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Changes you can't see include a whole host of NVH improvements, namely rear wheel liners, eight sound absorbers and hood liner insulation that all add up to a surprisingly quiet vehicle. Some might say too quiet as you can't hear the 5.0 burble, but we'll disagree. Overhead cam engines don't really burble the way cam-in-block mills do anyway. Put it this way, day-to-day livability has been greatly increased. Besides, once you open the V8's taps, the cabin is quickly filled with the sort of soundtrack that gearheads dream about. Ford has retained the 2010 Mustang GT's sound resonators, and the noise is even more blissful in 2011. In fact, above 3,500 rpm you're treated to a very finely balanced stereo mix of induction and exhaust noise. Trust us, you'll love it once you get on it.

Speaking of getting on it, the 7,000 rpm redline begs you to do just that. An all-new six-speed (finally!) manual further encourages you to bash the motor all you like. There's also a new six-speed automatic that's okay (though it does lack paddle shifters), but we spent exactly 17.5 seconds driving the auto version (that's two blasts down an eighth-mile drag strip), so you'll need to do your own research if you're not interested in rowing your own. If you are, the new six-speed manual is pretty good, though we'd prefer a short-throw kit. We also had occasional trouble coming down into second and/or fourth. We suspect this is mostly due to the shift lever's long throw, which again would be fixed by a short throw kit. That said, the new transmission doesn't seem to mind abuse.

The same can be said for the brakes. We drove both the stock brake GT and the Brembo-kitted version. As far as the regular brakes go, Ford saw fit to provide a bigger brake booster and for the first time in my car reviewing career, I have nothing negative whatsoever to say about Ford brakes. They're actually pretty good, and the Brembos are that much better. If you spend a lot of time hooning it up on windy canyon roads or at the track, go for the ain't-gonna-fade 14-inch Brembos. If you just like roasting fools at stop lights, the standard brakes are more than fine.

Time to put it all together. I found myself actually saying, "This engine's a pot of honey." Out loud, with another human being in the car. Why would anyone make such a ridiculous statement? Probably because the new motor really is a pot of honey, specifically when you're in fourth gear at 4,000 rpm and you bury the throttle. Turns out that 4,000 rpm is when peak torque (390 lb-ft) happens and the 5.0-liter V8 pulls like a jet airliner. Outside of the GT500 or a very breathed-upon Roush/Saleen, we've never experienced this kind of at-speed acceleration in a Mustang. Very impressive, and more than just impressive, a bit intoxicating. From a standstill, the 5.0 is every bit as superb. We won't be surprised if and when the 2011 Mustang GT breaks into the high 12s running the quarter-mile with a trap in the 112-mph range. Ford went all "no comment" when asked about performance figures, but again we'll speculate that 0-60 mph is probably mid-4s, which is quick by any method of accounting.

Our one serious gripe with the new V6 Mustang was the floaty front end, especially at high speeds. No such gripe with the GT. Not only is the front of the V8 much stiffer than its smaller, lighter sibling, but the entire car has been hardened by 15 percent compared to the 2010 model. Not only does this help handling, but triple-digit stability is impressive, words we thought we'd never type about a run-of-the-mill Mustang GT. But here we are.

Also improved for 2011 is the GT's handling. 2010 was something of a breakout year for the Mustang, as Ford finally committed itself to building a Mustang that goes left and right as well as it goes straight. Not only is the 2011 Mustang GT happy to turn into a corner, once you're flirting around with the apex you won't find yourself making loads of corrections. Put another way, the suspension is able to handle whatever you throw at it, and the steering feel is good enough that you only have to measure and cut once. As far as the never ending live rear end vs. independent suspension argument goes, we're saying the following: The 2011 Ford Mustang GT sports the very best solid rear axle in the world. We'd rather have the best solid axle than a mediocre multi-point rear. Hint, hint, Chevy. 'Nuff said.

The bottom line is this: Ford is done messing around. With the release of the 2011 Mustang GT 5.0 there are no more "Yeah, but..." reasons to buy any other pony car. Only serious Mopar-philes would choose the drastically more expensive and substantially worse Dodge Challenger SRT-8 over the Mustang GT. Aside from looks, we can't think of a single area where the similarly priced but slightly more expensive Chevy Camaro SS beats the Mustang. Speed, handling, soundtrack, brakes, interior (the GT is actually creeping into Audi levels of interior sophistication – look at those seats!), fit and finish – you name it, the Mustang's the superior sports car.

