While the 8-cylinder FordMustang GT captures most of the limelight,the big news for the American pony car in 2011 is found under the hoodof the standard model. The automaker has replaced the venerableiron-block 4.0-liter V-6 engine with an all-new, aluminum-block3.7-liter V-6. Assembled in Cleveland, Ohio, the all-new V-6 is ratedat 305 horsepower at 6500 rpm and 280 lb.-ft. of torque at 4250 rpm(for comparison, the outgoing V-6 was rated at 210 horsepower and 240lb.-ft. of torque).
The new engine features modern technology including variable valvetiming, high-energy coil-on-plug ignition system, composite upper andlower intake manifolds, and a valvetrain that uses polished componentsto reduce internal friction, Fordsays. In addition, it comes with a7000-rpm redline, cold-air induction, dual exhaust, and 10,000-mile oilservice intervals (thanks to an aluminum deep-sump oil pan). Improvingperformance even further, all 6-cylinder models receive a standardlimited-slip differential, and a 2.73 rear axle ratio. The 2011 MustangV-6 is expected to get 18 mpg city/29 mpg highway with the manualtransmission and 19 mpg city/30 mpg highway with the automatic, saysFord.
The 6-cylindermodel benefits from several other enhancements for 2011.The exterior improvements include a new front fascia, revised underbodyshields, rear-wheel tire spats, a taller rear air dam, and a new reardecklid seal designed to help improve aerodynamic airflow around thevehicle, according to Ford. New 19-inch alloy wheels, shod withperformance tires, are available on the V-6 models. Inside the cabin, anew gauge cluster features a 160-mph speedometer and an 8000-rpmtachometer (redline is 7000 rpm). There is also increased soundinsulation, new door seals, and improved liners in the wheel wells tolimit cabin noise, Ford says. New colors for 2011 include Yellow Blaze,Race Red and Ingot Silver.
Ford is offering an optional Performance package with the V-6 engine.The equipment includes firmer suspension tuning including a strut towerbrace, a lower 3.31 rear-axle ratio, and unique 19-inch alloy wheelswearing high-performance Pirelli tires. In addition, the stabilitycontrol has been recalibrated to allow more spirited driving before itactivates, according to the company.
The 6-cylinder segment where the Mustang V-6 findsitself competing isvery crowded. Its domestic challengers include the ChevroletCamaro(3.6-liter V-6) and the Dodge Challenger V-6 (3.5-liter V-6), while itsimport competition includes the Nissan 370Z (3.7-liter V-6) and theHyundaiGenesis Coupe (3.8-liter V-6). Each of those manufacturersoffers a slightly different approach, whether it is retro styling,track-oriented sport, or touring luxury. With the Performancepackage-equipped Mustang, Ford is targeting the enthusiast.
On the road, the sportiest of Mustang V-6 variants accelerates to 60mph in just over 5 seconds, according to Ford-right where it needs tobe in its competitive field.
The changes Ford has made to the Mustang (an all-new V-6 engine,cosmetic enhancements, and the Performance package) are arguably themost significant-and welcomed-in decades.