So we all want fast cars, right? That’s just the nature of our being as automotive enthusiasts. It’s just so fun to press that little bit harder on the accelerator and welcome the rush as you push beyond the threshold of legality during your daily commute. Some of us even like to obliterate that same threshold in the safe and responsible sanctuary of a racetrack. However, if you’re like me, your modified car doesn’t reward you for doing so. Quite the opposite, in fact. Most modified vehicles exceeding their limits with power-enhancing aftermarket upgrades reciprocate their speed-addicted owners with broken factory parts. The tunnel gets darker if you’re not adept at fixing it on your own, causing costly labor and repair expenses — not to mention the downtime associated with your now-costly investment. What if you want to go fast reliably, and without any of the headaches mentioned above? We present to you the 2020 ROUSH Stage 3 Mustang (RS3). A heart-pounding, attention-demanding, 750 horsepower, supercharged piece of bald eagle ingenuity from the good folks at ROUSH Performance. Oh, and it’s got a freakin’ warranty!
I don’t know about you, but I’m at my wits end with my project car. If I mess up/blow another engine this year, I’m not quite sure how I’ll justify the negatives in my mind. So, the idea of having a car as capable as the RS3 Mustang is in factory form, without the downsides of untested aftermarket parts, sounds very appealing. For the $24,995 above base vehicle price that the RS3 Mustang costs, it’s even more worth it.
It’s not just another Mustang with a blower. It is so much more than that, and after I spent the day with this beast finished in the Signature Package, it has a die-hard Honda enthusiast questioning his brand loyalty.
So what’s involved in the ROUSH Stage 3 Signature Package? First, let’s start with the looks. I think the S550 chassis, in general, is a massive leap forward for the Blue Oval. However, the ROUSH engineers magnified it further with a host of extras on their R9 Aero body kit. They thought of everything to enhance the exterior of this stunning Oxford White example, and it shows. The simple yet pleasing RS3 emblem in the blacked-out ROUSH upper grille cleans up the fascia using the rule of thirds. The tasteful and functional front chin spoiler doubles as a splitter that extends under the engine bay, initiating the front end’s aggression and providing alluring downforce. The wheel shrouds keep clean airflow from being disturbed by the rotating wheel and tire package, while high-flow corner pockets regulate heat extraction in the fenders and hood alike.
As we work our way past the Stage 3’s racing slash highlighted by a special ROUSH fender badge within matte black and red accents, the remainder of the vehicle’s presence comes into view. In the rear, the subtle ROUSH decklid spoiler, the rear blackout plate between the taillights, and the innovative rear valence complete the standout exterior’s impact on airflow and appearance. After examining only the body’s treatments, we got a clearer picture of just how much has been changed on this Mustang.
So, how about the handling? Well, the RS3 Mustang feels sharp, agile, and yet it’s easy to manage.
“With the stock Mustang GT pumping out 460 horsepower, adding another 290 to the stock drivetrain and still maintaining superior handling and drivability for our customers also means we needed to enhance other aspects of the vehicle package,” says Will Woodington, Sales Manager of Aftermarket Products at ROUSH Performance.
“To help support this great power being put to the wheels, we have custom-calibrated the stock Ford MagneRide Suspension system.”
A set of lowering springs further enhances the vehicle’s control and rests the body atop the 20-inch Agate Gray forged wheels. These strong yet lightweight race-inspired rollers are decorated with ROUSH badging across their design and are wrapped in sticky Continental ExtremeContact Sport tires all around. And boy, does it need them. As the throttle opens, these tires keep the rising speeds entirely under control and make the driver feel calm — a welcome sensation when you’re behind the wheel of something as powerful as this.
Speaking of behind the wheel, let’s talk about the pleasant Amaretto leather interior included in the Sport Interior package. You can feel the stiff bolsters holding you in tight, but you still sink into the plush material like you’re relaxing at home. Finished with ROUSH embroidery under the headrest, various trick tags on the sides, and contrasting black accents, the diamond-stitched seating is just the right amount of comfort.
