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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
As some of you may already know, I'm planning to get a new toy some time later this year. I took the day off and decided to go on a few test drives. First I stopped by a Cadillac dealer to check out the CTS-V (2012 sedan) and then I went to the local Carmax store to look at a 2012 Boss 302. I'll start by saying these cars are completely different, and probably shouldn't even be compared, but I wanted to look at both because I want a high-performance value, regardless of packaging or brand.

Let's start with the CTS-V. It was very nice and luxurious. I loved the polished V-spoke wheels. The Recaro seats were comfortable but a little more firm than I'm accustomed, and having my wallet in my back pocket made it more noticeable. I prefer the SRT seats. The sueded steering wheel was awesome, but I'm not sure how well it would hold up to lots of use. The wood trim was really nice, but the center stack had black trim around it. I have no idea why they would use black trim there and wood in the other places. It was probably a cost-cutting measure, and I didn't like it. The pop-up NAV system was nice, but I think I would prefer a fixed one like the new SRT models have.

The CTS-V felt very refined and was more quiet than I expected, even at full throttle. When I mashed the gas, I was expecting a bigger shove back into the seat than what I got, and a bigger roar from the exhaust. The stock SRT8 exhaust definitely sounds better, IMO. Tip in throttle response of the CTS-V wasn't what I'm accustomed to either. You really had to press the throttle to get it moving. I'm not sure if the throttle response issue was because of the extra weight of the sales guy in the car. He was thin, but at over 6 ft tall he must have added some substantial weight to an already heavy car. The strange thing is that my Predator tuned SRT8 has a stronger low end punch than the CTS-V. This was unexpected. I tried several full throttle runs with traction control on and off. The power delivery of the CTS-V is different than the SRT, and the CTS-V pulls a bit harder at higher speeds. The CTS-V has a very linear power delivery that gets you going fast in very deceptive manner. The SRT8 by comparison delivers a quicker kick, but I'm sure a tuned CTS-V would feel different too. I also tried sport and tour mode. I was surprised at how compliant the ride felt in both modes. I must give big props to GM for creating a suspension that has such great handling capabilities and is so comfortable. It made me feel like a pro on some of the twisty roads. The brakes were fantastic and the steering was also better than expected.

The Boss 302 had no luxury whatsoever. It had manual cloth Recaro seats. The seats were very comfortable and nice looking though, and that's what's most important. It didn't have a NAV system or touchscreen. The interior was tight, but liveable and the driving/seating position was comfortable, as it was in the Caddy.

Once I started the Boss 302 and blipped the throttle, the love affair began. The sound emanating from the tail pipes was awesome. The short throw shifter was incredible (compared to all of the other manual cars I've ever driven), and the pedal placement and clutch were perfect for spirited driving. Clutch release was nice and predictable and was far easier to press/release than I expected. Unlike the CTS-V which had what I would consider "sluggish" throttle response, the Boss 302 said "try me" the moment I pressed the throttle. It must be the gearing because the Boss felt like it had more than the advertised 444 hp, while the Caddy felt like it may have been missing a few of its 556 advertised ponies. I rolled the throttle of the Boss to the floor and before I could blink, the sales guy and I were pinned to the back of our seats and I was rowing through the gears barking the tires on the shift into 2nd and 3rd gear. People on the other side of the road were probably wondering who the mad man was behind the wheel of the Mustang :). There was more vertical motion in the Boss over rough surfaces than the CTS-V, but the ride of the Boss was not uncomfortable by any means. I felt very comfortable pushing the Boss down a twisty road...and then the sales guy said someone put one in a ditch a few weeks ago, and it seemed like he wasn't comfortable with the way I was driving so I dialed it back a little, but still got a good feel for the car.

