Marc Christ Associate Editor
October 1, 2010

On the dyno, the auto with the stock tune made 362 rwhp and 339 lb-ft of torque. After downloading the SCT tune with an SF3 (PN 3015), our Kona Blue test subject pumped out an impressive 374 rwhp and 353 lb-ft of torque-an increase of 12 hp and 14 lb-ft, with a 40 lb-ft increase in torque down low.

Manual Labor
Nothing makes you feel like you're actually driving like a manual transmission-equipped vehicle. They're more fun to drive because as the driver, you are a part of the dynamic process. So when Ford announced that a six-speed manual would be standard on all new '11 Mustangs, we were stoked. It wasn't until later that we realized that there was actually only one Overdrive gear, unlike other six-speeds. But after we were able to get our hands on one, it all made sense-tighter gear ratios allowed the engine to stay in its peak power range all the time.

Jake and Christina Lamotta of Lamotta Performance (Longwood, Florida) lent us their Grabber Blue '11 GT equipped with a manual transmission. On the Dynojet, it made 360 rwhp and 344 lb-ft of torque in stock trim. With the same SCT tune as the automatic, the manual made 376 rwhp and 366 lb-ft of torque. And at 2,750 rpm, it made almost 50 lb-ft of torque more.

On Track
On track, the automatic was a breeze to drive. With the stock tune reinstalled and our test pilot Christina Lamotta behind the wheel, it ripped off a 13.54-second pass at 108 mph. It consistently pulled off 2.2-second 60-footers with very little bog on the launch. After a couple more passes in the 13.50s at between 107 and 108 mph, we called it good. (All testing was done in the mid-90-degree Florida heat at full operating temperature.)

The manual, on the other hand took a little more finesse to launch. On the stock tires, it was easy to overdo the launch and kill the 60-foot. The first pass yielded a 2.2 60-foot on the way to a 13.71 at 106 mph. Subsequent runs yielded a 13.67 at 106 mph, and a best of 13.47 at almost 108 mph.

After reloading the tune, the auto ran a 13.15 at 109 mph. To back it up, it then ran two 13.07 passes at 109 mph. The launch wasn't affected negatively by the increase in power and torque, but actually lowered the 60-foot to 2.18 seconds, as the previous bog was non-existent. The higher shift points, firmer and quicker shifts, and overall increase in power and torque paid off to the tune of almost a half a second and about 2 mph in the quarter-mile.

The manual responded similarly to the tune, however, the increase in torque made launches even more difficult. The best 60-foot we saw from the manual with the tune was 2.22. Still, e.t.'s and mph were significantly better. The first pass yielded a 13.38 at 108 mph. As Lamotta made a few more passes, she was able to pull off a 12.95 at 111 mph. Though mph and e.t. were improved considerably, we attribute part of that to a 20-degree drop in temperature as thunderstorms threatened.

The Verdict
Since our automatic test subject had 3.15:1 gears compared to 3.55s in the manual, there's little fairness regarding best e.t. However, it's clear that the automatic performed well against the manual. It responded to the tune, was easy to drive, and made great power and torque on the dyno. Plus, as tuner shops develop new tunes, there's no doubt that we'll see increased power from the latest 5.0.

However there are few things more fun than banging through the gears. And our manual saw significant gains both on the track and the dyno. So, to avoid copping out, the manual definitely performed better. But with a few more mods and a stickier tire, the automatic might give it a run for its money. Only time will tell.

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