Marc Christ
Brand Manager, Modified Mustangs & Fords
October 1, 2010

If you are an avid reader of MM&FF, then you're well aware that there's a new captain of the Pony-wars ship-the '11 Mustang GT. With its 412hp rating, an improved suspension, and all-new manual and automatic transmissions, the new breed of Pony is undoubtedly the best ever. And, you're also aware that as soon as we can get our hands on the first available mods, we're going to bring them to you. Well, here and now is where it begins.

With engineering, prototyping, road-testing, and production all playing a role in bolt-on parts manufacturing, the tuning market has quite a time-saving advantage when a new product comes out. Tuning companies like SCT (www.sctflash.com) can use existing hand-held tuning technology in conjunction with new software for Ford's new processor to provide a quick and easy upgrade at an affordable price.

We could have snagged a new 5.0L GT in stock form, dyno'd and track-tested it, then installed SCT's tune and retested. Boring. Instead we decided to put both auto and manual renditions in a head-to-head challenge-in stock form, and with the SCT tune. Though we probably wouldn't have considered doing this in years past, the new six-speed auto is an impressive piece of equipment. In fact, you'll be even more impressive by the end of this article.

Cracking the Code
As soon as the SCT team got its hands on the first '11 GT, it began cracking the code of the new CBP-C2 processor that accompanies the 5.0L powerplant. Also known as "Copperhead," the new processor is much more complex and intricate than its predecessor. "This is an all-new processor, so we had to start from scratch," said Chris Johnson of SCT.

After spending countless hours deciphering the code, Johnson and the team began to write the tuning software. "We used typical reverse-engineering methods," said Johnson. "But the new ECM utilizes a different communication protocol-ISO 14229 versus KWP2000. There is different control system logic for spark control, variable valve control, and fuel control. The High Definition Spark is new, and Variable Valve Control allows intake and exhaust cams to be controlled separately. Fuel controls differ in that wide-band O2 sensors are now used versus narrow-band, the Fuel Pressure Rail Sensor has been eliminated, and the system is now a mechanical returnless style."

Like other tuning software from SCT, there are adjustments for fuel octane rating (87, 91, or 93), cold-air intakes, axle ratio, top speed, and rpm limiter, which is raised from 7,000 to 7,350 rpm. So how is SCT modifying the Ti-VCT? "We're modifying the positions and relationship of the intake and exhaust cams at WOT," Johnson told us, essentially causing them to act as if they had been degree'd.

In addition, SCT increased the knock sensor window to reduce spark retard. The fans are programmed to come on progressively at 195 degrees opposed to the stock setting of 212 degrees. The tune also suppresses torque management and reduction during shifts.

Automagic
Many Ford automatic transmissions of yesteryear have long been regarded as-let's face it-crap. Only after thousands of dollars of overhauling and installation of upgraded components was your slushbox worthy of a performance vehicle. And by then, it was so heavily modified that it affected streetability.

My how things have changed. With the introduction of the 6R80 in the '11, torque capabilities are far greater, gear ratios are tighter, and shifts are more controllable through tuning. SCT's tune for the automatic-equipped GT raises the maximum torque value of the transmission from 410 to 500 lb-ft. It also reduces the commanded shift time, making shifts quicker and firmer.

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