There was one thing I was disappointed with about both cars. I had a DVD loaded with MP3s that I wanted to play. We tried two CTS-Vs and the DVD wouldn't play in either one. I also tried to play it in the Boss 302 and had the same problem. I play this same DVD in my SRT8 and my wifes car and never have any problems with it. The Mustang and CTS-Vs displayed "read error" when I tried to play it. It's simply a DVD with one directory filled with MP3s. I did notice that if I put the files in multiple directories, my SRT8 will only load the files in the first directory it finds, but this DVD just had one directory with all the files in it. Maybe I need to not put them in a directory. I really wanted to listen to some of my favorite music, and couldn't because of the stupid DVD read problems.

I'm planning to test drive a bunch of other cars too, including the Shelby GT500, Chrysler 300 SRT8 (or Dodge Charger SRT8), and the Mercedes AMG C63. I usually agonize over which car to get for months, so I figure now is a good time to start because I can actually test them out on warm streets. Time is running out with cold weather around the corner later this fall. I want to wait until the weather gets real cold so I can go find a deal on one with ice all over it. LOL :) I'm pretty sure dealers aren't going to want these cars sitting around all winter long.

The fly in the ointment right now is availability of a 2013 GT500 to test drive. No Ford dealer near me has one, and the one I called that did have one was far away and said they were not allowing any test drives in it. That's crazy. I refuse to buy any car I can't test drive first. I also refuse to pay these rediculous ADMs that greedy Ford dealers are asking. Perhaps I can find a 2012 with navigation and SVT package and just test it out for starters and just be patient on testing the 2013 later this year.

To sum it up, I liked the CTS-V and loved the Boss 302. It's the opposite outcome I expected. The price of the Boss 302 makes it an incredible bargain, and it's so much fun to drive that I forgot I'm 48 years old! I'm not sure which would win a drag race, but the Boss felt faster and lighter on it's feet. I suspect that the Boss would be a little faster in just about every conceivable objective test. Now I need to do some more research and learn more about the Boss 302.

EDIT:

Just remembered - There are a few thing I forgot to mention. It's not a big deal, but the Boss 302 steering wheel does not telescope, and I had to adjust the seat further forward than I like because it was necessary (for a guy my height, 5'9") to fully engage the clutch.

Another thing I forgot to mention is that the key FOB for the CTS-V was HEAVY, and big! I personally think these proximity FOBs are gimmicky and stupid. I prefer the FOB of my SRT8 because it's not this giant awkward device. I don't like the idea of carrying that large FOB around in my pocket. Plus, once in the car, you can't put it into the ignition (I suppose that is the point), so you either have to put it into your pocket or maybe a cup holder where it will rattle around and where I could potentially forget it and leave it in the car. Who are the idiots that decided this was something we want?
 

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Perhaps to help you out, I am a shameless car whore. I have bought and sold so many different kinds of cars in such a short amount of time I don't know how my wife puts up with it! I have had everything from an IROC-Z to a F150 SVT Lightning to a Subaru STI to a BMW M3 to a Shelby GT500. You know what I have now? Two SRT8s. The Jeep made me a believer, and my 300 is icing on the cake. But that's not to say I am not reading your reviews and drooling at the thought of some other car or missing something I have already had. It's a tough decision you face! Being a car guy is hard, lol. Have fun and try them all man! I am interested to hear about the rest of them. I think you'll really dig the 2012 300 SRT8, though. I honestly don't miss having a manual, as fun as the GT500 was...
 

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Great write-up, Ken!

Every once in a while, my mind drifts into thinking about my next ride. The Boss 302 and the CTS-V are, I must admit, usually on that list.

An interesting statistic just came to light this week. One of the instructors at the road course - Calabogie - where I race, has a CTS-V and his lap times for the 3.05 mile course are running just over 2 minutes 30 seconds.

My 2006 SRT8 runs the exact same times! I thought the Caddy - especially with a pro driver with far more laps than me at that course - would have better times than me.

On another note - one of the track owners - who won the IMSA Porsche GT3 Canadian Championship Series this year, also has a 2012 Boss 302. He can turn lap times of 2:15 with Stang.

