Monday, April 5, 2010
First Test: 2011 Ford Mustang GT Premium
Five-Point-Oh, Boy: Finally Legit, the 5.0 is Back -- and Boy Does it Pack a Punch
Since its debut in 1968, Ford's 302-cubic-inch V-8 has always displaced 4942 cubic centimeters. Or, as any engineer, mathematician, or quick-witted second-grader would tell you, 4.9 liters. Despite this fact, back in 1975 Ford began calling its 4.9-liter, 302cc V-8 a "5.0 L." Why? Well, when it comes to V-8s, bigger is better, even if it's just for perception. And, let's face it: uttering "five-point-oh" with some attitude sounds a helluva lot more imposing than saying "four-point-nine" under your breath.
Mustang GT 5.0 Engine
Well, for all those "5.0" owners who over the last five decades have felt a little embarrassed or deceitful -- and by all means to those who don't even care and simply love their 302s -- it is time to rejoice. After a 16-year hiatus, the 5.0 has returned in the 2011 Mustang GT and, yes, at 4951cc, it now officially displaces five full liters. Better yet, thanks to all-aluminum construction, twin independent variable cam timing (Ti-VCT), and a 6800-rpm redline, this don't-ever-call-me-a-4.9, 32-valve 5.0 liter cranks out 412 horsepower at 6500 rpm and 390 pound-feet of torque at 4250. (A run on the dyno at K&N Air Filters in Riverside, CA, suggests actual output to be around 435 horsepower and 404 pound-feet.)
Mustang GT Drivers View
Peruse the spec sheet of last year's GT, which came with a 4.6-liter 24-valve V-8, and the spikes are monumental -- 97 more horsepower and 65 additional pound-feet. Arguably as impressive are the bumps in fuel economy -- 17/26 versus 16/24 with a manual, 18/25 versus 17/23 with an automatic -- which can be attributed to the more efficient engine design, a four-percent improvement in aerodynamics (revised underbody and air dam, new rear-wheel tire spats and decklid seal), all-new electric power steering (zero drain from an engine-operated hydraulic setup), and fresh six-speed transmissions.
Mustang GT Rear View
Yes, that's right, the 2011 GT finally gets six forward ratios. Gone are last year's five-speed automatic and Tremec 3650 manual; in are all-new six-speed auto and manual boxes, the latter co-developed with Getrag. Naturally, our Grabber Blue test car came with the row-it-yourself, a sublime transmission that glides effortlessly and crisply -- throw in any complimentary adverb, really, and it'll apply to this gearbox -- through its gates and treats a deft left foot to an easy-to-use clutch with linear take-up and precise engagement.
Of course, in order to make a truly great powertrain there must first be a truly great power plant. Which brings me back to the 5.0. Sure the output is prodigious and the fuel economy relatively frugal, but it's the refinement, the soundtrack, and, when you want it, the muscle that make this engine so special. No doubt, buyers today will be telling their grandkids about this mill. "You think your 1.0-liter quad-turbo lithium-polymer hybrid is impressive? Hah, let me tell you about the five-point-oh in my old twenty-eleven Mustang..."
Mustang GT Cockpit
Fire up the 5.0, and it responds with the signature deep burble of a small-block Ford, quickly settling into a subdued rumble that is just audible through the new-for-'11 sound-deadening material residing on both sides of the soft-touch dash. Cruise around town or clip highway miles at 70 mph, and the 5.0 is as docile and smooth as any current American V-8. If Lincoln made a rear-drive sport sedan, this would be the motor. But stomp on the throttle, and the high-tech 302 roars to life with all the subtlety of Matt Kenseth's Sprint Cup car charging down the backstretch of Talladega. And let's just say it's not a whole lot slower, either...
Mustang GT Rear Seats
Equipped with the available 3.73 rear axle ($395), our 5.0 needed just 4.3 seconds to hit 60 and only 12.8 at 110.8 mph to knockout the quarter mile. To answer the million-dollar question: Yes, it's quicker than both the 426-horsepower Chevy Camaro SS (4.5, 12.9 at 110.7) and the 425-horse Dodge Challenger SRT-8 (4.6, 13.1 at 108.4). It's also not that far behind the 540-horse supercharged 2010 Shelby GT500, which requires 4.1 and 12.4 at 116.0. In the league of naturally aspirated muscle cars, the new Mustang GT is in a league of its own.
Mustang GT Gauges
In terms of handling, the same can be said of the GT. Both its lateral acceleration (0.94 g) and figure-eight time (25.3 seconds at 0.75 g) are superior to those of the our best SS (0.90, 25.8 at 0.80) and SRT-8 (0.87, 26.74 at 0.679). Further, the 2011 has retained the sporty, agile, and responsive sensations that we loved so much in the 2010 GT, and dialed them up a notch. Retuned springs and dampers, larger anti-roll bars, and the aforementioned electric power steering all contribute to improved dynamics. At low speeds, the steering is noticeably lighter than the previous hydraulic setup, but once speeds rise, so too does the weighting, delivering first-rate feel and feedback. Our tester was also fitted with the optional $1695 Brembo brake package (front 14.0-inch vented rotors and four-piston calipers, higher-performance stability-control tuning, and 9.0 x 19-inch alloys with 255/40 Pirelli summer tires), which provided excellent pedal feel, fade-free action, and a scant 105-foot 60-0 stopping distance.
GT Rear Camera
At $30,495 to start, the GT costs $1250 more than last year's car. Looking solely at the 97-horsepower increase, that's only $13 per pony. Our tester, which was loaded to its mane with such hefty options as the $3200 Premium package (a dressier leather-lined interior, SYNC, and an upgraded Sirius stereo), a $2340 electronics package (HD radio, dual-zone auto climate control, and nav with traffic), the $1695 Brembos, and more tallied a total of $39,750. Considering the slower, less-powerful BMW 335i Coupe starts at $43,525, a well-equipped GT Premium represents strong return on the dollar, to say the least. What's not an understatement is that the 5.0 is the fiercest and fastest Mustang GT ever. Period. Goodnight.
Mustang GT Wheel
5.0 ON THE DYNO
Ford says the 2011 Mustang 5.0 makes 412 horsepower at 6500 rpm and 390 pound-feet of torque at 4250 rpm. To check that number, we took the new 5.0 to our dyno shop of record, the research and development department at K&N Air Filters in Riverside, California. After examining the power peaks, K&N's techs suggested we use the fourth gear pulls for the 5.0-liter. Here's what we think is the most correct output figure for the new Mustang V-8:
2011 Mustang 5.0 (4th gear pull, 15% powertrain loss)
Claimed horsepower: 412 hp @ 6500 rpm
Claimed torque: 390 lb-ft @ 4250 rpm
Actual horsepower: 435 hp 6500 rpm
Actual torque: 404 lb-ft @ 4400 rpm
Mustang GT Right Side
If you can believe it, that figure puts it well over the top of both the Camaro SS and Challenger SRT-8.
Posted by Pw3680 at 3:23 PM