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First Drive: 2011 Ford Mustang GT

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Let's cut to the chase: The new 2011 Mustang GT is about as badass as you can get in a normal production car.

In this case, one with a bargain bottom-line price tag as low as $30,495.

The first time you see—or hear—a new Mustang GT open up the throttle, you'll understand why we call it badass. Floor it, and the V-8 develops a deep authoritative bellow that turns heads and sounds way better—especially from the outside—than the more resonated sound from the bigger V-8 in the Camaro SS. And it has the capability to pin you back in your seat with almost supercar thrust, no matter what the gear. Or commit seemingly unlimited acts involving smoky burnouts

We've told you about this new V-8 in detail, but what counts is that Ford didn't just make the old engine a little larger to bring back the '5.0' badge. It's an all-new engine, with Ford's latest TI-VCT variable valve timing for deep breathing throughout the rev range for good performance and fuel economy, and a completely redesigned deep-sump oil system that's designed for hard use (or a 10,000-mile oil-change interval). Yet with rather tall gearing, it achieves EPA ratings of 17 mpg city, 25 highway.

The new engine starts up with the low rumble of an old big-block muscle car, yet it settles almost immediately into a smooth purr of an idle that's completely different than the lopey, rough idle we've come to expect in some higher-horsepower Mustangs of the past.

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