TTAC reader Richard Murdocco submits his tale of doing the unthinkable…willingly buying a V6 muscle car. While TTAC has been a proponent of the most recent V6 Mustang, few are so enlightened to its performance potential.
It was early 2011, and my last car, a 2003 Infiniti I30, became intimate with a Dodge minivan. I was just starting out my professional career, and I needed a car. Weeks prior I walked the lot of a Ford dealer on Long Island, and saw it there…a 2011 Kona Blue Ford Mustang, with the tech package, brown saddle leather seats and white stripes down the rocker panels. It was beautiful. It is a V6… *Gasp!*
I read the reviews before going shopping- despite the non-muscle car reputation of a V6 Mustang, everything on paper told me that Ford’s latest offering was nasty. A game changer. The 3.7 engine produces 305 horsepower, 280 pound-feet of torque and gets around 30 mpg on the highway (I’ve found that with my driving, it’s roughly 20-25…). Not bad for a car that starts around $23,000.
There are two questions that transcend the big three brands you get when you buy a Pony Car – “Bro…is it a V8?” and it’s follow up “It’s a manual right?”. Answer no to either (or God forbid both) and the quizzical looks start. “Why wouldn’t you buy a V8? Why wouldn’t you buy a manual? Ugh!” For a moment, you feel a mix of shame and regret. While these questions run rampant on car forums and sites such as this, thanks to innovations and radical advances in engine performance, the question isn’t as relevant as it used to be.
Despite what anyone says, today’s V6 muscle cars are the real deal.
Each year, Car and Driver conducts their annual Lightning Lap, which tests all sorts of sports cars, from the Golf GTi to Lamborghini’s, around Virginia International Speedway. At the time of my purchase, my V6 Mustang was tossed around the track with cars faster, slower, and it’s peers. Here is where things get impressive-
The V6 Mustang, once considered a rental-fleet joke, posted a time of 3 minutes, 12.5 seconds. That lap time beat V8 muscle cars: Dodge Charger SRT 8 (3:18.2), Challenger SRT8 (3:16), Rally legends Subaru WRX STi (3.13.8) and the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution MR (3.13.3), and a variety of other impressive contenders: BMW 335is (3.13.8), Lotus Elise SC (3:16.6), Lexus IS F (3:14), and the 2010 Mustang GT 3:13.3 (Since then, the latest iteration of the Mustang GT with the 5.0 Coyote power plant beat the V6, posting an impressive 3:08 lap time).
What does all of this mean? One, we’re experiencing a renaissance of the American muscle car- enjoy it while it lasts. Two, most people can get their hands on a pony car that is more than enough for their everyday needs at an approachable price.
In fact, with 305 horsepower, a V6 Mustang is now more powerful than 90% of all of the
Mustangs ever produced. For the sake of perspective, a 1969 Shelby GT-350 produces 290 horsepower, the Fox-bodied SVR Cobra produced 235 horsepower, the 1995 Cobra R had 300 horses, and the last generation of the Mustang GT, produced from 2005 to 2010, had 300 horsepower. It’s incredible that such performance from the big three domestic auto makers is available with upwards of 250 horsepower+ for entry-level pricing. You can now essentially buy a V6 with the performance of yesteryear’s V8 for cheap, and get it all in a safer, lighter better handling package. And the trend is continuing. Each year power specs improve and handling capability increases across the industry. It is a great time to be an auto enthusiast, regardless of how many track days you partake in or how large your car collection is.
That being said, it’s going to be exciting see how today’s Pony cars evolve in the coming years. With each generation’s V8’s dominating the conversation, their V6 little brothers are becoming contenders in their own class.
The real winners here are the consumers. Poor us- having to choose between an impressive V6 or a monstrous V8…what a terrible decision to have to make.