Ford Mustang V6 Convertible Review
|Even with its smaller engine the new version is still entirely faithful to the Mustang tradition. (Photo: Ford)|
He’s changed cars a few times since, but he’s always had his sights on the Mustang. He finally bought another one, a cabrio, a few years back. So my father was impatiently awaiting my verdict on the version of the V6 engine, because for him, power isn’t the be all and end all.
I’ve only got one thing to say: fear not, father dearest, even with its smaller engine the new version is still entirely faithful to the Mustang tradition. In fact, it’s actually one of the best evolutions we could have hoped for.
Living up to a stylish reputation
From the outside, the Mustang is a triumph, whatever lies beneath the hood. The engineers managed to retain the car’s personality while giving it a hint of modern flair.
The improvements made to the body are subtle but nice, and you have to have a keen eye, or be a die-hard fan like my dad, to notice them at all. In actuality, Ford decided to keep the lines developed these past two years, including the plunging hood, the mean-looking headlights and the chiselled taillights.
Our Mustang is maturing in a wise and sensible fashion, even managing to keep its deliciously nostalgic interior while benefitting from a decidedly modern touch.
Powerful yet fuel-efficient
The beauty of the Mustang is also evident under the hood and behind the wheel. This year, its engine line-up has been beefed up, and the litre mill, for instance, is no longer the least bit hesitant. But the real news, the true driver behind of the legendary Ford’s sales numbers, is the remastered V6 engine.
Thus equipped, the Ford Mustang churns out no less than ponies, not insignificant by any means, while consuming around 20% less fuel. Sure, you don’t buy a Mustang because it’s the reasonable or fuel-efficient choice, but when it’s both those things combined, you know you have a winner.
|The Ford Mustang churns out no less than ponies. (Photo: Ford)|
Although most of the hubbub surrounding the Ford Mustang is centered on the GT’s fantastic new hp, liter V-8—our test of which you can read here—Ford made damn sure not to forget about the volume V-6 model, which now sports a high-tech hp, liter V-6 as standard equipment. Yes, ponies in a base Mustang, or just 10 fewer than in last year’s GT. Given that our last test of Ford’s standard pony car left us about as warm as a dip in a frozen lake, we tempered our enthusiasm when sliding behind the wheel of this new one. Lucky for us—and for all Mustang fanatics—Ford did its homework. The Mustang V-6 is an astonishingly good car.
Reveling in a Revelation
For perspective, previous V-6 Mustangs were forever plagued by a thrashy SOHC liter V-6 with a meager hp and lb-ft of torque. The new all-aluminum DOHC engine—a range-topping variant of Ford’s Duratec V-6 architecture with variable valve timing on both the intake and exhaust cams—produces hp at rpm and lb-ft at rpm. It’s not as strong at low revs as the V-8—nor as fiercely bellowing—but the mill quickly spins to its rpm redline with a husky howl emanating from its dual three-inch exhaust outlets; only a little straining is audible near the top of the rev range. Fueled by regular unleaded and capable of returning 19 mpg in the city and up to 31 mpg on the highway with the optional six-speed automatic transmission ($), this is impressive stuff.
Strapped with our test gear, we spurred a new V-6 Mustang with the standard six-speed manual to 60 mph in seconds and through the quarter-mile in 14 flat at mph. That’s over one second better in both tests than the previous V-6 model and just a half-second or so off the paces of the quickest GT we tested. More important, the pound Mustang V-6 is second quicker than the pound Chevy Camaro V-6 in both measures—cue the chirping from the peanut gallery—and the Ford also outruns the slightly lighter and more powerful Hyundai Genesis V-6 coupe. A set of sharp, black-painted inch wheels wrapped in optional Pirelli P Zeros—size /40ZR, same as on the GT—meant that traction off the line wasn’t an issue.
But we already knew that the car was going to be quicker than last year’s model; we just didn’t expect Ford to dial up the entertainment value so high. All V-6 models sport revised suspension tuning, a standard limited-slip differential, and larger brakes— inches up front, in the rear—and our tester also had Ford’s factory-installed Performance package ($), which will be available in late summer and essentially brings the car up to GT spec. In addition to the aforementioned Pirelli gumballs ($ each) and inch wheels, the kit includes the GT’s upgraded shocks, springs, and anti-roll bars; the V-6’s optional rear axle (a ring and pinion is standard); GT brake calipers with upgraded pads; a front strut-tower brace; a revised stability-control system with a more-liberal sport mode; and a couple of unique badges.