Now, if I could just get my hands on a Gen II SRT8 to run at the track for a few laps . . . Food for thought !
 

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Discussion Starter #4 (Edited)
Gibby - Yes, I know exactly what you mean. I find myself constantly thinking about cars and reading about them. Anytime something new comes out, I always want to learn more and try it out for myself. I am definitely going test out the 300 SRT8, but I'm a bit disappointed that I cannot get a tuner for it, at least not yet.

NorthernRider - That is very interesting information regarding the lap times. Honestly, the CTS-V didn't impress me as much as the Mustang Boss 302, and taking price into consideration, the Boss 302 is an outstanding value. I'm not saying the CTS-V wasn't fun or fast. I'm just saying it didn't run the way I dreamed it would, and for that kind of coin I was hoping for more. If I had to choose between one of these cars tomorrow, I would be picking up the Boss 302.

Now that I've driven the CTS-V, I can see how the performance and lap times would be close to a well tuned SRT8. I spend a lot of time studying statistics and reading about cars, but there is no substitute for a real test drive. Sometimes the statistics look great on paper, but the way a car feels is completely different than the numbers would suggest. I honestly had no idea I was going to like the Boss 302, and I was originally not even going to look at it. Then I saw that Carmax had one and I was pleasantly surprised. Now I really need to go check out the new 300 SRT8 and see how it performs. I've got a feeling I'm going to like it.
 

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Ken, thanks for the good write up. Why not drive a Camaro ZL1? Motor Trend liked that more than the GT500. Especially if Ford is so arrogant that they won't let anyone drive one before they pull out $63,000!!
 

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Discussion Starter #7 (Edited)
Now you have me thinking that I probably should give the ZL1 another chance. It probably wasn't enough for me to just sit in one and pass judgement based on just the driving position and outward visibility. I just figure there probably isn't much point in testing the ZL1 because it's so similar to the CTS-V, but I should do it just for completeness so I can know for sure. I sat in a ZL1 at the Washington Auto Show and didn't like it at all. The seating position was not comfortable for me no matter what adjustments I made and I really hated the lack of outward visibility. It was kind of like sitting in a bath tub that I couldn't see out of very well. Since I can get the outward visibility and better driving position in the CTS-V, and more luxury, I would probably want it instead. The ZL1 would have to impress me the way the Boss 302 did. I know the Boss has virtually no luxury, but it was so much fun that it made up for it. It's kind of strange that no magazine editor really complains about the ZL1 outward visibility issue for daily drivability. This may be a case of where less is more. The Boss 302 is lightweight compared to the others and really feels sporty from the moment you start driving it. The Boss 302 doesn't look as good on paper as the ZL1 or GT500, but it was a thrill to drive.

I love test driving cars, but I hate the test drive staff that say go down the street, make a u-turn and come back. The whole model for selecting a new car really stinks. I want to experience the car on my terms and test its capabilities. I try to be polite with these people, and usually just say that I'm going to test it on some familiar roads. I like to scope out the surronding area of the dealership in advance in my SRT8 and take it through some of the exact same areas first, and I always explain this to the sales guy, but sometimes they complain about my driving. I wish they would just hand over the keys and let me try it out alone until I'm satisfied, but I understand why they don't like to do this.
 

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The ZL1 has the same amazing "Magnetic" shock system as the CTS-V, where the shocks adjust in nano-seconds to the changing g-forces and slip angles.

However, like you Ken, I cannot get past the crappy cockpit in the Camaro. Sight lines are terrible and - having driven one, I cannot get a comfortable seat - wheel - pedal set up.
 

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Discussion Starter #9 (Edited)
The ZL1 has the same amazing "Magnetic" shock system as the CTS-V, where the shocks adjust in nano-seconds to the changing g-forces and slip angles.

However, like you Ken, I cannot get past the crappy cockpit in the Camaro. Sight lines are terrible and - having driven one, I cannot get a comfortable seat - wheel - pedal set up.
You just reminded me that there are a few thing I forgot to mention. It's not a big deal, but the Boss 302 steering wheel does not telescope, and I had to adjust the seat further forward than I like because it was necessary (for a guy my height, 5'9") to fully engage the clutch.

