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Old horse, new tricks

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The 2011 Ford Mustang is no longer just a stop and go racer

By Abraham Rodriguez

Motoring Editor

For over 45 years Ford has been the driving force behind one of the most iconic sports cars ever. The Ford Mustang propelled the modern American into the high-octane world of motor sports and the automaker’s support for the brand has never faltered.

However being a big heavy muscle meant it couldn’t always keep up with the competition when they weren’t going straight. This time around things are different.

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We’ve driven one of the purest sport car incarnations in the modern era. The 2011 Ford Mustang GT compromises nothing for performance and driving experience, delivering more than just grins and soiled pants.

Ford reintroduces the 5.0 branding with a new five liter V8 engine that produces 412 horsepower and 390 lbs of torque. It’s better on gas mileage than previous generations if you can fight the urge to smash the accelerator all the way down, getting 17 miles per gallon in the city and mid 20s on the highway. These numbers are impressive when you realize it’s a 400 horsepower V8.

The new ’11 model has a lot more horsepower, but what about handling?
Ford technicians have reworked suspension designs and made drastic improvements to the Mustang, enabling it to tackle any road course or mountaintops you can throw at it.

Curved roadways aren’t even demanding and the car navigates them effortlessly, even at high speeds.

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All of this translates into an asphalt ripping machine that forces any traffic to back off. It rumbles so deep and so far that animals run in its wake, trees shake and leaves turn yellow as soon as it’s running across the woods.

It’s a big car but steering is smooth and easy. Sitting in the pilot’s chair, it took some adjustments to get used to the clutch and shifter.

The six speed manual transmission is a beast and it has to be to get all 3,700 lbs of Ford sheet metal moving. However the shifter’s gears are incredibly close together and it takes a bit of a learning curve to get used to the positioning.

Putting it into reverse requires you to move the shifter to the left and then push it down. Getting the gear layout memorized takes a bit of time because the gears are close together, but it’s only a minor set back.

The Mustang’s interior has just enough creature comforts where it’s acceptable. There’s nothing high end or on the luxury level of Lincoln, but it’s practical enough to not distract you from the performance the car offers.

[media-credit name="Abraham Rodriguez" align="alignleft" width="300"][/media-credit]A center console compartment is located on the rear of the console and opens towards the rear passenger seats, making it a little awkward when you have people sitting in the tiny rear seats.

Cup holders are located in the compartment as well as an auxiliary audio input jack and a USB plug for any music players. It’s a cool little detail that eliminates the clutter modern gadgets bring.

In our test model the dashboard and center console bezel both sported a gunmetal look that is reflected on the center gauges and steering wheel, but interior options vary from car to car.

Stereo controls and SYNC buttons are mounted on the steering wheel. The steering wheel is nicely wrapped around leather and doesn’t feel all that bad when you’re gripping it at high speeds.

SYNC also adds that extra level of function to the Mustang. You can program it to make phone calls wirelessly after connecting your cell phone via Bluetooth but, unfortunately, we didn’t really play with SYNC this time around. The stereo comes with your standard AM/FM radio and CD combo and is also packed with SIRIUS Satellite radio.

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Features vary between options, of course, but our model, the “GT Premium,” was what you’d call fully loaded. Two big door-mounted speakers provided most of the sound in the car and a decent amount of bass.
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While the back seats look cozy, with a third passenger towering at 5’10” things became uncomfortable for everyone. It’s no secret that in sports cars the driver and front passenger get most of the legroom, and this seems to be truer for the Mustang.

Unless you’re a little person or you like driving with toddlers in high powered muscle cars, you probably won’t be able to fit any friends in the back.

[media-credit id=4 align="alignright" width="300"][/media-credit]Heated seats are available for the driver and they warm up quickly, leaving you wondering whether you just went in your pants or if the seat’s really that hot.

Seating arrangements feel tight like a sports car ought to feel like, but it’s a different tightness.

There’s enough space and level of comfort that you could drive the thing 400 miles down south and feel cozy enough to want to turn around and drive another 400 miles back immediately. It’s tight and spacious at the same time with the feel of your mom’s Explorer in a sports car set-up.

Yes, getting used to the shifter is a bit annoying but the Mustang’s six speed transmission deserves a standing ovation. Gears are tall and when mated with the 5.0’s rev-happy nature the Mustang flies off like a bat out of hell.

