The 2011 Ford Mustang is no longer just a stop and go racer
By Abraham Rodriguez
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.