Another thing I forgot to mention is that the key FOB for the CTS-V was HEAVY, and big! I personally think these proximity FOBs are gimmicky and stupid. I prefer the FOB of my SRT8 because it's not this giant awkward device. I don't like the idea of carrying that large FOB around in my pocket. Plus, once in the car, you can't put it into the ignition (I suppose that is the point), so you either have to put it into your pocket or maybe a cup holder where it will rattle around and where I could potentially forget it and leave it in the car. Who are the idiots that decided this was something we want?
 

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Don't be fooled by your own butt! That CTS-V is faster than our cars in every gear, and pulls effortlessly at any speed on us. A simple pulley and a tune makes it JUST AS FAST as any GT500.

I have the same problem in a Stang, cannot find the right 'place' for the seat, etc. And they are on every corner, too common for my tastes.

I do not yet have seat time in a ZL-1, but despite its ergonomic flaws it has won both comparos I read against the GT500.

Worth the trouble for a test drive IMO.
 

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Gibby - Yes, I know exactly what you mean. I find myself constantly thinking about cars and reading about them. Anytime something new comes out, I always want to learn more and try it out for myself. I am definitely going test out the 300 SRT8, but I'm a bit disappointed that I cannot get a tuner for it, at least not yet.
Also disappointed about that, but it will come eventually. It's such a great car stock, though, that you can definitely live without touching it for quite some time!
 

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Discussion Starter #12 (Edited)
Don't be fooled by your own butt! That CTS-V is faster than our cars in every gear, and pulls effortlessly at any speed on us. A simple pulley and a tune makes it JUST AS FAST as any GT500.

I have the same problem in a Stang, cannot find the right 'place' for the seat, etc. And they are on every corner, too common for my tastes.

I do not yet have seat time in a ZL-1, but despite its ergonomic flaws it has won both comparos I read against the GT500.

Worth the trouble for a test drive IMO.
Now I'm beginning to think that maybe something was wrong with the CTS-V. It was a used one with 3200 miles on it, and it was not certified. I think I will go back next week and give a new one another test run, but based on my limited seat time so far, the CTS-V did not live up to my expectations. I know the butt dyno can be misleading, but it simply felt like something may have been off with the CTS-V. Perhaps that's why it's for sale. My SRT8 feels a bit stronger from a standing start or a 20 mph roll, and the CTS seemed to pull a little bit harder after 60 mph. I've driven my car with multiple passengers too, and the weight of the sales guy shouldn't have been that much of a factor. The CTS-V felt heavy, even compared to my giant SRT8. I guess I just expected a sportier feel from the CTS-V, and I didn't get that feeling. The Boss 302 on the other hand felt very sporty and it was considerably more fun to drive. I suggest you try these cars out for yourself so we can hear what you think about them.

Also, take a look at NortherRiders post here in this discussion regarding lap times.

Also disappointed about that, but it will come eventually. It's such a great car stock, though, that you can definitely live without touching it for quite some time!
I usually keep my cars stock for a year or two too. I regret not getting the Predator tuner sooner though.
 

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I usually keep my cars stock for a year or two too. I regret not getting the Predator tuner sooner though.
Yeah a tune and CAI (together) is usually the very first thing I try to go for as far as motor work. But I typically do suspension first on my cars. That's the other disappointing thing about the 300 SRT8 due to the ADS; no Eibach springs yet!
 

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Discussion Starter #15
I like the idea of supercharging my SRT8, but I'm afraid of what may happen. I've added a supercharger to another car a long time ago and had some bad experiences. If it wasn't my daily driver, it would be a consideration, but I need rock solid reliability.
 

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Not all S/C installs end in tears.