Driving down the motorways in third gear at 60 miles an hour won’t even strain the ‘Stang and with just a tap of the accelerator it’ll gallop its way to 80+ without a second’s thought.

You can pop it into sixth and cruise the speed limit at 1,500 rpms or just drop it back down to second and fly out of traffic. Nothing here is exaggerated, and to say the car is simply fast would be an understatement.

Ford’s new Mustang for 2011 is a heap of fun rolled into one package. Priced at around $36,000, it’s American made excellence that puts down as much performance as a BMW M3.

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One fast mover

2010 Volkswagen GTI

Sean Jones / Staff Photo

Abraham Rodriguez / Managing Editor

The hatchback. It’s small and light, highly maneuverable and packs an unexpected

bite. It’s a Chihuahua, the kind you stuff in a purse and barks all the time, snarls at you with its ugly zombie-dog face and gets the shakes for random reasons.
This analogy would perhaps better suit the used Honda crowd seen driving around with huge exhaust cans and Raiders stickers covering up the rear window *cough* East Oakland *cough*. This wouldn’t be true of the 2010 Volkswagen Golf GTI.
The Golf is V-dub’s reputed hatchback and returns in its sixth generation with a redesign and upgraded goodies. The Golf comes with several trim levels, such as the Golf TDI and GTI.
I wasn’t there to cuddle with the gas-saver econo-options though. I was there for a Doberman in sheep’s clothing. This was the GTI. A turbo 4 cylinder version of the Golf pushing 207 feet of torque and 200 horses that amazingly got better gas mileage than the regular Golf.
The GTI comes in with a 6-speed manual or a 6 speed automatic with paddle shifters. The model driven was an automatic with four doors, obviously ideal for a four-seater. New for 2010 is a touch screen stereo system with satellite radio and six-disc CD changer. It comes with an iPod connection in the center console and an auxiliary input jack close to the emergency brake handle in the middle.
The glove box is cooled, which helps with food and drinks on long drives. The moon roof is complex and has more features than I can remember. The Volkswagen GTI has a ton of interior features, and even with the lack of swanky leather seats, I was impressed.
The exterior of the car has a slight distinct look from the regular Golfs. The honeycomb black grill has time attack style red striping and uses the GTI’s original badge. Appearance-wise, it’s no more malignant looking than the other Golfs.
Not until I was driving Buicks on 22-inch rims off the road and going wide open throttle in Oakland’s Third World streets did I realized what I was dealing with. Even under the most horrendous of road conditions the suspension kept movement tight and precise, even more so when boosting in and out of traffic.
This rally-style rumpus left us in the hills of Oakland longing for more open road. Luckily, the freeway on-ramp was just a hair away. Pushing this hatch rocket on the freeway and seeing electronic speed signs flash red urging me to stop only made it better. Zipping in and out of traffic and lanes, I maneuvered from left to right, avoiding work trucks, left lane losers and police checkpoints.
Every time you push that gas peddle down, it literally pushes back. Hear the turbos wind up and the car kicks into berserk mode.
The highlight of my time with the GTI was getting acquainted with its launch control system. Hold down the brake pedal and slam the gas pedal, let it rev and let go of the brake. You’ll be flying down the street before you know it.
In the last issue, we applauded the Suzuki Kizashi for having a mafia-sized trunk big enough to fit not just one, but two people comfortably. I’m saddened to say that this time I was not able to put the GTI’s trunk to the test but I was assured by our VW representative that a full-sized person can fit.
The Golf GTI is the only sensible option for those with an appetite for speed and practical city driving. If speed isn’t your thing, the base Golf model is a cheap alternative. It starts at around $18,000 and gets 1 mile per gallon less than the GTI. The Golf TDI is the ultimate gas saver here and features a 2.0L, 140 horsepower turbo diesel and an awesome 236 lbs.-ft of torque, more than the GTI. It also gets 30 mpg in the city and 41 in the highway and starts at around $22,000.
The GTI is a fun car that’s great for spirited driving and inner city hustle and bustle. I grew fond of this pint-sized Doberman and my 5-pound Chihuahua would agree. They both neither shake or look the part.

For more automotive features check out Abraham Rodriguez’s personal blog at http://www.kinetic-sound.com.

