In spite of the sharp looks, impressive performance, and wonderful exhaust tone with just a smidgen of supercharger whine mixed in, the new Roush 380R comes standard with one major annoyance-people want to look at it and talk about it. Whether it's rubber-neckers doing a double-take as you whiz by them on the interstate, neighbors dropping by to check out the white and blue Mustang in the driveway, or strangers wandering over at the gas station, the 380R attracts attention and conversation. But heck, that's why we drive Mustangs in the first place.
The 380R is hard to miss, especially when it's decked out in Shelby-like Oxford White with blue stripes (it's also available in red with white). The car oozes eyeball appeal, sitting just over the Roush wheels and looking sleek and fast-even when idle-with the Cobra hood, Stage 3 front fascia, and rear spoiler. The 380R's "Nostalgia" stripe package places vintage GT-style stripes along the rocker panels and dual Shelby LeMans-type stripes over the top.
With approximately 20 more horsepower than last year's 360R, the updated '03 Roush Mustang comes close to matching the '03 Cobra in terms of power and torque. The feel from the driver seat is totally different, however, with the 380R's two-valve 4.6-liter engine making its best power at the upper ranges of the rpm band, while the Cobra's 390/390 combination of horsepower and torque pulls harder in the mid-range. The plaque in front of the shifter tells the tale: 379 hp and 380 lb-ft of torque, thanks to the Roush-engineered Roots supercharger that sits on top of the 4.6. Also used in Roush's '03 Stage 3 model, the supercharged engine comes with an aluminum flywheel, Roush-certified OBD-II calibration, and a Roush-designed fuel system.
The 380R's power is great on the freeway, allowing it to zip around slower traffic and accelerate smoothly to speed at on ramps.
In standard form, the Roush 380R is also equipped with Roush front brakes with 13-inch rotors, billet aluminum pedals, and Roush's luminescent face gauges, which give off an easy-on-the-eyes green glow at night.
But the 380R convertible that was dropped off at the Mustang Monthly offices was way beyond standard. As is typical of vehicles built to impress the press, the 380R we spent a week with was loaded with optional equipment. Most noticeable was the custom leather seats in white with blue inserts-a dramatic addition that complemented the beautiful exterior. Also inside was the extra-cost short-throw shifter with the extra-cost Vintage Shifter handle designed by Jack Roush.
Looking much like an old Hurst stick, the Roush Vintage Shifter repositions the handle farther back for more of a road-race feel. If you're accustomed to driving a manual-shift late-model Mustang, the Roush Shifter will feel a bit strange at first. However, if you're used to an old Hurst in a '66 Mustang, the Roush version will feel familiar. Even the knob is vintage-style, with a five-speed pattern instead of four-speed.
Our car was also equipped with two big-ticket options-the Roush Brakes by Alcon (four-piston calipers, 14-inch front rotors, and 13-inch rear rotors, plus the required 18-inch wheels) and the Roush Stage 3 suspension. In particular, the brakes were awesome, but the pads, like most with a high-performance compound, left plenty of dust on the front wheels after just a short trip.
A Roush trunk-mounted toolbox and windshield banner completed the option package, which added over $10,000 to the cost of the 380R convertible. While a standard 380R convertible can be acquired for $45,000, the options spiraled the sticker price on our press car to nearly $56,000; for a coupe, knock off three or four grand.
For the money, you get a Roush-engineered Mustang with Roush supercharged power. The stares come at no extra charge.