Seyth Miersma, Editor-In-Chief
One of the very first things that grabbed my attention when we were loaned Roush’s 2010 540RH Mustang this past fall, was the lack of overt attention grabbing it did. That is to say, most of the Roush-tuned products that I’ve had the pleasure to test on behalf of Winding Road, have come complete with body kits, paint jobs, huge chrome wheels, and decaling that would insure they not ever be overlooked. I’d guess that a large number of the typical Roush customers appreciate that sort of extroverted appearance, but I was nevertheless pleased by the slightly more undercover nature of the, very, very fast 540.
Obviously, the main competition for the new Roush is the equally powerful Shelby GT500. Roush has priced its supercharged 540RH to be extraordinarily competitive with the Shelby, with both cars netting out around $48K. Personal preference for Shelby or Roush detailing aside, I think the real comparison comes down the springing and suspension.
The GT500 has never felt completely right to me, with its massive power too easily overwhelming its overly soft suspension setup. The Roush, complete with a custom fettled suspension, does a much better job at containing vertical movement. One is much better able to put down the massive power with confidence and authority, with the stiffer, better-rotating Roush setup.
With power so easy (relatively speaking) to draw from Ford V-8s, its ride control that ultimately makes one high-po Mustang different from the rest. I’d put the 540RH second only to the one-off, Ford Racing Performance Parts-equipped car WR (an incredibly rigid and sweet-handling job) had on loan in this regard. The Roush probably struck a better balance for those looking for a daily driver, however.
I also really like the 540RH’s short-throw, billet aluminum shifter here, too. Great, mechanical-feeling linkage that allows you to really wring the best out of the superb motor.
John Snyder, Production Editor
Of all the different iterations of the 2010 Mustang I have driven, the Roush 540RH has by far been the loudest, wildest, most impressive of the lot. It’s not often that I come across a car that I’m too afraid to use all or most of its potential, but Roush inspired a healthy, thrilling dose of fear, and I found myself piloting it with respectful restraint. Here’s why.
The 540RH can pull away from a stop in third gear with no difficulty. In first gear, it takes serious concentration to simply maintain traction. First to second is even hairier, with the rear tires breaking loose without a thought, the back end writhing about anxiously while the car is already in motion. Even in third gear, on the highway, I could lay into the accelerator, and could still spin the tires. And, by the way, all this is accompanied by a gut-wrenching, mind-shattering exhaust note that pounds any discursive thought out of your head. In a sense, the car dehumanizes you, and man and machine combine into some sort of angry Tasmanian devil constantly on the verge of berserker rage.
But it was not beyond control. Quite the contrary, in fact, the Roush provides more feedback through seat and steering wheel than the Shelby GT500. That, and input is are crisper, and more precise. And thank the automotive gods for that, for without it, I’d be toast.
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