Marc Christ Associate Editor
July 11, 2011

There's no doubt that the '11 Mustang GT changed everything. It sports over 400 proud ponies, and car enthusiasts worldwide took notice. Now the Mustang GT is seen in a different light.

But what about how we Mustang people see it? Well, we love it, and many Mustang fanatics are also jazzed about the new V-6. But is it just a V-6? Or is it cool now because it makes almost as much power as the GT made just the model year before? Read on and decide for yourself.

If you read the introduction of the new 3.7L V-6 in the June 2010 issue, then you already know it's engine has 305 hp and 285 lb-ft of torque, along with a 30-mpg rating. That's a 95 hp and 45 lb-ft of torque increase over its predecessor, the larger 4.0-liter. Though the all-aluminum construction and DOHC design both help achieve the 30-mpg fuel economy, the Ti-VCT technology is the real hero, allowing intake and exhaust cam adjustments to achieve full actuation in the blink of an eye. This optimizes cylinder filling in a wide rpm range and allows the engine to make loads of power.

In fact, if your memory fails you, the '96-'98 SVT Cobras were rated at 305 hp, and as late as 2010, the GT was rated at 315 hp. And since the '11 Mustang GT is rated at 412 hp, we've become somewhat jaded. The new base-model Mustang makes over 300 hp and has a starting price of $22,145--we need to acknowledge that and give credit where credit is due.

Over the next few months, we are going to install the latest aftermarket parts on an '11 Mustang V-6. I know I just lost half of you, but trust me--those who follow the story won't be disappointed. This month, we'll establish a baseline, install a C&L cold-air kit, and re-flash the computer with an SCT tuner. Later, we'll progress into a full exhaust system and gears, and lastly, a power adder. Our weapon of choice is a Yellow Blaze coupe equipped with the six-speed automatic transmission and standard 3.15 gears. In the old days, the V-6/auto combination would be a real wheeze--today, not so much. Owned and driven by Hector Navarro of Winter Springs, Florida, the sticker price on this well-equipped coupe was just shy of $28,000.

Navarro owns and operates Central Florida Motosports (CFM), which until recently, specialized in Focus performance and technology. But with the introduction of the new 3.7L V-6, Navarro has expanded his scope to include the Mustang.

"The new V-6 Mustang is a great value for entry-level customers, and I think they will become more popular as time goes on," says Navarro. "Those who buy a V-6 will have money left over to buy parts."

It's a great theory, but just how well do the new V-6's respond to bolt-ons? To find out, we first strapped the Mustang to the DynoJet chassis dyno at Lamotta Performance in Longwood, Florida. Using Third Gear as the gear of choice and SAE correction, the result was 237 rwhp and 227 lb-ft of rear-wheel torque. Considering our test vehicle is an automatic, those are respectable numbers. Of course, the real test would be at the track, but we'll get to that in a short bit.

Since one of the first mods people make is the cold-air kit, we chose to do that first. C&L Performance has been in the Mustang performance industry for almost 20 years. Lee Bender of C&L painstakingly develops the products through CAD drawings, one-off prototypes, flow-bench testing, and ultimately, dyno-testing. Each product is designed to be a direct bolt-on part, without cutting, sawing, or otherwise modifying your car. Since C&L was first to the market with its '11 V-6 cold-air kit, we grabbed one of the first ones for this test.

Retailing for $299, this kit is the perfect starting point for anyone wanting to get more out of their new Mustang. The best thing about it is its no-tune-required capabilities.

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