We already know Ford has launched the Mustang Boss 302 recently. Using a name that hasn't been used since 1970, the Boss 302 is Ford's most powerful normally aspirated Mustang to be sold to date. It has a 5.0liter V8 that makes 440bhp and should allow the Boss 302 to achieve a sub 5 second 0-60mph time. Whilst the specs of the Boss 302 are all fine and dandy, one item caught my eye. It comes with a regular ignition key and another coded ignition key to access the full performance of the Boss 302. Ford calls it the TracKey and its main purpose is to sharpen all engine responses for use during track days, or mainly during periods of showboating at the local parking lot with friends. I call it another gimmick or toy for the owners of the car. The TracKey unlocks the Powertrain Control Module which supposedly turns the Boss 302 into a competition ready track car. If you use it, the software in the PCM will adjust up to 200 parameters of the 5.0 V8 engine in order to give maximum performance. These parameters include camshaft timing, ignition timing, fueling and even throttle response. The TracKey also accesses a two stage launch control system for controlled idiot-proof track and traffic light launches. Ford says that “a skilled driver will really appreciate the benefits” as the car becomes a very focused track day special with instant throttle response and feel. Ford then concludes that the owner of the Boss 302 can then restart the car with the normal key and everything goes sensible again. IF you consider having 440bhp sensible in the first place. The thing is, why do you need an additional key to access all of this extra sportiness? Isn't a Boss Mustang supposed to be something outright sporty in the first place? This basically reminds me of the E39 BMW M5, the first in a long line of performance cars that started offering two or more 'power' settings that are driver selectable. The M5 had a 'sport' button that allowed the driver to tootle about town with less aggressive steering and throttle response. Now being an M5, why would you ever want less steering response and less throttle response? The M5 felt perfect with the sport button on and soggy with it off. I blame the E39 M5 (pictured below) for starting this trend for extra gimmickry in all present day cars. The E39 M5 was a fabulous car. But because of this little addition that somehow caught on with almost every performance car manufacturer, I have some thought of taking a sledge hammer and bashing it. Of course all this technology comes into play if you want a car to stay eco-friendly with less aggressive mapping so that it sips instead of gulps petrol. But in a performance car, a button which can switch settings between economy and power is all you need and sometimes, a button is a button too many. And a key for this is even worse. Imagine if you lost the TracKey and have to go through all the trouble of getting another one from the dealer. Wouldn't a tiny little button marked 'Track' be simpler instead of aping the 'top speed key' of the Bugatti Veyron? Ford's marketing men should realize that this new Mustang Boss 302 has more than enough heritage to stand on its own instead of having to resort to unnecessary gimmicks. Or then again, these extra keys and buttons are there to please owners who are eight years old at heart. Big Boys Toys, and the more bells and whistles, the better.
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