2011 BMW M3 Coupe vs. 2011 Ford Mustang GT Comparison – Motor Trend

6 Dec 2014 | Author: | Comments Off on 2011 BMW M3 Coupe vs. 2011 Ford Mustang GT Comparison – Motor Trend

No, We’re Not Kidding

The car stands on its nose when you go to brake, says Randy, And there’s a fair amount of squat, so you feel a lot of pitch. It doesn’t seem to be hurting the cars braking or entry that much, but it’s disconcerting. We both found the 5.0-liter responsive and fantastic, but split on the six-speed manual. Rev-matching the rumbling V-8 is easy for me, but surprisingly, Randy can’t be bothered.

I just skipped second. The shifts take so long that with the torque curve from the V-8 engine, it’s better to just leave it in third gear, he says. It comes out of these tighter corners at about 4000 rpm and it pulls! As for steering, the Mustang’s is fast but lacks feedback. I’d give the steering about a B in feel but an A in quickness.

The ratio was about perfect, concurs the pro.

That live rear axle setup? A non-issue for both of us. The undulations I felt at high speeds in the bumps did not appear to be coming from a lack of control of the rear axle, says Randy, who suspects a damper issue. The shocks can handle the car up to 60 to 70 mph.

At 80, 90, 100 mph, we have a really challenging set of curving bumps and braking zones for which the shocks are overmatched. So, shockingly good on the road course, but enough to beat the M3? Perhaps, because the first thing out of Randy’s mouth after lapping the BMW is, I missed the mid-range torque of the Mustang. The BMW ramps up more slowly and is skewed toward high rpm whereas the Mustang has a much broader, flatter torque curve. Another surprise was the BMW understeers more.

A lot more, he continues. And that for me, took some of the fun out of it. It made it an easier car to drive fast, but it was not as much fun. The balance wasn’t as good.

BMW’s smooth 4.0-liter V-8 trades mid-range punch for dizzying revs. It’s a modern marvel, especially when paired with the M3’s springy six-speed. Murdered-out cabin is blah to some, but all business where it counts.

But the BMW shines where it matters most: The BMW has far better shock control when being driven hard, which gave tremendous advantage on the hairiest part of this track, says Pobst. I don’t know for sure how fast my speed was, but it sure felt a lot quicker in the BMW. Which is why when pressed, Randy admits that he believes he set the fastest lap in the M3. So do I. I think the BMW is faster because of its superior shock control at high speed, he says.

It has very little nose dive, very little brake dive, which gives me more confidence as a driver. It’s more refined, a more conservative car than the Mustang is and far better controlled. But is it faster?

No, at least not with this Joe behind the wheel. Forget that my fastest laps were about 3.8 seconds slower than Randy’s. There’s an easy answer for that: The pro don’t pucker, observed tech editor Kim Reynolds after poring over the data (see graphic, previous page). All you need to know was that I was 0.55 second faster in the Mustang than the M3.

My reasoning: the 5.0’s broad powerband and less intrusive electronic stability-control system help me exit corners faster and maintain momentum.


For the definitive answer, we go to Randy’s times: 87.67 seconds in the BMW to 87.76 seconds for the Ford. That’s right, the difference between the fastest laps of the M3 and Mustang GT is, literally, less than an eye blink: 0.09 second, to be exact. Randy’s response? God bless America! Let’s hear it for the Mustang.

To me, that is a giant win for the Mustang GT because the BMW is such formidable competition. What about us? Do we take Randy’s advice and name the Mustang, even in defeat, the winner? No.

Although it may test better, cost less, and lap faster in the hands of (an exceptionally) common man, on this day, the Mustang is beaten fair and square where it matters most. But that’s not the reason we are loath to call the Mustang America’s M3. A Mustang is a Mustang. Always has been, always will be, no matter how close it comes to knocking off one of the world’s finest sports cars.

Even if it had fully scalped the Bavarian, that wouldn’t change the fundamental ethos of a legend 46 years in the making: fast, fun, and within reach of everyman. It’s not America’s M3. It’s America’s Mustang.


Recently, we pitted the mighty M3 against the Audi RS5 and Cadillac CTS-V. a triple throwdown the BMW handily won. So does that automatically advance the Ford over the Audi and Caddy? Not so fast. That matchup dispensed with the track showdown of this story and heavily weighted performance as a luxury GT.

That’s a goldplated gunfight for the sharp, but knife-wielding Mustang. While there is reason to suspect the Mustang GT could dispatch the RS 5 at the track, the CTS-V’s brute power and tricky magnetic shocks present a more enticing challenge. Anyone for Mustang Shelby GT500 versus Cadillac CTS-V coupe in a winner-take-all test of 500-horsepower supercharged supremacy?

Give us your thoughts in the comments below. 1ST PLACE: BMW M3

Did you blink and miss the M3’s onionskin advantage over the GT? Here’s a hint: It’s in the chassis, not underhood. 2ND PLACE: MUSTANG GT

Never has a loss felt so much like a win. From not once considered to full-blown contender, 5.0 officially puts the world on notice.

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