now available), it is a harder sell. Given the rarity, styling adjustments and noise, the value for money proposition is still reasonable though. Enough for you to forgive the harsh ride and squeaky suspension, anyway.