When your nemesis is a Camaro V-6 that puts out 304hp versus your 210hp, you need to act on that. Although the Mustang was just freshened up for 2010, Ford is addressing the greatest weakness of its base V-6 model with an all new engine for 2011. Coming this summer is a 3.7L four valve per cylinder, quad cam V-6 making 305hp. It is smaller, lighter, more efficient, far more powerful and free-revving, with a 7,000rpm redline. The new engine is joined by all-new six-speed manual and automatic transmissions.
Ford has taken steps to make sure the base Mustang is up to the task of handling the extra power. A limited slip differential is now standard, damper tuning and spring rates have been revised, and beefier brakes have been added. For those seeking the most out of the Mustang V-6, a Performance Package will be available that gives you the Mustang GT suspension, 19″ alloys with summer performance tires, and a revised rear axle ratio for improved acceleration off the line.
Up until now, a Mustang with anything less than a V-8 under the hood has been considered an afterthought, or something of a secretary’s car, to borrow an old phrase. The new Camaro RS has rewritten the rule book about what performance should be expected from “just” a V-6. Unlike baby boomers and Gen X’ers, younger kid’s memories aren’t tainted with the stigma of driving anything less than a stomping V-8 under the hood. Fuel economy is a concern regardless of age, and the 30mpg highway rating of the new Mustang V-6 should please anyone.
For the Mustang/Camaro/Challenger to continue to exist, and be viable, this is the path they must take. Without a doubt, the V-8 will always be the hallmark engine of these cars, but credit the companies for finally bringing high performance alternatives in the form of powerful and efficient V-6s that do not diminish the fun to drive factor.