With all the hoopla surrounding the launch of 300-plus-hp pony cars (Camaro, Genesis, Mustang) that have recently hit the market, you'd think there was no reason to opt for a V-8 other than bragging rights. I don't want to be seen as the codger bemoaning the loss of carburetors and bias-ply tires, but it's worth buying a V-8 Mustang or Camaro for the engine's sound alone. Yes, a six-cylinder engine CAN be engineered to sound great, but so far neither Ford nor GM nor Dodge is willing to provide a stock exhaust system on their V-6 pony cars that sounds more menacing than a vacuum cleaner. It's a pity. These spectacularly powerful, yet surprisingly fuel efficient, sporty cars will be parked at sorority houses until they sound more like performance cars.
It's incredible that the V-6 Mustang now has as much power as the V-8 car from 2009 and much, much better fuel economy as well. As much as I admire the Mustang's horsepower, though, I can't forget that this 3.7-liter engine is also found in the likes of the Edge Sport crossover. At least with a manual transmission, the engine isn't very responsive to quick changes in the throttle's position -- I noticed the engine would hang near redline after I had lifted my foot completely off the gas pedal for a shift. Once it even held the revs long enough to gain speed after I had released the clutch without getting back on the gas pedal. This sort of tuning generally isn't acceptable in an econobox, let alone a car that's supposed to be sporty.
If you're in the market for a coupe that looks good, cruises well, and probably does well with an automatic transmission, the V-6 Mustang will likely make you happy. If you've got the faintest idea of how heel-and-toe shifting works, however, this car isn't for you. There's still nothing in the V-6 car that makes me want to give up the sound or responsiveness of a V-8. Especially now that Ford has cracked the 400-hp club with the new 5.0.
Phil Floraday , Senior Web Producer