What results is a sharper, better-balanced whole that is an absolute blast to toss through the twisties. The V-6 may be only 60 pounds lighter than the new GT, but the difference feels greater from the driver’s seat; it’s more nimble and neutral-handling, with a surprising amount of feedback from the electric power-steering rack. Despite the solid-axle layout, our tester’s ride felt compliant and controlled, with little if any uneasiness during hard cornering on rough pavement.
We’ll say the steering is a bit too light for our liking, and the suspension tuning made for an occasional ass-out surprise during abrupt, high-speed directional changes. But we can’t fault the big-league numbers: a foot stop from 70 mph and a neck-straining g around the skidpad, both of which slightly better the GT’s and approach those of far more expensive stuff. We also didn’t notice any fade from the stock brakes, which should hold up fairly well even if you plan to hit the track regularly. (Did we just suggest frequent track use of a V-6 Mustang? I think we did.)
Manual-transmission V-6s are rated at 19 mpg in the city and 29 on the highway. We only managed 18 mpg over miles of what was pretty aggressive running through Southern California’s canyons, but we should get a better figure when we can test one back home and factor in some normal commutes.
It’s About Time
With last year’s already extensive updates powering the Mustang GT to a win in a three-way with a Camaro SS and Dodge Challenger R/T, we’re delighted to see Ford spreading the love to the V-6 model. We didn’t get a chance to sample the base car with the normal suspension, but at $22, to start, the Mustang V-6 is the least-expensive way to get rear-wheel drive and hp; Camaros base at $23,, and the Genesis coupe with a liter V-6 starts at $25, The Dodge Challenger SE starts at $23, but is so grossly outmatched as to be easily dismissed from the conversation.
Our Grabber Blue Mustang was decked out in Premium trim, which at $26, to start nets leather hides for the seats and steering wheel, a booming Shaker audio system, and various chrome and aluminum detailing, among other amenities. Also featured were the Security package ($) with wheel locks and an anti-theft alarm; Comfort package ($) with a six-way power driver’s seat and heaters for the front chairs; the Performance package; and the $ Mustang Club of America package, which includes a blingy stainless-steel billet grille, fog lights, flat-black stripes down the body sides, a similar appliquÃ© between the taillights, a prominent decklid spoiler, unique inch wheels, and several other bits. Total: about $30,
We’d definitely recommend the Premium model because the plastic-heavy base interior is bland and uninviting, but we’re cool with skipping the MCA package; it might grab attention at the local Steak ‘n Shake, but it’s a bit much for our tastes. Loaded with additional options such as navigation ($), a glass roof ($), a Shaker audio upgrade ($), and xenon headlights ($), the V-6 model could easily climb past $35,, at which point we’d remind you that the GT starts at $30, and that the new liter V-8 is really, reallygood. But given this car’s status as the volume model, we guarantee legions of buyers are going to be plenty pleased with the Mustang V
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Ford Mustang V6 Premium Convertible Specs
A Rapid spec order code
A Rapid spec order code
lower tape stripe, decklid spoiler
A Rapid spec order code
V6 Pony Pkg, 18" polished aluminum wheels, body color exterior mirrors, unique grille, fog lamps, pony fender badge, auto headlamps, unique floor mats, decklid spoiler, unique lower tape stripe
A Rapid spec order code
Mustang Club of America Special Edition pkg, unique painted dark stainless steel billet grille w/tri-bar pony badge, front lower-fascia mounted fog lamps, unique side tape stripes, unique decklid tape applique, 18" x 8" sterling gray metallic painted aluminum wheels, P/50R18 all-season tires, premium carpeted front floor mats w/embroidered pony logo, auto headlamps, rear decklid spoiler
6-way pwr front passenger seat, heated front seats
voice activated navigation, dual-zone auto climate control, SIRIUS Travel Link w/6-month subscription, HD Radio *SIRIUS Travel Link N/A in AK & HI*
active anti-theft system, wheel locks
V6 convertible accessory pkg 2
side scoops, decklid face panel (N/A w/ Hood & Side Stripes) (N/A w/ Rapid Spec Order Code) (LPO)
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V6 mustang convertible 2011
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