Speaking of Audi, the 5.0 makes the 354-hp S5 look like an overpriced slowpoke. We've driven both cars in anger and the 2011 Mustang GT is not only faster, but is actually rear-wheel drive, not a FWD platform fitted with Quattro all-wheel drive. Want us to go even further? We'd prefer the Mustang GT to a BMW 650i. Sure, the BMW has dash leather and... iDrive. But (again), the GT makes more power (the 650i manages 360 hp), handles better and is quieter unless you're really belting the throttle. Also, Sync's a whole lot better than iDrive, even the much improved new iDrive. Not only that, but the GT's new 5.0-liter V8 engine is in another league than (previous) competitors like the Nissan 370Z and Hyundai Genesis Coupe 3.8. Getting the point? In 2011, the Mustang GT is the car to beat. Welcome back, 5.0.

Photos by Drew Phillips / Copyright ©2010 Weblogs, Inc.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 3 Years Ago
      I am a Brit, living in the Middle East, and although I am a "European" sports car fan, I have ordered my 5.0 and I cannot wait. It's not that it's better than the M3 or A5 etc, because around a track, I'm sure there are many less powerful European cars (dare I say even some front wheel drive hot hatches) that would show the Mustang what it really is and that's a muscle car, not a sports car. Of course Ford have made attempts to refine and improve the ride and handling and that's great, but I don't think they have done it to compete with Euro rivals, they have done it to try and win the muscle car war. In this war, everyone is a winner because whether you are a Chevy fan or a Dodge fan or a Mustang fan (I like them all), the cars on offer today are light years ahead of those offered just a few years ago. The American muscle car industry has improved so much, I can only describe the evolutionary step, as going from 8 track tapes, straight to MP3 players, missing everything out in the middle. This is one of the major reasons I am buying a Mustang and not a more expensive Euro sports car, because even though I've always been a fan, they were never really an option for me, but now they are. For me, I had a difficult choice, the Challenger (in SRT guise) is by far the best looking of the three and is really the one closest to the old muscle car look, the Camaro is the most bold and the Mustang is sleek, so I didn't choose on looks, although it is growing on me by the day (perhaps I'm getting excited). I chose the Mustang because when I was driving, it felt right, it felt fun and it was a damn good car to drive, when you consider the price. Overall, I perceived the Mustang to have a better "bang to buck" value and that new 5.0 sounded absolutely fantastic above 4,000rpm. I will one day go back to Euro sports cars, but for now, I couldn't be more happy to be waiting patiently for a piece or American pride.
      • 5 Years Ago
      This is my dream car! Black on black automatic fully loaded with Navi and a glass roof. All hail the 5.0 baby!
      • 5 Years Ago
      Better than an S5? Hardly. On a track the Audi 4WD handling would absolutely spank the Mustang with its tail-out oversteer and medieval oxcart suspension. Around an off ramp, I dropped a Mustang GT with my .:R32 like it was standing still.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Thanks everyone for shouting me down -- er -- I mean setting me straight on this issue. I've only had firsthand experience in everything from a Bentley down to a Chevette, but no matter. Solid read axles are the way to go -- the future really. Hopefully the Nissan will come to its senses and do a live rear axle version of the GTR so its handling can finally be decent for once. Likewise, Lotus and the Elise. Awaiting that happy day, I'll have to content myself with the world-class handling prowess and lunatic cornering ability of the Mustang.
        • 5 Years Ago

        You don't even have the slightest clue as to what you are talking about. Just because you watch Top Gear doesn't make you an expert. Those morons do powerslides because it looks cool, not because that's the fastest way to take a car around a track.

        The "ox cart suspension" as you and Jeremy Clarkson refer to it, is just as capable around a track as most, if not all IRS cars. Truth be told, the difference in IRS and SRA usually comes down to ride quality more than handling ability. Drive a RWD car with a torque arm, 3 link, or parallel 4 link suspension with a watts link or panhard par and you will eat your words. Mustangs took the championships in Koni Challenge and Speed World Challenge last year and with SRAs.

