A Hot Mustang for those living Down Under

Once you see it, you can’t quite unsee it and for all the good reasons. This is the Ford Mustang R-Spec, a GT-based limited-edition variant built in RHD only for the Australian market that features a plethora of Ford Performance parts, a Roush supercharger, and an active exhaust. That makes it the first supercharged Mustang to be sold through Ford dealers. With all the goodies that have been crammed in the R-Spec, power goes all the way up to 700 horsepower and 610 pound-feet of torque or about 170 horsepower and 180 torques over the Mustang Shelby GT350. At $67,500 in Oz, this could just be a great bang for the buck if you can get your hands on one of the 500 examples that will be made.

It’s been five years since Australian Blue Oval fans have been mourning the loss of Ford Performance Vehicles (FPV), Ford Australia’s division that used to turn around the really quick Fords at the antipodes. While nothing can replace a Falcon with all of FPV’s go-fast features added to it, the R-Spec Mustang is a nice addition to the sports car’s lineup in Australia where, until now, all you had to choose from when it came to ’special’ Mustangs was the Bullitt - and only 700 of those have been made for the 2019 MY (the R-Spec is part of the 2020 MY Mustang lineup).

What Makes the 2020 Ford Mustang R-Spec Special?

2020 Ford Mustang R-Spec Exterior
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Oftentimes, the Mustang acts as a statement about its owner. And if you buy an R-Spec Mustang, especially in the Grabber Lime gleam-in-the-dark color you see here, you’re going to make quite a statement out there. The car stands on its own two feet as a more powerful version of the 5.0-liter V-8-engined GT that’s the result of a collaboration between Herrod Performance, the biggest distributor of Ford Performance parts in Australia and anywhere in the world but for North America, and Ford. That makes the R-Spec a genuine Ford product that can be bought through a Ford dealer with a five-year warranty without a limit on the miles you cover in this period. It’s also not exempt from the Ford Service Benefits program, just like your run-of-the-mill Focus or Mondeo.

Now, we know that when you picture a ’green Mustang,’ what you probably have in mind is a Highland Green Bullitt ’Stang, but, arguably, the lime green R-Spec makes an even bigger impression on the average passersby.

The color is the first thing that sets this special edition apart from a normal Mustang GT but, if you don't like all the attention you may be getting, you can also get the R-Spec in orange, white or blue.

The stripes, however, are there to stay. Happily, though, there’s a bevy of visual changes besides the custom paint job.

2020 Ford Mustang R-Spec Exterior
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In the front, the R-Spec features the divided grille features a black Mustang logo atop the equally black mesh. The black indicator surrounds, black mesh in the lower inlet, and the lip spoiler below the edge of the front bumper are all typical GT elements, but that lower inlet in the valance is bigger. The hood is stock, but the tips of the rearward-facing vents are painted in black to complement the triple-element stripe that runs the length of the body but ends at the top of the big grille in the front.

Viewed from the side, the R-Spec stands out thanks to its curving black striping that starts from the 5.0 logo aft of the front wheel arches and extends all the way back above the rocker panels and black side skirts across the car’s wheelbase and then, behind the rear wheels on the rear overhangs. The rims themselves are Y-spoked 19-inch Ford Performance alloys painted black, hugged by Michelin Pilot Sport 4S rubber. The exterior rear-view mirror housing is also blacked out.

2020 Ford Mustang R-Spec Exterior
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In the back, the first thing that springs into view is the fixed rear wing.

Not nearly as big as its brothers fitted to either the GT350 or the GT500, it’s still different from the wing on the standard Mustang GT. Below the wing, the smoked center panel features the special R-Spec logo in black lettering, which makes it hard for people to see that you’re not driving just any other Mustang. The black surround of the rear three-piece taillights is standard on any GT, as is the quad exhaust.

Overall, the Mustang R-Spec is a noticeable departure from the GT only if you order it in Grabber Lime as the black rims and other blacked-out details are hardly noticeable given the GT’s already out-there appearance without any addons. You can say Ford could’ve put a little more effort into making the R-Spec a tad more unique, but, at least, the endless oomph makes up for the not-so-exciting exterior.

