Evan J. Smith
June 25, 2010
Photos By: Courtesy of Ford Motor Company, Justin Cesler

If you amass great speed, fret not. The 13.2-inch front discs with twin-piston calipers will slow you down. For those needing (or wanting) better binders, Brembo 14-inch vented rotors and four-piston calipers can be added for about $1,695 MSRP.

On that note, it's a good time to mention Ford's new My Key option, which lets car owners limit the top speed of the vehicle, as well as radio volume, and includes a traction-control system that can't be deactivated, and a persistent seatbelt chime, all to provide a safer experience for youths.

Yet another colossal improvement is the aforementioned EPAS, which takes the Mustang driving experience to a higher level of handling, performance, and feel, with quicker on-center response, increased effort at highway speed, and reduced effort required for low-speed maneuvers. EPAS also affords the ability for tuning the steering feel electronically, and it can adjust for driving annoyances.

"Drift-Pull Compensation adjusts the steering to correct for crosswind and minor road crowning," said Dave Pericak, chief engineer on Mustang, "while Active Nimble Control helps eliminate the shimmy felt at high speed, where a wheel is out of balance or when a brake rotor is warped." It also reduces weight and adds performance since the engine is not driving a power-steering pump. We noticed better overall feel and reduced NVH through the wheel compared to earlier S197 Mustangs.

On Track
While we burned up the autocross with the Performance Package V-6, dragstrip duties were left to the 5.0-liter-in our case, a Grabber Blue GT/CS (California Special) with a six-speed manual. On a mild Florida day (1,500 feet corrected altitude), we sat ready to go on the starting line at Gainesville Raceway, tires cleaned, staged, revs up, and ready for the tree to drop. And when it did we traded feet and put the 412 hp to the test.

On launch, the nose came up, the tires made that eeeekkkkkk sound, and away we went with a 2.06 60-foot time. It didn't take long for the revs to reach 6,900, which is when I promptly nailed Second gear. I was in Second even quicker than First, and kept my focus on the tach needle whipping up quickly on each gear change. Ultimately, the gearbox was in Forth and the Grabber Blue machine was streaking for the stripe. Our first pass was clocked in 12.692 seconds at 112.61 mph!

With our 175-pound driver, the Mustang weighed 3,780 pounds. With the 3.73 gearing, the engine rpm was matched perfectly for the dragstrip as we crossed the line in Fourth gear just under 7,000 rpm. We backed up the 12.69 with a 12.72 at 112.49 (2.00 60-foot) and then let the Stang cool down.

We tried to get aggressive on the stock tires but spun, so we bolted up our trusty M/T 275/40/17-inch drag radials. The first pass with "stickies" came with a 2.000 60-foot, but also a big bog, and a 12.70 at 110.56 was the result. The shorter height of our drag radials (2.5 inches shorter than the stock Pirellis) required hitting Fifth gear just before the end of the track. The big drop in gear ratio (from 1.32:1 to 1:1) pulled the engine rpm down, and the trap speed as well. No biggie-we were after e.t., not mph.

Knowing the Stang could handle more rpm off the line, I jacked the rpm from 3,500 to 4,400 and traded feet quickly on launch. Traction was there, as the Mustang hunkered its tail. The 5.0 pulled us to a 1.82 60-foot time and our e.t. was a blistering 12.44 at 110.90. The left front wheel even came off the ground!

We were floored-no stock Mustang GT has ever come close to these numbers. Did the Pony have more in it? We soon found out.

After 34 minutes, I was back on the line. A short Second-gear burnout got the Mickeys cleaned, and I engaged First and staged ever so shallow. On launch, the Stang dug in (1.758 60-foot); four powershifts later, I crossed the line in 12.342 seconds at 110.77 mph.

Needless to say, we were quite pleased. Even the guys from the GM magazine on hand were impressed beyond belief. With the previous 112-mph trap speed, we knew low 12s were in the cards, but to do it and see it on the board proves the worth of this Mustang. Best of all, the 2011 GT is easy to drive as the power is linear and predictable, the revs come up, and you shift, then repeat. There is no tricky IRS to worry about or any special launch technique to master. Just get in, rev it up, and trade feet smoothly and quickly.

Our only regret is not spending more time on the stock tires, as we feel it was capable of 12.50s with more practice. Nevertheless, who could complain? We loved virtually every aspect of this machine, although we would have liked a slightly louder exhaust.

We even made a few laps around Gainesville's road course; the GT/CS clocked a best time of 1.07.83. The short, tight course did a number on the stock brakes, as we experienced fade after four laps. If taking corners is your fancy, we recommend the Brembo option, which would have improved our lap times.

The Mustang is no longer a gritty performer that gives up on ride quality, creature comfort, technology or performance. This Mustang provides a world-class automotive experience that no Mustang lover should live without-ever!

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