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The Ford Mustang has been around for over five decades, and during its long life, it has been the best pony car ever sold. Christened after a World War 2 fighter aircraft, when most people think of the Mustang, they only hear a V8 burble. However, since its second-generation avatar appeared in the mid 1970s, Ford has been offering the Mustang with V6 engines as well. From the 1970s up until 2017, Mustangs continued to be sold with different types and sizes of six-cylinder engines under the hood.
The sixth generation of the Ford Mustang will be the last of the breed to be powered by a V6. Launched in 2015, the latest-gen Mustang improved upon its predecessors with the help of better aerodynamics, newer technologies and driving aids, and a new set of turbocharged four-cylinder engines. Ford’s highly-acclaimed EcoBoost motors were more than powerful for a Mustang, and were technologically far superior to the V6 they replaced. At the time, the 2017 Mustang was still available with a 3.7-liter, naturally-aspirated six-cylinder petrol engine. It came with dual overhead cams, multi-point fuel injection, was transversely mounted in the engine bay, and drove the rear wheels. This 3,726 cc mill could rev up to 6,500 rpm and produce 300 hp, whilst 379 Nm of torque was served at 4,000 rpm.
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The Ford Mustang V6 could be optioned with either a manual or automatic transmission, and both were 6-speed units. The Mustang V6 automatic could finish the sprint from 0 to 100 km/h in approximately 5.5 seconds, and keep accelerating until hitting its top speed of around 181 km/h. While the V6-powered Mustangs were undoubtedly more fuel efficient than their V8 counterparts, they were also considered more frugal when pitted against their manual gearbox-aided siblings. In terms of their outright performance, there wasn’t much difference between the manual and automatic cars. For example, the Mustang V6 with the stick shift could make the run to 100 km/h from standstill in around 5.4 seconds (a tenth quicker than the automatic). Meanwhile, one would assume that a manual gearbox variant would have a higher rev limit, but the stick shift Mustang would also run out of steam at approximately 180 km/h.
The only real-world difference that was noticeable between the two, at least practically, was the fuel economy. The Ford Mustang V6 with the manual transmission could only average about 11.2 L/100 km, while the automatic could get away with 10.7 L/100 km. This meant that the automatic variant was not only more efficient in how much petrol it burnt, but it also had the added benefit of being more easy to drive in everyday driving scenarios. When compared to the present-day EcoBoost four-popper, the naturally-aspirated six-cylinder sounded much better. It was also considered to be smoother, more predictable in the way it delivered its power, and is widely regarded as being more reliable and rugged than the engine it was replaced with.
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However, the truth of the matter is that the 3.7-liter V6-powered Mustangs were considered less cool and was almost never a favorite among the muscle car community. And it was rumored that even Ford didn’t really shine much spotlight on this engine. This was not just because of the crowd-favorite 5.0-liter V8, but the V6 was doomed as soon as the 2.3-liter EcoBoost motor took center stage. It’s not all bad news for those who still own a V6-powered ‘stang, though. Because unlike its more fussy four-banger successor, the smooth-six is now being looked back with nostalgia by the very folks who didn’t really want it when it was available.