2020 Ford Mustang R-Spec Interior
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But, before we talk about the things that make the Mustang R-Spec go at a significant rate of speed, as well as corner and stop proficiently, let’s take a look inside. You’ll take a seat in the standard GT leather-wrapped bucket seats facing the three-spoke steering wheel and the 12.4-inch digital instrument cluster behind it that’s there for you to toggle through the R-Spec’s drive modes and steering modes (and more, of course). The active exhaust, updated for a meatier sound and a few droplets of added performance, can also be fiddled with via options on the display, as well as the Launch Control function that adds a rev marker on the digital tachometer to let you know when to shift up.

Besides the digital instrument cluster, there's also the 8.0-inch display on the center console below the three air vents placed at the top of the dashboard.

The SYNC 32 system that’s running in all 2020 MY Mustangs is Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatible, and it can also operate Spotify as well as other apps. The list of up-market features inside the R-Spec is bookended by the Bang & Olufsen Play nine-speaker audio system, which includes a sub-woofer.

2020 Ford Mustang R-Spec Drivetrain
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The party piece of the 2020 Mustang R-Spec is the 2.65-liter Ford Performance roots positive displacement supercharger with up to 12 psi of boost. Strapped to the third-gen 5.0-liter Coyote V-8, it unlocks more power without losing points in the refinement section. An all-aluminum intercooler and full-face radiator work with the supercharger. With the supercharger and the Herrod active exhaust - that features the ’Quiet,’ ’Normal,’ ’Sport,’ and ’Race Track’ modes, the R-Spec brings to the table 700 horsepower and 610 pound-feet of twist.

For comparison’s sake, a bone-stock GT’s Coyote V-8 sans supercharger puts out 460 horsepower at 7,000 rpm and 420 torques at 6,200 rpm.

In fact, with 700 horsepower, the Mustang R-Spec is more powerful than all Mustangs available Stateside but for the 760 horsepower GT500.

It trumps the next powerful U.S. Mustang, the GT350R, by 173 horsepower while a Bullitt Mustang puts out just 480 horsepower. It’s noteworthy that the GT500, the only other Mustang that features a supercharger from the factory, delivers 625 pound-feet of torque, just 15 more than the R-Spec while no other U.S. Mustang can boast with more than 429 pound-feet (for both the GT350 and the GT350R powered by the 5.2-liter V-8).

"The R-Spec has to be great to drive, as well as delivering the added power and creaminess of the supercharger – it’s what customers expect, and what we have worked on as a team to deliver," said Rob Herrod, Managing Director of Herrod Performance. To keep all that power in check, the R-Spec comes with Ford Performance springs that lower the ride height by almost 0.8 inches. The springs are part of the clever MagneRide suspension that actively adjusts damping levels as you drive along. Ford Performance stabilizer bars at both ends are part of the package, as well. The gearbox is the same as in any other GT, namely the traditional six-speed manual.

2020 Ford Mustang R-Spec Exterior
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What Herrod Performance and Ford Australia have forgotten to tell us is how fast the GT has become in R-Spec trim. We know that a GT350 needs 4.1 seconds to reach 60 mph from a standing start, 0.2 seconds off the time recorded by the lighter GT350R. A GT500 should pull the 0-60 mph sprint off in just 3.5 seconds, considering it’s able to complete the 0-100-0 (in mph!) run in scarcely believable 10.6 seconds, quicker than a race-bred McLaren F1 LM.

We also think the GT500 will top out at about 186 mph limited by the aerodynamic drag but still at least six mph faster than the GT350R.

The R-Spec's got a less aggressive aerodynamic package suggesting it could reach at least 180 mph given enough road. 0-60 mph should also be around or below the 3.9-second benchmark put by the GT350R.

