Couple some new power with "only" 3,500 pounds and the Performance Pack, and you get a really cool driving experience. Having lots of time in front-heavy GT500s, my impression was the latest V-6 Mustang felt so light that it seemed there was no engine underhood. Obviously that's not the case, but the car is light and responsive, and with the PP suspension, it does really well in the turns. Autocrossers will love this car.
In fact, the performance driving aspect of the Mustang intro for the V-6 was autocrossing six-cylinder Mustangs and Camaros. I'm never one to push too hard at the press launches. I don't want to be the guy that wrecks the preproduction Mustang. However, even at 7/10s I could tell the V-6 'Stang was a blast. Moreover, in my recon lap with an engineer, he proved the V-6 has the power to drift around the autocross if you have the talent to rein it in.
It may never be as cool to say you have the six instead of the eight, but the '11 Mustang is a justifiable real car that would make a fine daily driver and occasional track toy. It may also see the rebirth of a legitimate V-6 Mustang aftermarket. As impressive a feat as the creation of the new 5.0 Mustang is, this might be even more surprising.
The aftermarket is sure to attack the modern 5.0 Mustang with a fervor we haven't seen in some time. Of course, most aftermarket entities are waiting to get their hands on cars, and by the time you read this they are probably busily measuring and disassembling the first cars arriving at dealers. Naturally, Ford Racing has the inside track on developing gear for its performance parts catalog, and one of the headlining parts for the Coyote lineup is a new twin-screw supercharger configuration.
Included in the kit are the blower, intake with air-to-water intercooler, a cold-air intake, a drive system, and a ProCal tool with performance calibration. "The supercharger has been optimized to work with the new engines increased compression ratio, new fuel system, variable cam timing, and Copperhead Electronic Engine Controller," says FRPP. "The supercharger delivers substantial horsepower improvements without sacrificing engine durability, and will be 50-state legal with a CARB certification."
Along with the supercharger kit, FRPP is also developing a host of bolt-ons, including an intake, a Power Pack, a Handling Pack, and an exhaust. On the more aggressive end of the spectrum, FRPP will have a trans swap kit, a more robust short-block, CNC-ported heads, and a long-block.-Steve Turner
While I'm not spending much time on it here, Ford was extremely confident in its new Mustang, having comparable Camaros on hand for comparison testing. It goes without saying that we prefer the Mustang, but part of that testing were some impromptu eighth-mile drag passes on a repurposed airstrip.
The cars on hand were automatics. Burnouts weren't part of the program and it wasn't exactly a prepped surface, so I stuck with Sport mode and just stood on it from an idle. My best pass of three was an 8.64 at 83 and change. I managed a 9.00 in the Camaro in my only pass. Clearly it could go a bit faster too, but the Mustang feels quicker and is quicker.
I stayed around after the program to get a chance at a manual-trans car and managed an 8.63 at 84 with a 2,300-rpm launch. Now the only thing worse than my writing is my driving, so lead development engineer Shawn Carney promptly showed me the car could do better, running a 8.55 right after me. Shawn said he'd run a best of an 8.40 at 89 on that surface, and projected 12.60s from a stock '11 GT on a prepped track. With slicks and a real driver, I'd be willing to bet that 11-second '11 GTs will be the talk of the Internet. -Steve Turner
5.0 versus 5.0
As my '91 hatchback is my daily driver, I was the only journalist to drive an original Fox 5.0 to the 2011 Mustang press introduction. It provided, as you might imagine, some strong contrasts with the new car.
Obviously, the new car is far quieter and refined than the "beer can on wheels," as the Fox Mustang was once famously described by our Canadian correspondent, Dale Amy. But an unexpected attribute-the Foxes' compactness-was dramatically apparent when the valet pulled our ride up next to one of the new cars. We've always been aware the latest Mustangs were, well, substantial, but alongside our Fox, the new car is elephantine. Taller, longer, wider-with huge wheels and a small greenhouse, the current Mustang seems more like a Brinks truck when compared to the original.