Steeda has made America’s Fords go faster since 1988. Now, the Florida-based company has brought its modified Mustangs to the UK. Meet the Steeda Q500 Enforcer.
Its name may evoke Blade Runner or Robocop, but there’s nothing particularly futuristic about the Q500. This tuned Mustang is defiantly old-school, with a 5.0-litre V8 upfront, more torque than traction and an exhaust rumble to rouse the dead.
That all sounds very, very cool, particularly if – like me – you were raised on a diet of Bruce Springsteen records. “Well, the night’s busting open, these two lanes will take us anywhere,” sang The Boss on Thunder Road. But does his American dream still work in suburban Surrey?
In dark Magnetic Grey on 20-inch rims, the Steeda reeks of subtle menace. Broad of shoulder and square of jaw, it looks every inch the modern muscle car.
Cosmetic changes are limited to a front splitter, illuminated sill kickplates, a duck tail spoiler and ‘STEEDA’ lettering across the tailgate. The Velgen alloys are another US import, filling-out the Mustang’s ample haunches and wearing Ferrari-specific Michelin Pilot Sport rubber.
The car rides on adjustable suspension with beefed-up anti-roll bars and a front strut brace. Its set-up was developed at Steeda’s test-track in Valdosta, Georgia, so the firm promises good handling despite that semi-slammed stance.
Video: Steeda Q500 Enforcer on the road
Under the bonnet, Ford’s venerable V8 is treated to a cold-air intake system, ECU tweaks and a freer-flowing exhaust. The net result is an extra 64hp and 94lb ft of torque, totalling 480hp and 485lb ft overall.
Steeda doesn’t publish performance figures, but I reckon you could knock half a second off the standard Mustang’s 4.8sec to 62mph.
If you buy one new, the Q500 starts at around £53,000 – £10,000 more than a Mustang GT. A more afforable Q350 model, based on the four-cylinder Ecoboost-engined Mustang, costs £6,000 for the conversion or roughly £44,000 for a complete car.
There’s also a flagship Q850 kit, offering 850 wild horses for £36,000 (or £80,000 all-in). More on that later…
Like a Hollywood blockbuster or a supersized Coke, the Mustang has always offered lots of muscle for your money. Choose a Mercedes-AMG C63 Coupe with similar performance (and a soundtrack that’s almost as bombastic) and you’d be at least £13,000 lighter.
The Ford’s cabin is, however, where those cost-savings make themselves known. There’s nothing wrong with it as such, but the quality of plastics won’t keep Stuttgart awake at night and the touchscreen media system feels dated.
The wide, flat seats (designed for supersized Americans?) don’t offer much support either. I’d be tempted to fit the optional Ford Racing Recaros.
Steeda’s mods are minimal, but cover the main touch-points for the driver. There’s a lovely, smaller-diameter Alcantara steering wheel from the Mustang Shelby GT350R, plus a neat eight-ball gearknob.
Standard equipment on all Mustang V8s includes xenon headlights, electric seats, climate control air-con, DAB radio, cruise control and a reversing camera. Sat nav and parking sensors cost extra, as part of the Custom Pack.
Steeda is already a big name in Mustang tuning Stateside.
This Q500 V8, along with the Ecoboost-based Q350, are part of its push to win over UK ‘Stang owners. pic.twitter.com/fFa6t7mPsw
— Tim Pitt (@timpitt100) February 11, 2018
It’s hard to don my road-test hat and write a reasoned review of the Steeda Q500. For starters, it’s hardly a rational car: nobody actually needs 480hp, and you can expect fuel economy in the low teens if you drive it hard.
More pertinently, though, every time I press the start button I find myself making an involuntary oooof noise and smirking like a schoolboy who’s just dodged detention.
Inhaling and exhaling through Steeda pipes, the Ford V8 is absurdly, magnificently epic.
At idle, it rumbles with the mighty intensity of shifting tectonic plates, while full-bore acceleration sounds like a WW2 bomber strafing the high street. Your neighbours may file for an ASBO, but anyone with a drop of petrol in their veins will be utterly besotted.
As you’d expect, the engine’s defining characteristic is torque. It’ll cruise comfortably at 30mph in fifth gear, and the long ratios of the six-speed manual ’box allow relaxed progress if you’re not in a ‘Steve McQueen’ sort of mood.
Put the hammer down and the Mustang feels properly quick, albeit not quite as head-spinning as its nigh-on-500hp output suggests. Blame the gearbox, perhaps, and a portly 1.7-tonne kerb weight.
With so little space under its wheelarches, the Q500’s ride is firm and fidgety around town. It soon smoothes out with speed, though, and the suspension can be adjusted for greater pliancy.
The additional roll stiffness means it turns in more eagerly than a regular Mustang V8, and, while it’s still no BMW M4 when it comes to poise or steering feedback, it feels like a machine you can grab by the scruff and enjoy without fear of the chassis biting back.
If you really want to upset your neighbours, you can, of course, use the Mustang’s standard Line-Lock function. This holds the front brakes, allowing you to spin the rear tyres up into a smokey burnout – a task the Q500 manages with hilarious ease.
It wasn’t just Springsteen who eulogised the Mustang. From Wilson Pickett’s Mustang Sally to Vanilla Ice rollin’ in his five-point-oh, the Ford is an icon – as American as Oprah, corn dogs and NASCAR.
The Q500 Enforcer builds on the strengths of the Mustang V8 without ruining the basic recipe. It looks and sounds fabulous, but unlike some tuner cars we’ve tried, it isn’t too extreme for the road. The modifications feel well-resolved and worthwhile.
God knows, this car isn’t perfect. I’d be keen to dial a little more softness into the suspension – even if that means raising the ride height – and I do wonder if I could live with the sheer volume of that exhaust every day. But if muscle cars are your thing, and you want one that’s exciting, exclusive and right-hand-drive, the Q500 Enforcer is the real deal.
– POSTSCRIPT –
After this Mustang did the rounds of UK journalists, it returned to Steeda and was beefed up to Q750 Streetfighter spec. That means – you guessed it – 750bhp, or (760 metric horsepower), plus more exclusivity than any supercar: it’s the only one in Europe.
The Streetfighter is now for sale via Philip Ireland Performance Cars for £49,995 – arguably good value for a fast Ford that outguns a McLaren 720S. Just remember to keep something back for replacement rear tyres.
Still want more? The Q750 has since been superseded by the even-more-insane Q850 and, once the lockdown lifts, I’ll be pestering Steeda to drive one. Watch this space.
Thank you to Adrian Flux for insuring the Steeda Q500 Enforcer.