Visitors to the Autosport International Show at the National Exhibition Centre in January were treated to a first look of the Q500 Enforcer, an aggressively-named Mustang introduced to British shores by the UK arm of revered Blue Oval tuning outfit, Steeda Performance Vehicles. Regular readers will know the Steeda name thanks to our recent reviews of the American firm’s 250bhp Mondeo Sport and the 342bhp Q350, a modified Mustang powered by Ford’s 2.3-litre EcoBoost inline-four. Punchy turbocharged power is all well and good, but if you’re adamant a muscle machine should have eight cylinders and a monstrous roar to announce the fact, then the 480bhp Q500 is the ‘Tang for you.
Steeda has been fettling Fords to great success for more than three decades. Henry’s men recognise the quality and popularity of the Florida-based tuner’s work, which is why they allow Steeda-badged beasts to be bought through selected outlets in their dealer network. In Blighty, this means you can pop along to Haynes Ford (haynesford.co.uk) in Maidstone and buy a Q500 safe in the knowledge you’re handing over your hard-earned dosh in exchange for an altered Ford that hasn’t compromised its factory warranty. Result.
Separating the Q500 from the stock five-litre GT is a smattering of under-bonnet airflow upgrades, including a bespoke induction kit, revised engine management software and an option of a Kooks cat-back exhaust delivering a brilliantly boisterous roar under load, whilst maintaining a satisfying burble on idle. As you’d expect, throttle response is sharper and many trapped ponies are set free (seventy of them gallop away from a factory-prescribed canter), but as is the case with so many of today’s performance cars, the secret to the Q500’s ability to rapidly get you to your destination lies in its chassis.
The standard anti-roll bars have been replaced by thicker parts with solid billet ends and lightweight aluminium mounts, while independent rear suspension is bolstered by a subframe alignment kit (designed to eliminate misalignment caused by a perplexing difference in factory bolt and bolt hole sizes) and a bushing support system. There’s model-specific geometry and a front strut brace too. Arguably better still, the Q500 we borrowed came loaded with Steeda’s cost-option coilovers, camber-adjust top mounts, billet rear shock mounts, billet vertical links, adjustable rear toe links and a rear subframe brace. All of this cool kit has been pushed to the limit on the company’s own test track in Georgia, at Sebring and Homestead Miami. Suffice to say, Steeda doesn’t do things by half!
Mustangs are known to be twitchy under load, and while it’s easy to run out of talent in rear-wheel drive muscle, Steeda’s chassis upgrades vastly reduce the likelihood of doing so; significantly diminished body roll is complemented by superior levels of grip in all four corners delivered by Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tyres wrapped around Velgen VMB7 staggered twenties with a huge 10.5-inches of width at the arse end of the car.
Colour-coded calipers don’t add any extra power, but they do look good peeking out from behind the giant multi-spokes. Besides, if there’s something the Q500 is lacking, it certainly isn’t the ability to impress at first glance! Subtle styling upgrades include a pronounced splitter, a polyurethane ducktail spoiler and a Steeda-branded rear panel. The car we borrowed also features Diode Dynamics LED side markers where factory reflectors used to sit. No fuss, OEM-plus!
Inside, a GT350R Alcantara-trimmed steering wheel, a billet cue ball shift knob, illuminated sill covers and a commemorative dash plaque distract from Ford’s questionable standard of dash trim and switchgear. The factory furniture might not be up to the same standard of what inhabits the cockpit of luxury German V8s, but where many autobahn stormers feature refinement to the point the driver feels disconnected, the Q500 stays true to the character of a Mustang, encouraging you to become an extension of the Ford you’re in charge of.
And what fun it is! Not only did we test the abilities of the car on deserted country roads, where sleeping wildlife was rudely awoken by the splendidly loud roar of the V8 channelling its anger through the free-flowing Kooks pipework, we decided to test the car’s abilities on the narrow, busy streets of central London. The furiously fast Ford’s scale would suggest it isn’t at all suited to the Big Smoke, but poke at low revs, precise handling and the appointment of an optional optimised clutch spring made nipping in and out of traffic a doddle. Admittedly, you’re not going to experience the thrill of high speed when darting around the inner city, but you can rest assured the Q500’s tweaked fuel management software ensures surprisingly respectable mpg in all driving environments.
With the promise of plenty of smiles to the mile at a pleasing price point (under nine grand over the cost of a standard GT), anyone considering the purchase of a high-output V8 should be encouraged to visit steeda.co.uk. Well, what are you waiting for?!