2012 Ford Mustang Boss 302

FORT WORTH, Texas — With the approaching high-mileage regulations we may eventually see the end of affordable muscle cars, those rumbling V-8 ground pounders that get the blood pumping and the adrenaline flowing. But that's in the future. For the time being we are very happy to say the true unadulterated muscle lives on at the Detroit Big Three.

The latest example is the very politically incorrect 2012 Ford Mustang Boss 302. “Meet the new Boss, same as the old boss” — to steal a line from The Who’s hit song of the muscle car era when the original Boss 302 roamed the streets. The new Boss gets a leg up on the new Chevrolet Camaro with a 444 horsepower and 380 pound-feet of torque from a tuned 5.0-liter that's also found in the Mustang GT making 412 ponies. The increased horsepower, as well as numerous other hardware upgrades, gives the Mustang true smack-down performance.

Locked in a titanic struggle for sales supremacy with the Mustang, Chevrolet is slamming a supercharged V-8 making 550 horsepower into a new ZL1 edition of the Camaro. But the ZL1, which will reach showrooms later this year, is more about taking on the Mustang Shelby GT 500 that is available now with an equally potent 550-horsepower engine.

The Shelby and the ZL1 will both come in above 50 grand leaving the Boss — priced at about $41,000 including destination charge — in excellent shape to tackle the 426-horsepower Camaro SS, starting at about 35 grand.

During a morning of flogging at the Texas Motor Speedway and later on our home turf we discovered that the Boss is not only spectacular in tackling straight-line performance, but is surprisingly well balanced on the track and though the challenging twists and turns of our favorite back-road "test track."

We had to sneak up on our favorite winding road making two or three passes before we cranked up the courage to go good-grief fast. No need for high-priced German engineering. Ford has got the Europeans covered with the Boss.

To help things out in daily driving as well as weekend entertainment, the Boss comes with a few aids including a speed-sensitive electric steering system that has three settings — comfort, normal and sport — and three settings for traction and stability control — on, off and intermediate sport.

While the Boss can be your daily driver it could make a stop and go heavy traffic commute turn a bit tedious with gobs of torque under hood and only a six-speed manual available.

The Boss starts at $40,995 and is now available at dealerships.

— Jim Meachen