Simply the best 6-cylinder Mustang ever

Let’s put this engine’s performance in perspective. It carries the same horsepower rating as the most powerful Mustang FORD offered in 1998, the SVT Cobra with a 4.6-liter, dual-overhead cam, 32-valve V-8 that seemed

special at the time. Yet the new 3.7 Liter V6 Mustang manages 19 miles per gallon in the city and upwards to 31 m.p.g. on the highway. That’s 5 m.p.g. better than the highway rating for the base Mustang notchback way back in 1984. That old horse weighed 900 pounds less than today’s larger pony, and only had a crummy 88-horsepower 4-cylinder under its hood and a sloppy 4-speed manual transmission.

“It’s all about interdependency,” said David Pericak, the 33-year-old chief engineer of the Mustang, explaining the talents of the new drive trains. “About finding solutions at each opportunity that would be more efficient.”

Those optimized interdependencies let the car’s Duratec V-6 perform as if it were actually two separate engines: one optimized for fuel economy at low engine speeds and partial throttle, and one that roars when allowed to spin toward its red line of 7,000 r.p.m. at full throttle.

Once the tachometer sweeps past 4,000 r.p.m., the intake and exhaust cams transition to more aggressive settings and the V-6 breathes very well. By holding the transmission in each gear, it’s possible to keep the engine boiling in the sweet spot between the torque peak at 4,250 r.p.m. and the dizzying 6,500 r.p.m. where it makes its maximum horsepower.

InsideLine.com measured a 2011 V-6 coupe with a manual gearbox running from 0 to 60 m.p.h. in 5.6 seconds. It also raced through the quarter mile in 13.9 seconds at 101.2 m.p.h. While short of the performance of last year’s Mustang GT (13.5 seconds at 102.9 m.p.h.) that car’s V-8 had 315 horsepower and was rated at 24 m.p.g. on the highway.

So being thrifty no longer means having to give up fun to drive. This 2011 V6 Mustang is simply the best 6-cylinder Mustang ever.

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