The 2018 Ford Mustang GT is the fastest base V-8 version ever, at under 4-sec 0-60.

The pony car race is heating up, Ford Motor Co. the latest to give its sporty coupe a big performance boost.

Ford says the 2018 Mustang GT will be faster than ever, blasting from 0 to 60 in less than 4 seconds, with its big V-8 jumping to 460 horsepower and 420 pound-feet of torque. The 2018 Ford Mustang will also get a new drag-strip mode to ensure that all its power goes to the pavement when needed.

“Typically, when you shift gears, you give up time,” said Mustang Chief Engineer Carl Widmann. “In Drag Strip mode, the engine torque doesn’t drop when you’re shifting. You get peak engine torque and horsepower straight through thanks to our new Ford-built 10-speed transmission.”

The 2018 Ford Mustang has a lot going for it, horsepower jumping about 6% from last year’s 435 hp, torque climbing 5 percent. The addition of the 10-speed transmission is significant, and it could add another nail to the coffin of the manual gearbox. It’s becoming more and more common for the fastest versions of today’s performance cars to use automatics. The latest version of the Porsche 911, for example, was about 0.2 seconds slower with its 7-speed stick, for example.

The new Mustang gets a 10-speed transmission, as well as combo port and direct injection.

In Ford’s case, it gets a performance-tuned version of the new 10-speed that first appeared last autumn on the F-150 pickup. The new gearbox – which replaces Mustang’s old six-speed — was developed as part of a joint venture with General Motors though, Ford has pointed out, it handled final development on its own, including some key components and the software tuning that allows the new Drag-Strip mode.

The GM version, incidentally, is used in the new Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, among other models.

The new ’18 model isn’t actually the fastest or most powerful Mustang ever, just the top-ranked version of the Mustang GT. While it will slightly beat the 4.0-second 0-60 times of the Chevy Camaro SS, it won’t come close to what the ZL1 turns out, nor slide into the same league as the Dodge Challenger Hellcat or Demon – the latter. 840-hp monster clipping 60 in just 2.3 seconds, making it the fastest and most powerful factory- built V-8 ever.

(Doing the Demon Drag. Click Here to see what it’s like to drive the 840-hp Challenger Demon.)

Even at Ford there are more powerful versions of the Mustang, including the 526-hp Shelby GT350 and the 662-hp Shelby GT500.

That said, the 2018 Ford Mustang GT has some impress new features. The pony car’s 5.0-liter V-8 now uses both high-pressure direct injection, as well as low-pressure port injection. This approach helps deliver a mix of improved performance and lower fuel consumption and emissions.

The 2018 Ford Mustang's new display helps manage its Drag Stripe-mode functions.

(Ford powers up the police with pursuit-ready F-150 pickup. Click Here to check it out.)

As for Drag-Strip Mode, it adds another touch on top of the Line Lock function previously introduced for the Mustang which allows a driver to spin the wheels to heat them up and improve grip. Drag-Strip is one of five different selectable modes available on the GT and focuses on maximizing straight-line launch by, among other things, reducing wheel spin and torque loss during shifts.

The GT isn’t the only version of the Mustang getting a performance boost for ’18. The turbocharged EcoBoost inline-four package will now churn out 310 hp and 350 lb-ft, a 9% torque boost. It will also be offered with a Performance Package – including Drag Strip mode – that cuts 0 to 60 launches down to less than five seconds.

And for those who might lament the lack of the GT’s primal roar, Ford will now add electronic technology to enhance the exhaust note to make the turbo-four sound more like the big V-8.

Look for fuel economy numbers to be released closer to the 2018 Ford Mustang’s autumn on-sale date.

A new microsite goes into operation today, allowing customers to spec out and price the new Mustang.

(Why is GM thinking about killing off six models? Click Here for the story.)

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