Yes, the R-Spec is as heavy as the 4,400-pound GT Fastback or, in other words, some 740 pounds heavier than the GT350R but, let’s not forget, Ford told us the stock GT can also go from naught to 60 mph in under 4 seconds and, if that’s a stretch, then the R-Spec is the more likely candidate to do it for real.

2020 Ford Mustang R-Spec Exterior
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Now, let’s talk money. In the U.S., a GT Fastback starts at just $35,630, followed by the $39,610 GT Premium Fastback and the $47,810. All of these get an EPA-estimated EPA-Est. 15 mpg City and 25 mpg Highway. The R-Spec is more expensive than all three and, most likely, does worse in the fuel efficiency department. In fact, at $67,500 (AUD 99,980), the R-Spec blows past the $60,330 Mustang Shelby GT350, becoming the third most expensive Mustang available via Ford dealerships.

It's, thus, the most expensive Ford available in Australia, and you only need to add $5,400 over the MSRP of an R-Spec to bag a GT500 without any optional extras on it.

In light of all this, it may seem like the R-Spec is not worthy, but let’s look at it from the viewpoint of an Australian. Knowing that Ford said, through the voice of Ford Performance Marketing Manager Jim Ownes, that the GT500 will only be sold in North America, Mexico, and the Middle East, the R-Spec becomes appealing. Sure, Ford only officially mentioned Europe as a ’no-go’ area for the GT500, and no words have been uttered about the Australian market. But, then again, Ownes didn’t mention the continent at the antipodes in his rundown of markets when talking to R&T, so we’d say the R-Spec may remain the only 700 horsepower ’Stang sold officially there for the years to come. That means if you’re an Australian Ford Mustang fan, go get in line for an R-Spec.

2020 Ford Mustang R-Spec Exterior
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Oh, and let’s not forget that Australian special edition Mustangs are few and far between. The last one that caught our eye, namely the 2017 Tickford Bathurst ’77 edition wasn’t sold through Ford dealers.

2020 Ford Mustang R-Spec specifications
Engine Naturally Aspirated 5.0-liter Coyote V-8 with a 2.65-liter roots supercharger with intercoolers and full-face radiator
Compression ratio 12.0:1
Output 700 horsepower
Torque 610 pound-feet of torque
Gearbox Six-speed manual
Suspension Double-ball-joint MacPherson strut with Ford Performance stabilizer bar and springs in the front and Integral-link independent with Ford Performance springs and stabilizer bar in the rear
Steering Selectable-effort electric power-assisted
Performance (not official) 0-60 mph 3.9 seconds
Top speed 180 mph
Weight 4,380 pounds
Michael Fira
Associate Editor and Motorsport Expert - fira@topspeed.com
Mihai Fira started out writing about long-distance racing like the famous 24 Hours of Le Mans. As the years went by, his area of interest grew wider and wider and he ever branched beyond the usual confines of an automotive writer. However, his heart is still close to anything car-related and he's most at home retelling the story of some long-since-forgotten moment from the history of auto racing. He'll also take time to explain why the cars of the '60s and '70s are more fascinating than anything on the road today.  Read More
About the author

Australian-Exclusive Supercharged Ford Mustang R-SPEC To Arrive In Local Showrooms In Early 2020

The first Mustang to be sold through Ford dealerships with a supercharger, the Mustang R-SPEC offers a 5.0L V8 upgraded with Ford Performance powertrain components, suspension upgrades and specific Active Exhaust system

Developed through a collaboration with Herrod Performance as a second-stage manufacturer, the Ford Mustang R-SPEC is a special edition Fastback using genuine Ford Performance Parts

Herrod Performance is the largest distributor of Ford Performance Parts outside of North America, and has a strong track record of supply, fitment, testing and validation of Ford vehicles and componentry with high performance applications
Mustang R-SPEC includes a five-year/unlimited kilometre warranty backed by Ford and Herrod, together with Ford Service Benefits, which include Service Loan Car Program, Auto Club Membership including roadside assistance, and SYNC 3 sat-nav map updates
SYDNEY, 9 October, 2019 – Ford Mustang enthusiasts in Australia can look forward to the latest local edition of the world’s best-selling sport coupe, as Ford introduces the Mustang R-SPEC to dealerships across Australia from early 2020. The special-edition model, with a strictly limited run of 500 units, is the result of a collaboration between Ford Australia and Herrod Performance, and brings Australian customers a Ford dealer network-backed, supercharged Mustang for the first time in history. Distinguished by a series of exterior design and interior elements, each Mustang R-SPEC will be individually numbered and badged. The model will be available for pre-order from October 10, with a Recommended Manufacturer List Price (MLP) of $99,9801.

