MOTOR MATTERS NEW ON WHEELS BY ARV VOSS
Everyone is aware the iconic Mustang was the first American ponycar from the Ford Blue Oval works. Now, for the 2011 model year, the mighty Mustang serves up a history-making powertrain lineup.
The exterior design evolves with a more muscular, sculpted look, featuring new front and rear fascias, while managing to retain Mustang’s overall styling DNA and heritage. The interior styling has progressed as well, delivering new technology, improved craftsmanship and upgraded materials, while performance improvements include larger wheels, retuned suspension componentry and additional horsepower gleaned from race track engineering experience.
The enhanced, bolder appearance begins up front with the aggressive grille and prominent pony logo. Last year marked the first change in the logo to appear since Mustang’s introduction in 1964. Both V-6 and V-8 GT models showcase a brand-new front end sculptured unique for each model.
Ford offers Mustang in a variety of configurations, adhering to its “steed for every need” philosophy.
Choices include both Coupe and Convertible, powered by either a V-6 or a V-8. There is also a glass roof version along with several specialized options and features that provide the opportunity for owners to customize their Mustang to a more personal level.
The big story for the 2011 ponycar is the powertrain and mechanical aspects that deliver historical performance characteristics. Both the V-6 and V-8 engines represent huge strides forward in not only performance capability, but in improved fuel efficiency as well. We’ll deal here only with the tester’s V-6 side of the equation. It is a 3.7-liter 24-valve V-6 with sequential multi-port fuel injection that cranks out an impressive 305 horses and 280 lb.-ft. of torque (more than early GT V-8 models).
The V6-powered Mustang is the first car in history to ever achieve 300-plus horsepower while delivering a 30-plus mpg (31) rating. City driving yields 19 mpg.
The engine may be mated to either a manual or automatic six-speed transmission. As dictated by tradition, all Mustangs place the engine up front in a longitudinal orientation, with the transmissions gearing motive force to the rear wheels.
My test 2011 Mustang was a Coupe, powered by the 3.7-liter V-6 coupled to the optional six-speed automatic. There were no paddle shifters or manual shift gate, but it was possible to select lower gears. The base sticker price was set at $25,845 while adding: the Mustang Club of America Package; the automatic transmission; Security Package; HID headlamps; Rear View Camera; Electronics Package with Navigation; and Destination and Delivery charge, raised the final total to $32,975 before tax and license.
Driving the 2011 Mustang Coupe is a joy.
The transmission and engine are perfectly matched — one seems to complement the other. Gear steps allow near perfect rev limits, and while the V-6 exhaust note isn’t as pleasing as that of the V-8 (nor should it be), it manages to deliver a satisfactory note in its own right.
The 3.7-liter V-6 serves up healthy doses of acceleration in economical fashion. The ride quality is firm, yet compliant and comfortable, providing plenty of stability with precise handling quality, with the steering providing a positive feedback with good on-center feel. It stays flat and balanced in turns.
Interior fit and finish have been improved, with a unique and esthetically pleasing interior ambience. Noise, vibration and harshness have been minimized for a more pleasant motoring experience.
The Mustang legacy continues to march forward in the new 2011 Coupe. The goal of the Mustang team was to improve everything and to compromise nothing. In the final analysis, the venerable ponycar has grown into a more refined and capable stallion. — Arv Voss, Motor Matters
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