A mightier Mustang: Ford offers 5.0-liter engine option
DETROIT — To those not steeped in Ford Mustang history, the news that
the 2011 model will come with the option of a 5.0-liter engine probably
sounds like a big, "So what?"
But for enthusiasts, the news conjures memories of the 1970s and '80s,
when Ford souped up the Mustang with a big engine.
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The news also signals a return to muscle car wars after the
reintroduction of the Chevy Camaro earlier this year.
"The 5.0 carries with it a connotation of performance and an aura of
street cred," says Steve Turner, editor of 5.0 Mustang & Super Fords
magazine. "It harkens back to a day when the Mustang was regarded as a
Turner's magazine, which is named after the 5.0 engine, is preparing a
19-page spread on the engine for its March edition, due out in January.
"We're sort of the lunatic fringe, I guess," he says with a laugh.
The automaker decided to improve the Mustang's engine about two years
ago, and turned around the 5.0-liter in record time.
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For industry critics who say Ford shouldn't be wasting time developing
engines that only enthusiasts will enjoy, the turnaround time marks a
remarkable change in development pace.
"It's a thoroughly modern engine for the times, delivering the
performance and fun-to-drive factor that enthusiasts want, while
improving fuel economy," says Derrick Kuzak, group vice president for
Ford global product development.
One of the technologies on the new engine, twin independent variable
camshaft timing, or Ti-VCT, will be available on 90% of Ford's
nameplates by 2013, the company says. The Ti-VCT makes the engine more
responsive at a variety of speeds, so when you step on the gas at any
point, the car should take off.
Plus, Ford says the 2011 Mustang GT will get 25 miles per gallon on the
highway, even while delivering 412 horsepower. "That's pretty stunning,
really," says Dan Pund, senior editor at Edmunds.com's InsideLine.com.
The 2011 Mustang will look the same on the outside, but the new engine
might help sales.
The Mustang is falling behind the Chevrolet Camaro, which has been on
sale since April. In November, Ford sold just 3,627 Mustangs, while
General Motors sold 6,867 Camaros. And GM predicts the Camaro will
outpace the Mustang in sales for all of 2009. That's not entirely
surprising, given that new models often do better than existing models.
GM is also boasting that the Camaro is snagging buyers new to the
automaker, and that Camaro was the most searched car for 2009, according
to Yahoo. Mustang was third.
"This is a rivalry that goes back to the late 1960s," Pund says. "And to
have the Mustang again as a legitimate performance competitor at the top
of the pony car segment will be important."