It's easy to get jaded here in 5.0&SF land, as we get thrown the keys of some serious hardware. Whether it's Ford's latest Mustang offering or an insane King of the Street car, we are immersed in high-performance Mustangs. Sometimes, however, it's the simple cars that really leave an impression. Such is the case with Steeda's first effort at a turnkey '11 Mustang GT-the Steeda Sport.
Starting with a stock Mustang GT, the hardware experts at Steeda thumbed through their own catalog and chose a mixture of appearance, handling, and performance parts. After choosing carefully, they created a vehicle that expounds on the strengths of the stock Mustang without taking it too far up market in price or denigrating its driveability in any way. It's an entry-level car in terms of intent and cost, but its performance belies those characteristics.
Inside, the Steeda Sport is...
Inside, the Steeda Sport is factory stock with the exception of the Steeda floor mats and the optional Steeda Tri-Ax shifter hiding under the shift boot.
Unfortunately, the early part of my trip home from Georgia was plagued by constant rain, but as soon as I found a lonely piece of dry pavement, I dropped the hammer and the beautiful music of the Steeda cold-air induction piped its way along the Induction Sound Tube and filled the cabin. This car loves to rev, even in stock form, but slightly tuned up it comes alive from the midrange and rocks all the way to the limiter. After throwing the keys to Associate Editor Johnson, he could only shake his head and wish his Cobra was nearly this quick.
It's not rocking the full...
It's not rocking the full G-Trac suspension, but the Steeda Sport does ride on, naturally, Steeda's Sport springs. They dampen the chassis roll a bit, and, more importantly, bring the stock Mustang's stilted ride height down to earth.
Perhaps the only downside of the sonic rpm rush emanating from the front of the cabin was the lack of balance from the rear of the car. That's because the Sport's exhaust system is factory stock from Tri-Y to tailpipe. As impressive as this makes the car's performance, the mere addition of a pair of throaty mufflers would have made the car's persona complete. However, Steeda was trying to keep the price of the package down, and our ride already featured non-standard options like the strut-tower brace and Tri-Ax shifter. I get it, but I'd order mine with mufflers.
Steeda's trademark Sidewinder...
Steeda's trademark Sidewinder graphics adorn hood and flanks of the Steeda Sport. This fetching contrast of silver and black tugs at the heartstrings of your Raiders-fan-in-chief.
Rowing the six-speed with the hastened throw of the optional Tri-Ax made getting to 7,000 rpm all the more fun, and the Steeda Sport springs reduced the body roll when I attacked my favorite on-ramps and off-ramps. Even before officially testing the car, I knew it was fast and powerful, but I didn't need test numbers to know the Sport is lots of fun.
So, all told Steeda's car was a hit. It's a great base package that provides more fun than its price might convey.
On The Dyno
As is standard practice these days, we wanted to find out what the Steeda Sport was throwing down to the tire. To get those numbers, we took a nice drive over to VMP Tuning (www.vmptuning.com) in Deltona, Florida, to run the car on Justin Starkey's in-house Dynojet (www.dynojet.com) chassis dyno. The results were quite impressive-especially for a car with just a cold-air intake and a tune. The car put down just shy of 400 rear-wheel horsepower and 385-plus lb-ft of torque. Obviously the Steeda CAI and tune are doing some work, but with over 3,500 miles on the Sport's odo, we have to think that Coyotes really start to roam free when they're broken in a bit. Imagine what this car would put down with a full exhaust on board!
To satisfy our curiosity,...
To satisfy our curiosity, we ran the Steeda Sport with the hood up, which is standard dyno practice. Then we let it cool and ran it again with the hood closed. The closed underhood environment's head cost a few horsepower, but not many. That shows the Steeda heat shield seals off the filter pretty well.
We try to run charts and graphs...
We try to run charts and graphs so you can get a good idea of the power trends across the whole powerband, but the graphs always show those peak numbers that we all love because they show every point of data, not just the neat increments we can show in our charts.
|Hood Up||Hood Down||Difference|
On The DragStrip
When the sad time arrived that we had to return the Sport to its rightful owners, we made the trek back up to the Steeda Valdosta campus. However, the fun didn't end right away. After a brief pit stop in the shop, where the front sway bar was disconnected and Nitto NT05R drag radials replaced the street-going NT05s, we headed over the South Georgia Motorsports Park to see what was what.
I deferred to Steeda's in-house hotshoe for the real passes. Somebody has to take the pictures after all, and Scott clearly knew how to get the best out the car. He clicked of a bracket-consistent (five out of the six passes were all within 0.046 of each other) series of 12.teens that were painfully close to the 11s, but it just wasn't to be that night. As is typical, his first pass-a 12.14 at 115.73-was his best pass.
They say it's the little things...
They say it's the little things that always get you, and just the simple addition of Steeda's Rear Aerodynamic Wing really improves the Sport's backside view.
Once Scott had given his best effort, I jumped behind the wheel to see what the fuss was all about. After heating up the Nittos, I staged at 4,000 rpm and dropped the hammer. Those NT05Rs flat out hook, and you could probably see my grin from the stands as I shifted the high-winding Coyote at 7,000 rpm. I only managed a 12.54 at 113 on my first hit, but it sure felt great. On my second pass, I launched a bit higher and it was feeling good-till I missed a gear. However, what I learned on the first pass is that the car needed to go into Fifth just before the stripe, as the limiter was set at 7,300 rpm in the Steeda tune. I suggested that Scott raise the limiter and see if he could get the sport into the naturally aspirated Promised Land.
A couple weeks later Scott headed back to SGMP with a revised tune taking the limiter up to 7,600 rpm. "The first pass was an OK but promising 12.17 with a 1.78 short. Well, with that short time, I knew we had a 12.0 in the car," Scott explained. "I let it cool for only about 20 minutes and went right back in line. Bam! (It ran) an 11.969 at 115.18 with a 1.724 short (best short I've had with this car). I shifted it at 7,400 and sung it through the traps right at 7,600, where it would just clip the rev limiter at the stripe."
This car is clearly impressive. I witnessed Scott beating up on GT500s with ease in this NA 5.0, and one guy with a Neon even asked if the car had nitrous on it because it pulls so hard on the top end. Nope, the Sport is all natural, and lots of fun.
5.0 Tech Specs
Engine And Drivetrain
Coyote 5.0 aluminum
Forged-steel, fully counterweighted, induction-hardened
Hypereutectic, short-skirt, flat-top w/four equal valve reliefs; moly friction-reducing coating; oil-jet cooled
DOHC, four camshafts, independently adjustable timing
Aluminum, four valves per cylinder
Composite shell-welded with runner pack w/Steeda cold-air induction
Sequential mechanical returnless
Stainless steel tubular headers
Getrag MT82 six-speed manual
8.8-inch w/3.73 gears
Copperhead PCM with Steeda/SCT tune
High-output coil-on plug
Suspension And Chassis
13.2-in vented discs, twin-piston 43mm floating aluminum calipers
Steeda Spyder, 20×9.5-in
Nitto NT05, 275/35-20
11.8-in, vented discs; single-piston, 43mm floating-iron calipers
Steeda Spyder, 20×9.5-in
Nitto NT05, 275/35-20