“We have been working hard with Herrod Performance to deliver a supercharged Mustang to Australian customers,” said Kay Hart, President and CEO, Ford Australia and New Zealand. “Now, working with Herrod Performance, we’ve been able to bring this special edition Mustang to Australian customers through our extensive dealership network, and with the peace-of-mind of five-year, unlimited kilometre warranties backed by Ford and Herrod.”

Available exclusively in the Fastback body with a 6-speed manual, the Mustang R-SPEC will be available nationally at Ford dealerships, and will deliver customers an individually-numbered, special edition Mustang with unique exterior treatments as well as a mechanical package that puts driving at the heart of its mantra. The supercharged R-SPEC was developed through a collaboration with Herrod Performance as a second-stage manufacturer. It will be added to the Ford Mustang line-up going in to 2020, bringing more choice, more power and more Mustang to Australian buyers. Completing the Mustang 2020 line-up are the turbocharged Mustang 2.3L High Performance and naturally-aspirated 5.0-litre GT model.

“Herrod Performance is so proud to be able to work with Ford on this special collaboration, bringing a unique Mustang R-SPEC equipped with genuine Ford Performance Parts, and honed with the expertise of both Ford Australia and Herrod Performance teams,” said Rob Herrod, Managing Director, Herrod Performance.

The R-SPEC customer will benefit from Ford’s Australia-wide dealer network, along with Ford Service Benefits that includes the Service Loan Car Program, Auto Club Membership, including Roadside Assistance, SYNC 32 infotainment system, including sat-nav map updates. Ford is also offering the $299* maximum service price payable for a standard A scheduled service for up to 24 months or 40,000kms (whichever comes first) at participating Ford Dealers.3

“The Mustang R-SPEC is a vehicle that we’re immensely proud to deliver to enthusiasts,” said Ford’s R-SPEC program lead, Anna Hercan. “We’re even happier to deliver an ownership experience that brings the peace-of-mind and assurance of our dealer network, so that they can customise, own and enjoy this special edition Mustang with confidence.”

Mustang R-SPEC: A Collaboration with Herrod Performance

The 2020 Mustang R-SPEC is a collaboration between Herrod Performance and Ford in Australia. The development work and program has seen considerable testing and validation at Ford’s You Yangs Proving Ground, with exterior design work carried out at the Broadmeadows-based design studio.

“The R-SPEC has to stand out visually, even at a standstill,” said Ford designer Dave Dewitt, who led the exterior enhancement package. “That starts with the stance, and the unique 19-inch Ford Performance alloy wheels combined with the Ford Performance suspension package. When we combine these functional upgrades with the unique design cues, the result is a meaner more aggressive attitude and more flattering silhouette, the car just looks ready to go!”

“The MY2020 colour palette lends itself superbly to the black treatment, but the details go beyond this. While the alloys and side-stripes – which hark back to the previous R-SPEC offered here in 2014 – are matte finished, the off-set striping, mirror caps and the rear spoiler have been given a gloss treatment to add more visual impact to the changes.” The exclusive rear spoiler is balanced at the front of the car, where a black Pony badge spearheads the R-SPEC’s impact. A unique lower front valence with larger air intake and black surrounds for the LED daytime running lights lead into the Over-The-Top stripes.

The cockpit of the Mustang R-SPEC features the full-suite of MY2020 Mustang conveniences and innovations. Sitting in the standard leather-trimmed Mustang sports seats behind the classic three-spoke sports steering wheel, the 12.4-inch digital instrument cluster is fully customisable, and can be set to change in tandem or independently of the Mustang R-SPEC’s selectable drive and separate steering modes.