Exploring elsewhere in the cockpit, you begin to realize that ROUSH has left no stone unturned on the entire chassis, including the instrument panel. There are intriguing graphics inside the gauge cluster overlay and boost gauge. Still, my favorite treatment is the substitution of the ROUSH logo in the display’s reverse indicator. It’s such a subtle touch, but one that I found delightful.
There is a fashionable ROUSH toolkit fastened to the trunk’s underside. Whether it was the solid packaging of the kit — including the metal clamps holding it shut — or the laser cut foam housing the tools, I loved everything about it. It contained everything needed for routine checks on the vehicle and could be a potential lifesaver if required in a pinch. It was one of my favorite parts of the entire car due to its quality construction and well-thought finish.
The carbon fiber trim perfecting the dashboard inspires a competition feel, but only slightly compared to the floor’s billet pedals or bright red paddle shifter extensions on the steering wheel. Additional touches like branded door sills, floor mats, key fob, and even a pouch for the wheel lock key solidify that this is no ordinary Mustang.
Of course, that’s also easy to tell once the dial on the ROUSH active exhaust turns to Track mode, which opens up the valves on the growling quad-tip performance exhaust system — with an X-pipe for good measure. The aggressive notes it creates with the dial in this mode are precisely what a Mustang should be. It forces recognition without being overwhelming while driving.
So now, let’s get to the best part of the whole shebang — the power! My goodness, the power. Neatly stuffed inside the tidy engine bay, a 5.0-liter V8 with a ROUSH Performance Phase 2 supercharger generates the astounding 750 horsepower statistic and will push your organs to the back of your body. If 750 horsepower seems like a lot of juice for a road-going vehicle, that’s because it is. Still, when it ignites every fiber of your being while opening the throttle, you’ll be happy it packs such a punch!
“ROUSH Performance is always striving to build the perfect balance between a road car and a race car. In 2019, our RS3 Mustang made an impressive 710 horsepower. In 2020, we bumped that number up to 750, producing even more power out of Ford’s stock 5.0-liter Coyote engine, paired with our powerful 2.65-liter supercharger system,” says Woodington.
An assortment of serialized plates flank the engine bay and can be found elsewhere on the car, signifying the official nature of what you’re driving. However, it’s the billet finishing touches, the see-through intake chamber, and the brute force supercharger that steals the show.
We know what you’re thinking, though. A road-going vehicle with this much power won’t always have clear, open roads to force-feed cold air and keep engine temps at their minimums. It has to deal with traffic, which is why ROUSH fitted an extensive cooling package to aid various items. The larger low-temperature radiators help the engine stay cool in the front end, while the supplementary transmission and differential heat exchangers further drive that point home on their respective features.
Last but not least, what if there is an issue with this modified Mustang’s power delivery? What if the coolers don’t quite cool how they should, and something pops? Well, ROUSH thought of that, too. A 5-Year/60,000-Mile Powertrain Warranty covers the 2020 RS3 Mustang’s powerplant, while a 3-Year/36,000-Mile Warranty covers the body. It’s a sweet cherry on top and is well worth the peace of mind it creates.
In the end, ROUSH produces an incredibly special package overall in the RS3 Mustang. Serialized individual chassis, all manufactured in Livonia, Michigan, using the highest quality parts and procedures on the market. You’d be hard-pressed to find a comparable alternate with the same power, handling, styling, or warranty coverage that this possesses. It’s the ultimate form of Mustang that doesn’t break the bank.
Or you can supercharge, tune, modify, calibrate, and reupholster a Mustang at your own risk. Let me know how that works out for you when anything goes wrong.
Photography by Kyle Crawford and Brandon Cody
2020 ROUSH Stage 3 Mustang
|Power:||750 horsepower, 670 lb-ft of torque|
|0-60 mph:||3.6 seconds|
|Price:||Starts at $24,995 above base vehicle|
|Warranty:||5-Year/60,000-Mile Powertrain Warranty|
3-Year/36,000-Mile Body Warranty