There are a few fellas on the LXforums who've had no issues. although, just like any power adder does, it usually looks for the weakest link in the engine and, further down in the powertrain. Ken, I know you've already had a taste of that, when you lost a half shaft a couple of years ago on a stock vehicle, so I can understand your apprehension.

I've daydreamed on countless occasions, of upgrades that I'd like to do on my own car. The plan is to work backwards form the axles/and Diff forward, but I just can't justify the expense at this point. Some quick math using Builder Bill Paramount performance goodies, suggests somewhere in the 13,000 dollar range, from the back wheel hubs to the flex plate, and engine has not been touched yet! A car nut has some difficult choices to make when it comes to getting the sought after sensation that he wants behind the wheel.

And there is always the possibility and hassle of an accident, that could render one's hard work and money, from all the custom upgrades, useless, as I painfully found out last September. That experience has me reluctant to do any serious mechanical upgrades, because if the car is totaled, it's a wee bit difficult explaining to the insurance that your rear end is worth 15 G's for example.

Sensibility would dictate, that I could take the 13 grand, plus the trade-in value of my car, and be in a brand new 2012 CSRT with financing an additional 5 to 10 k. Sure, you can't tune it, which leaves you with a very limited list of engine upgrades, but c'mon with 470Hp I'd say that's a bit of an improvement.
 

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did you have a red or black key for the boss? If you have the red key the car re tune it self and is even faster and also lopes at idle like you have a big cams in the motor.....the boss is a awesome machine.
listen to this
 

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Great write-ups Ken. There must be something going on with the V, I test drove one last summer so it's beeen a while, but my impression was exactly the opposite of yours. I thought it had a big push early, but it felt weird because there was no ramp up of acceleration through the PRMs like I was used to with the 6.1, and actually the 6.4 feels the same way. Heroic thrust down low, way more than the 6.1, but it feels about the same as the 6.1 as you sweep through the top of the tach.

While I haven't driven a Boss 302, I have driven a 5.0 track pack and I was pretty impressed with the acceleration and chasis feel. My wife is strong anti-Mustang, otherwise I might have one by now LOL She told me to get a Challenger, that's what I'm leaning towards. It's got that "dream car" stigma for me :)
 

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Discussion Starter #19 (Edited)
Not all S/C installs end in tears.

There are a few fellas on the LXforums who've had no issues. although, just like any power adder does, it usually looks for the weakest link in the engine and, further down in the powertrain. Ken, I know you've already had a taste of that, when you lost a half shaft a couple of years ago on a stock vehicle, so I can understand your apprehension.

I've daydreamed on countless occasions, of upgrades that I'd like to do on my own car. The plan is to work backwards form the axles/and Diff forward, but I just can't justify the expense at this point. Some quick math using Builder Bill Paramount performance goodies, suggests somewhere in the 13,000 dollar range, from the back wheel hubs to the flex plate, and engine has not been touched yet! A car nut has some difficult choices to make when it comes to getting the sought after sensation that he wants behind the wheel.

And there is always the possibility and hassle of an accident, that could render one's hard work and money, from all the custom upgrades, useless, as I painfully found out last September. That experience has me reluctant to do any serious mechanical upgrades, because if the car is totaled, it's a wee bit difficult explaining to the insurance that your rear end is worth 15 G's for example.

Sensibility would dictate, that I could take the 13 grand, plus the trade-in value of my car, and be in a brand new 2012 CSRT with financing an additional 5 to 10 k. Sure, you can't tune it, which leaves you with a very limited list of engine upgrades, but c'mon with 470Hp I'd say that's a bit of an improvement.
I've pretty much ruled out any kind of serious modifications (like aftermarket supercharger) to any car that I plan to rely on and drive on daily basis. I know it can be done, but there is always a risk, and I've got lots of reasons (based on personal experience) to have little confidence in aftermarket parts and speed shops. I also don't want to be stuck driving around in a POS rental car while my car is being repaired. My car has about 60K miles on it, and it really scares me to think of what could happen as a result of me modding it.

