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2011 Ford Mustang: BMW M3 Is Put On Notice

If you were to ask anyone who knows me they’ll tell you that I never really like most vehicles. I always find something wrong with any of them. The best example I have goes back six years ago when I bought a 2004 Mustang Cobra convertible. It had all the horsepower one could ever want, independent rear suspension etc. but looked like it had been put together with duct tape and silly putty. It had loose screws, leaks, and an orchestra of squeaks and rattles. It’s amazing what six years has done for the Mustang. I must confess, I have been smiling more during the past week than I can recently remember and that says a lot about the 2011 Mustang GT and how much I like it. Let me explain…

The 2011 Mustang GT is by far, the best bargain available in North America today. The Mustang GT offers Porsche 911 performance starting at one third of the price. Corvette? Yup, that too. Let’s add two more seats, 0-60 MPH in under 4.5 seconds, braking performance that rivals super cars, and the best V8 sound ever to come out of a Detroit manufacturer to the equation. Quite simply, this is perfection available at the bargain price of just a hair under $30,000. 0-60 MPH times have been clocked at 4.3 seconds and can come back down in 103 feet, besting the Nissan GT-R. With an interior that offers up Microsoft Sync, upgraded soft-touch materials, and new road noise dampening materials so grandma doesn’t have to turn down her hearing aid. Ford has really raised the bar with the 2011 Mustang GT.
Besides my face hurting from the smiles my ears were also close to bleeding from the Shaker 500 stereo with “Rollin’ in my 5.0” blasting. It sounds better than I remember but I’ll be honest, I haven’t wanted to listen to music. I quickly became addicted to the V8 soundtrack being piped into the cabin. Ford conjured up a tube that leads into the cabin, enhancing the air intake music the 5.0L V8 bellows out. It sounds just right. That new 5.0L V8 is a new powertrain for 2011 GTs. It serves up a mighty 412 horsepower and 390 lb-ft of tire smoking torque. The 255/40ZR-19 inch tires probably shouldn’t be chewed too often with that torque since they cost a cool $365 each from the Tire Rack to replace. Burn wisely. Those Italian rubbers are wrapped around gorgeous 19″ wheels with a smoked finish to them. The test vehicle Ford provided had the optional Brembo brake package with rotors that are as big as pizza pies. Seriously, why spend another $18,000 for the GT500? Suddenly the 2011 Mustang GT makes the GT500, BMW M3, and Camaro SS seem irrelevant.
Ford made a number of changes for the 2011 ‘Stang. The rear axle has been modified and doesn’t hop like it used to under launch conditions and it is possible to squeal the tires at 70 MPH going from 3rd to 4th gear. The Track Pack from the 2010 Mustang is gone. Ford took all of those goodies from the Track Pack and made them standard except for the Brembos which are optional. There is an all-new electric power steering system that I can honestly say is the first such system where I actually forgot it was electric. Too often these systems lack any type of feedback and feel floaty with a real dead spot when they are on center. Not so on the 2011 GT. Our test car featured the standard six-speed manual transmission. It was refreshing to drive a new vehicle where development dollars went into the manual transmission. It seems most are neglected these days due to low sales volumes resulting in being more of a chore than a treat to drive. I remember my 2004 Cobra clutch made my left leg look like I could bench 250 lbs with it. The GT’s clutch has perfect engagement and is easily tolerable in stop-and-go traffic. There will be no need to invest in an aftermarket Hurst shifter for the 2011 GT. This six-speed manual has very precise and short throws. It would be wrong to call them throws now that I think about it. It’s “snick-snick” from gear to gear and can easily play in the same sandbox as the Japanese and German six-speed manual transmissions.
I always hated the Fox body Mustangs where people changed the taillights to the sequential type. I thought it looked oh-so-not-classy. Then I laid my eyes on the 2011 Mustang with LED illuminated sequential taillights. I could watch almost every car behind me point to them as I changed lanes. They are so beautiful you will make sure you use your turn signals while changing lanes at every opportunity. If people weren’t pointing at the taillights it might have been the new 5.0 badge on the fenders or the Grabber Blue paint. This color looks like it belongs on the Vegas strip but it actually received a lot of compliments. If you like to text (becoming a social no-no) or pick foreign objects from your nose while driving, a Grabber Blue 2011 Mustang GT 5.0L isn’t the car for you. You are going to get looks from every man, woman, and child. While sitting at a red light every other driver and passenger will be looking at you. Take care of your embarrassing habits before leaving the house.
The EPA claims 26 MPG on the highway with the do-it-yourself transmission. The best I could squeeze out was 21. I can’t tell you what my city mileage was because Green Peace might be reading this. The problem is that the V8 sound becomes instantly addictive and you need to hear it as you leave every red light. This addiction illuminates the gas light sooner than it should, causing Prius drivers everywhere to shun my driving style. I still find 21 MPG to be respectable since in 2004 I had to pay a gas guzzler tax on the Cobra and I had 390 HP and 390 lb-ft of torque. The MPG were usually in the single digits on the Cobra so I am happy with the 2011 GT’s showing of 21 MPG.
For decades the Pony wars have been based on horsepower. The 2011 Mustang GT may not have won the war but with a lower curb weight than the SS and SRT8, great axle ratios, and serious V8 power it now forces you to ponder if you really need any more power beyond 412 HP. With 412 HP you’re up to highway speeds faster than it took to read this sentence. If the Mustang GT was any faster would you even notice? Probably not. The only thing missing from the 2011 Mustang are side curtain airbags but I guess that just adds to the retro feel. So just make your way over to your local dealer and take one for a spin to see what I mean.

1 Comment

  • Eli Ruden| October 20, 2010 at 9:25 pm

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