Abraham Rodriguez / Layout

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Sitting with Dr. Stacy Thompson VP of Academic Services of #chabotcollege in Building 200, on April 9, 2014.

Photo by: @theworldofours
Victory, the Chabot Gladiators tennis fought In the heat to beat American River college 5-4 on Tuesday, April. 8, 2014 at Hayward, Calif. The win over ARC helped the  Chabot tennis team move on to the next round of the playoffs where they will face the undefeated Foothill Owls. (David Soriano/ChabotSpectator/Athletics) #Chabot #tennis #win #winning
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LA Deputy, Hill Goedwart and his horse, Shooter, talked about his 19-year career in law enforcement. #RAW #JACC #horses

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Kemba Smith, spoke with #ChabotCollege students in Building 700 about domestic violence on March 27, 2014. [photo credit: @theworldofours ]
A Day of Action Against Modern Day Slavery with guest speaker Angela Irizarry, at Chabot College in room 2611 on Mar. 25, 2014. #chabotcollege
Donald Pearson seen here took 6th overall at the Sacramento State Hornet Invitational for the long jump with a distance of 6.89m on Mar. 22, 2014, Sacramento CA. Pearson jumped against 30 other athletes that include a few NCAA D1 athletes. Photo by David Soriano @runthatdistancetf
Daniel Estrada of Chabot (8) outkicks the field with a time of 1:58.75 during the Hornet Invitational on Mar. 22, 2014 at Sacramento State. Estrada is the first Gladiator to break the 2:00 mark this year, just 3 weeks ago his personal best was a 2:10!! #tracknation #chabog #track
Choral spring concert as they sing The Terrible Tale of Tom Gilligan at bldg. 1200 on Mar. 20, 2014.
#ChabotCollege Tell'em~! @ the chabot spring choral concert!
It was the 47th Annual Cherry Blossom Festival Preview Day today at the Peace Plaza in San Francisco's Japantown on Saturday, Mar. 15, 2014.  The candidates for the 2014 Cherry Blossom Queen's Court was introduced to the press.  Shimaoka Kazusa-Kai
San Francisco Koto Ensemble were among one of the performers who entertained attendees at the Cherry Blossom Festival Preview Day.
(Tammy Lee/Staff Photos)
FINAL. Chabot's season comes to an end with loss to SBVC in the Final Four. 78-68. Still doesn't erase the fantastic season our Gladiators had. Chabot finishes the year with a 25-8 record.
HALFTIME here in Norwalk! San Bernardino Valley leads Chabot 35-34. Cortez Bad News Barrett leads the Gladiators in scoring with 12 points. Second half coming up in 11 minutes! #chabot #sbvc #socal #cccaa #bayarea #basketball #ncaa #marchmadness #college
We're about to get started here in Norwalk! Chabot vs. San Bernardino with a chance to play Santa Rosa City College in the CCCAA State Championship game! To watch, tune into cccaasports.org at 7pm! Let's go Chabot! #Chabot #Gladiators #Bayarea #Basketball #CCCAA #SanBernardino #Hayward #CCvsSBVC
THEY'RE HERE! The 2013-2014 Chabot Men's Basketball team shoots around at Cerritos College in Norwalk, CA to get ready for the semifinals of the CCCAA tournament against San Bernadino Valley! A victory tonight will send Chabot to the Championship Game which will be played tomorrow! Tonight's game will begin at 7pm preceding the Santa Rosa vs. Chaffey game, and it can be viewed on cccaasports.com! #cccaa #bayarea #basketball #chabot #ncaa #marchmadness
Members of the Chabot basketball team posing for a picture after the team dinner, the spectator is down in LA and will cover the State Finals. #chabot  #basketball
Come support the Chabot Basketball team in LA as they battle for the state title
Usually very active at night, the Russell City Energy Center seen from the Hayward Regional Shoreline lays dormant at night on Mar. 10, 2014. The heavily debated Energy Center is producing 10 times the ammount of pollution allowed by the State of California. Photo by David Soriano @runthatdistancetf #photography #chabot #l4l #love #picoftheday #instagod  #instacool #igers

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April 22
12th Annual Return of the Swallows Festival
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April 24
Change It Now! presents Social Justice in Action: A Panel Discussion on Careers That Make a Difference! 12 - 1PM in Room 722 (The Event Center).

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