The digital instrumentation can also be used to set the Active Exhaust, which has been upgraded over the standard Mustang GT’s quad-tipped unit for greater performance and a distinct version of that signature Mustang V8 rumble. In addition, the standard Launch Control function can be accessed via the digital display, enabling a rev-point to be set and marked on the digital tachometer.

All MY2020 Mustangs include SYNC 32 with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone compatibility4 as standard, including voice-activated sat-nav and climate control functions. In addition, the 8.0-inch full-colour touchscreen also hosts compatible smartphone apps such as Spotify, which enables owners to take full advantage of the B&O Play nine-speaker audio system, which includes a sub-woofer.

Standard Driver Assist Technology on the Mustang R-SPEC includes Autonomous Emergency Braking with Pedestrian Detection, as well as Lane Departure Warning with Lane Keep Assist, Adaptive Cruise Control and self-levelling headlights5.

LOCAL HERO: The Supercharged Mustang for Australia

The Mustang R-SPEC is the most powerful Mustang to be offered through Ford dealerships in Australia, and is tailored to the local enthusiast market. The supercharged model now complements the line-up, which offers customers a full range of turbocharged, naturally-aspirated and supercharged models, each with unique treatments and identities.

The Mustang R-SPEC uses a Ford Performance roots-type positive displacement supercharger, which provides greater, smoother throttle response, drivability and engagement for a potent yet refined, comfortable daily-driver characteristics.

With a 2.65-litre capacity and 12PSI of boost, it enables more power throughout the rev range with reduced noise and vibration for greater refinement and comfort. The system includes an aluminium high efficiency intercooler and full-face radiator, fed by the larger front air intake specific to R-SPEC.

Adding to the experience, a unique Herrod Performance exhaust has been fitted, ensuring the Mustang’s V8 soundtrack can be deployed through the Active Exhaust settings, with Quiet, Normal, Sport and Race Track modes selectable via the steering wheel mounted buttons. Like the Mustang GT, the Quiet mode on R-SPEC can be set for specific times of day via the digital instrument cluster.

“We’ve worked together to ensure that we have a consistent product that delivers a driving experience that meets the expectations of a factory-delivered product,” said Rob Herrod. “The R-SPEC has to be great to drive, as well as delivering the added power and creaminess of the supercharger – it’s what customers expect, and what we have worked on as a team to deliver.”

Power from the third-generation Coyote V8 has increased beyond the standard Mustang GT’s 339kW, and will surpass the 345kW output of the Mustang BULLITT to take the crown as the most potent Mustang offered by Ford in Australia. Despite this, the R-SPEC provides a greater power delivery yet maintains the user-friendliness and liveability of Mustang.

The supercharger has been subjected to Ford Performance’s punishing durability and testing regimes, which have enabled it to be fully supported by a five-year unlimited kilometre Herrod Performance warranty. This complements Ford’s five-year unlimited kilometre warranty on the base vehicle, for customer confidence and ownership peace-of-mind.

The Mustang R-SPEC has been developed to take full advantage of the increased capability with Ford Performance components. New firmer Ford Performance springs lower the R-SPEC by 20mm compared to the regular Mustang GT, are teamed with MagneRide suspension as standard. The MagneRide system has a unique software calibration for the Vehicle Dynamics Module (VDM), which adjusts the damping rate 100 times a second, and is intelligent enough know that the R-SPEC sits lower to the road.

The handling package also sees Ford Performance adjustable stabilizer bars fitted: 37mm (+5mm) front and 25.2mm (+3mm) rear, for greater control and agility. Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tyres as standard provide three different compounds across the treadface for greater dry grip and reduced rolling resistance. The black 19-inch Ford Performance alloy wheels measure 9.5-inches at the front, and 10-inches at the rear, an increase of 0.5mm for both.

The Mustang R-SPEC will be available through Ford dealerships in early 2020.

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