A Fast (Really Fast) Spin in the 2012 Roush RS3

From our readers survey, we can already tell that you want to know what cars Knoxvillians should be driving. With that, the first one we road-tested was the 2012 Roush Stage 3 Mustang convertible.

Ford's Mustang is a nice ride, but when Jack Roush of Roush-Fenway Racing fame and one of the world's leading automotive authorities tweaks it, you get something positively evil, wicked, mean, and nasty. The front engine/rear wheel drive configuration uses Ford's 5.0L 4-valve DOHC TiVCT 412 HP Coyote engine. To that, Roush adds its R2300 supercharger with 10 PSI of boost to yield 540 horses. Roush also includes a three-year/36,000 mile powertrain warranty for those prone to excess.

A 6-speed manual transmission places 510 ft./lbs. of torque where it's needed, allowing for smoky burnouts or the initiation of in-traffic maneuvers with a few short throws of the shifter. The sound of the RS3 is a giveaway, as the Roush exhaust with its hollow-chamber muffler design growls at low speed.

The suspension system, which consists of Roush front struts, rear shocks, front and rear springs, stabilizer bars, jounce bumpers, and an anti-wheel hop kit, lowers the RS3 and gets the power to the ground. Its four-piston, 14-inch brake rotor system can be had with red or black brake calipers, and 20-inch Hyper-Black or chrome wheels shod with Cooper UHP RS3 tires.

Among the exterior upgrades are the Roush front fascia with driving lights, chin spoiler, side rocker splitters, rear valence, rear deck-lid spoiler, and square exhaust tips. Interior enhancements include leather seats with an embroidered RS3 logo, illuminated sill plates, a black or white shifter ball, and an engraved Stage 3 badge with the car's serial number.

Roush's color options package allows for personalization of three elements: eight vehicle, six graphic, and six graphic accent colors, for 288 color combinations. To view the paint colors, graphics and other options, visit the Roush Online Vehicle Configurator at roushperformance.com.

Want to drive a Roush? Lance Cunningham Ford (4101 Clinton Hwy., 888-719-3506) is the world's #2 Roush dealer. They have 12 cars in stock, and want to get you behind the wheel. This Kona Blue RS3 convertible retails for around $69K, but it can be had for less at Cunningham. Thanks to Roush Performance and Hillbank Motors for their assistance with the road test. m

Got a cool car, a collection or an upcoming car show? E-mail Jason at spdnmotion@yahoo.com. Please allow at least two weeks in advance for your event to be posted.