2011 Ford Mustang V6 Coupe Road Test Review

Arv Voss - CAP staff
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Everyone is certainly aware that the iconic Mustang was the first American pony car.  After all, the entire segment was nicknamed after the only car with a pony for an emblem.  Now, for the 2011 model year, the mighty Mustang serves up a history-making new powertrain lineup.  The exterior design evolves with a more muscular, sculpted look, featuring new front and rear fascias, while managing to retain Mustang's overall styling DNA and heritage.  The interior styling has progressed as well, delivering new technology, improved craftsmanship and upgraded materials, while performance improvements include larger wheels, a retuned suspension and additional horsepower gleaned from racetrack engineering experience. 

The enhanced, bolder appearance begins up front with the aggressive grille and prominent pony logo.  Both V6 and V8 GT models showcase a brand new front end sculptured uniquely for each model.  Headlamps and turn indicators are now incorporated as modern interpretations inspired by the 1970 Mustang.  V6 fog lamps are positioned on the lower fascia, while GT model fog lamps appear in the upper grille, similar to 1967-68 Mustangs. 

Ford offers the Mustang in a variety of configurations, adhering to their "steed for every need" philosophy.  Choices include both Coupe and Convertible, powered by either a V6 or V8.  There is also a glass roof version along with several specialized options and features that provide the opportunity for owners to customize their Mustang to a more personal level. 

Exterior sheet metal was all-new for 2010, except for the fastback roofline.  Up front, the headlamps, lower fascias, fenders and grille add to the more athletic appearance, while providing enhanced air cooling of the engine – all capped by the powerdome hood.  Washer-fluid nozzles were tucked into the cowl and the antenna was moved to the rear -- enhancements that combine to create a cleaner appearance while reducing wind noise. 

Front rear fenders display tight, sculpted wheel flares that stretch over the wheels.  A classic "spear" character line on the doors lead to a modern indication of "hip" rear fenders, helping to give the car an aggressive, forward direction, as if it's ready to pounce, even when parked. 
The rear end styling features aggressively angled rear corners, a sculpted decklid and prominent rear badge, with an available rearview camera incorporated into the spoiler on some models.  The new tail lamp design features three LED bulbs firing sequentially from the inside for turn indication like the '68 Shelby.  Vertically located reverse lamps create a modern interpretation of Ford's classic three-lens taillight.  Aside from the revised fascias fore and aft, the 2011 Mustang lineup is not radically different from 2010 offering.  Aerodynamic changes include tire spats on the rear wheels, modified underbody shields, a taller air dam and an added rear decklid seal.  Dual exhaust is now standard on V6 models and other improvements include one-touch start, cold air induction, better clutch and pedal feel, and a 15 percent increase in body rigidity. 

The real story for this latest pony car iteration is the powertrain and mechanical aspects that deliver best-ever performance characteristics.  Both the V6 and V8 engines represent huge strides forward in not only performance capability, but in improved fuel efficiency as well.  We'll deal here only with the V6 side of the equation.  It is a 3.7-liter, DOHC, 24-valve V6 with sequential multi-port fuel injection that cranks out an impressive 305 horses and 280 pound-feet of torque (more than early GT V8 models).  The V6-powered Mustang is the first car in history to ever achieve 300-plus horsepower while delivering a 7.6 L/100km highway rating.  City driving yields 12.4 L/100km. 

The engine may be mated to either a manual or automatic six-speed transmission.  As dictated by tradition, all Mustangs place the engine up front in a longitudinal orientation. 

My test 2011 Mustang was a Coupe, powered by the 3.7-litre V6 coupled to a six-speed automatic.  The exterior was done in an attractive Red Candy tinted metallic finish with Black side graphics and a Charcoal Black leather interior featuring genuine metal trim accents.  The base sticker price is set at $22,999 for the V6 Value Leader with the six-speed automatic transmission, a premium AM/FM/CD stereo system with an audio input jack, MyKey owner controls, 17" painted aluminum wheels, Electronic Power Assist Steering (EPAS), 4-wheel discs with ABS and AdvanceTrac Electronic Stability Control.  The regular V6 Coupe and Convertible, which start at $26,999 and $31,399 respectively, bump up the wheel diameter by an inch to 18s and more noticeably adds a unique Pony grille treatment and fender badges, fog lamps mounted on the front fascia, lower door stripes, front fascia-mounted fogs, lower door tape stripes and hardly least, a six-way power driver's seat with power lumbar. Move up to the V8-powered GT Coupe and Convertible at $38,499 and $42,899, and heated leather sport bucket front seats are thrown in, MyColor backlighting for gauges and a Shaker 500 audio system with Sirius satellite radio and Ford Sync, amongst of things. 

Over and above this is the variably priced California Special package that won't change the taillights like the original did, but will add some a strut tower brace, billet chrome grille, aerodynamic upgrades, side scoops, more exterior and interior trim upgrades and 19" rims.  Other extras include the $350 Security package, the $500 Premium Trim w/Colour Accent package, brake performance upgrades, and so much more. 

Driving the 2011 Mustang Coupe is a joy.  The transmission and engine are perfectly matched – one seems to complement the other.  Gear steps allow near perfect rev limits, and while the V6 exhaust note isn't as pleasing as that of the V8 (nor should it be), it manages to deliver a satisfactory note in its own right.  The 3.7-litre V6 serves up healthy doses of acceleration in economical fashion.  The ride quality is firm, yet compliant and comfortable, providing plenty of stability with precise handling quality, and the steering providing positive feedback with good on-centre feel.  It stays flat and balanced in turns. 

Interior fit and finish have been improved, with unique and esthetically pleasing details adding to the interior ambience.  Noise, vibration and harshness have been minimized for a more pleasant motoring experience. 

The Mustang legacy continues to march forward in the new 2011 Coupe, which is built at the Auto Alliance International Plant in Flat Rock, Mich. The goal of the Mustang team was to improve everything and to compromise nothing.  In the final analysis, the venerable pony car has grown into a more refined and capable stallion.

©(Copyright Canadian Auto Press)

Topics: Convertible, Sports Coupe, Ford, 2011, Mustang, $20,000 - $29,999, $30,000 - $39,999,

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