        In fact why don't you just go to a NASA event with your precious R32 and see how fast you have a Mustang up your tail? Get on track, then talk smack. Until then, please leave the racing to those who do it in a safe environment where everyone intends to drive at the limit instead of comparing yourself to unsuspecting motorists on public roads.
        • 5 Years Ago
        You sure talk a lot.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Guys, those are not a replies; those are just insults. And not very good ones either. Horsepower is only part of the game. You need a chassis to put that power down. I'm not arguing that an S5 or .:R32 is faster in straight line than a Mustang. But, my VeeDub can go around a tight cloverleaf at 75 mph without even chirping a tire. That's what it was designed to do. The Mustang wasn't.
        "Top Gear" tested the Shelby GT 500 with a supercharged V8 a few years back. Its Stig lap was 1:30 and change, only a couple tenths of a second faster than a MkV .:R32, which has half the horsepower and a curb weight only a couple hundred pounds less. Another example: A 4WD RS4 -- 450 hp -- beat the 'Stang by a full five seconds (!) around the track. That's a pretty wide margin. An M3 with less firepower and a more-composed chassis did even better.
        You can define "better" on whatever terms you like, but don't try to argue that a Mustang is something that it is not.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Seconded. Next time you compare you and your R32 to another car driven on public roads by another driver, maybe you should let them know you are "racing". What a freaking juvenile.

        So the S5 can get better lap times than an M3? Oh, because the 5.0 can...

        *cues "pants on the ground"*
        • 5 Years Ago

        They didn't need to get to the meat of your post, because it was that stupid. You crossed over into that 'just insult the poster' territory.

        Since the old iron-block GT500, it has gotten lighter up front, and the suspension has been tweaked to the point it is actually close to M3 speed AROUND CORNERS. Not just the straight line.

        I'm no Mustang fan, I'm actually a huge Audi fan, but you're dead wrong about this new GT not kicking the shti out of an S5.... and leaving your R32 for dead.
        • 5 Years Ago
        If you want to take the position that Mustangs have world-class handling, more power to ya. You're like Star Wars fans making excuses for George Lucas' narrative lapses.
        Ford has a live rear axle in the Mustang because it doesn't have the engineering budget to put it on a modern platform. Such a setup, no matter how well-tuned, is inherently inferior, which is why automakers abandoned it.
        A Mustang may actually be faster around a track with a professional driver at the wheel -- we'll see, perhaps. But, this is the real world, and an Audi is a sublime handling car. And more importantly, someone who is not a particularly skilled driver can get in it and drive it very fast, in all conditions, right from the start, no problem at all -- unlike a Mustang.
        In short, an Audi S5 is a better handling, and likely in the real world faster car. There's no clearer way I can state this. If you want to be dismissive and call me stupid -- which is juvenile, frankly -- fine. But at least I've had my say.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Whelp. I think I'm at 90% going to trade in my 07 GT for this once it's paid off for a bit. Have to see what the rest of the finacials look like next year.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Otto, my 08 GT will be on the market right behind yours. I don't want to buy the first year model, but when the 2012's are released there will be one in my garage.
        • 5 Years Ago
        I keep wanting to trade my 06' GT in on this, but I'm waiting for the Boss 302 edition...
      • 5 Years Ago
      Mustang bests the camaro:

      Better Build Quality
      Better Handling
      Great Interior (camaro interior is sh*t)
      5.0 !!!!!!!!!
      Heritage (the original pony car)
      Visibility (sit in a camaro, like driving a cave)
      Not the offspring of the welfare system (Obama Motors)
      Made in the USA (not Canada)

      Ordered my Black GT Premium, Brembo pkg, 3.73, 6 spd manual! Soon to be kicking camaro ass.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Traction is a legitimate concern. I've had the same issue with Vettes, Z cars & 'Stangs.
      A heavy foot & wet road will see you in a 360 quicker than most traction controls can handle . It's not a bad idea to pocket a few hp to keep insurance down, huh.
      The refinements are cool. FoMo 5.0 has the Mojo baby!
        • 5 Years Ago
        you know what else has traction issues in the rain?

        my 109 hp honda fit
      • 5 Years Ago
      Do you have any idea how many supercharged Mustangs are running around out there? Comparing a tuned Camaro to a stock Mustang is a bit... stupid? There's way more aftermarket parts out there for 'stangs than there is for Camaros.
      • 5 Years Ago
      • 5 Years Ago
      Looks terrible in grey. No MyFord Touch?
      • 5 Years Ago
      Looks like an amazing car.

      Competetion is a GREAT thing.

      I really hope Chevy hurries up with the next generation Camaro, and puts it on a huuge diet. Obviously the current generation was just released a year ago, but it is looking more and more like a hard plastic filled tank every day.
      • 5 Years Ago
      No more so than any other post in this thread.

      besides, walking into a nice restaurant and crapping your pants in front of everybody would get attention too, but that doesn't mean you should do it.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Holy crap. Great article. I want one, not before a Dodge Viper but I still want one.
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