You pretty much summed up my exact thoughts with your last paragraph. Take the money I get for my car (and the savings from modding it into something more), come up with a nice down payment (which I already have), and get something that's ready to go without needing much of anything - plus I have a warranty and peace of mind.

did you have a red or black key for the boss? If you have the red key the car re tune it self and is even faster and also lopes at idle like you have a big cams in the motor.....the boss is a awesome machine.
listen to this
2012 Boss 302 Track Key and launch control - YouTube
Thanks for sharing the video. The launch control system is a pretty cool feature. I like that you have full control of launch RPM adjustment. Many launch control systems don't let you select the launch RPM, making them much less flexible. Ford did a good job with the system.

I did not get to use the track key so there was no lopey idle. The Boss Mustang had an idle as smooth as a Toyota Camry and an exhaust note that made me wonder why it even has a stereo :)

Great write-ups Ken. There must be something going on with the V, I test drove one last summer so it's beeen a while, but my impression was exactly the opposite of yours. I thought it had a big push early, but it felt weird because there was no ramp up of acceleration through the PRMs like I was used to with the 6.1, and actually the 6.4 feels the same way. Heroic thrust down low, way more than the 6.1, but it feels about the same as the 6.1 as you sweep through the top of the tach.

While I haven't driven a Boss 302, I have driven a 5.0 track pack and I was pretty impressed with the acceleration and chasis feel. My wife is strong anti-Mustang, otherwise I might have one by now LOL She told me to get a Challenger, that's what I'm leaning towards. It's got that "dream car" stigma for me :)
The more I think about it, the more I'm starting to think that something was wrong with the CTS-V. I'm also wondering if one of the employees there has been driving it and putting crappy 89 octane fuel in it. Thottle response was weak at tip-in, and it just didn't feel like I expected it would. I thought it would have a stronger punch than my SRT8 from any speed. I will either go back and retest a new CTS-V or take the Camaro ZL1 for a test drive instead. Either way, I want more seat time. I know the butt dyno is highly inaccurate, but I do know how my SRT8 feels, and after driving the CTS-V, I felt let down. Another disappointment was the exhaust note. From inside the car, I could hear the supercharger more than the exhaust at full throttle.

I'm also going to check out the Challenger or possibly the Charger or 300 SRT. I'm not finished with my test drives yet!

It's funny that your wife is interested in cars and doesn't like the Mustang. My wife has zero interest or opinion on any car. She likes boring cars though. She would be happy if I bought a Toyota Camry LOL. I'm sure she will roll her eyes if I get a Mustang, but she really won't care.

It think it's just the smaller and lighter feel of the Boss Mustang that made it so much fun. The Boss was very well balanced and nimble and I believe the 373 gears gave it a bigger punch than the power/torque numbers would suggest. It really makes me wonder what the 662 hp Shelby will feel like. I suspect it will be a bit intimidating at first.
 

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I've pretty much ruled out any kind of serious modifications (like aftermarket supercharger) to any car that I plan to rely on and drive on daily basis. I know it can be done, but there is always a risk, and I've got lots of reasons (based on personal experience) to have little confidence in aftermarket parts and speed shops. I also don't want to be stuck driving around in a POS rental car while my car is being repaired. My car has about 60K miles on it, and it really scares me to think of what could happen as a result of me modding it.

You pretty much summed up my exact thoughts with your last paragraph. Take the money I get for my car (and the savings from modding it into something more), come up with a nice down payment (which I already have), and get something that's ready to go without needing much of anything - plus I have a warranty and peace of mind.
Ken, this is exactly why I bought the SRT8. The quest was for exactly what you want, a car that needs no mods to please me. Modded up cars can and do commonly suffer from aging issues as no one sweats the details like an OEM. I have too many vehicles and not enough time for all of them. My DD will not be some tarted up hot rod with pieces falling off and needing constant fiddling.

It sure is a great time to be buying, though. Keep us in the loop so we may all live vicariously through you!
 
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