One of the industry’s worst kept secrets has been Ford’s return to the iconic 5.0 liter engine for the 2011 Mustang. Ford has kept mum officially, but there have been repeated leaks and slip ups from Ford execs referring to a higher horsepower pony car. And the Mustang could use the bump in power, as the 2010 4.6 liter trails its top tier competitors by over 100 horsepower.

Last week Autoweek broke the news embargo by reporting that the 2011 Mustang is definitely getting a 412 horsepower 5.0 liter modular motor…that gets 25 mpg.

Picture: Ford

Spy pictures from the past year have shown the rumored “Coyote” engine in Mustang mules, and rumors of the 5.0’s return have had the auto press anxiously waiting for official word. Earlier this month Ford unveiled a new 305 horsepower V6 engine that gets 30 MPG, but still kept mum on the 5.0. But a Ford employee, overly-eager to announce the news, posted on Facebook and Twitter that the new 5.0 will crank out 412 horsepower. Even though it is still a few ponies shy of the Camaro and Challenger, the Mustang is also several hundred pounds lighter. Competition should be fierce.

So how did they squeeze not just an extra hundred horsepower, but better gas mileage, out of the modular motor? All new aluminum heads are pared with an aluminum block (another rumor that has been floating around) shedding more weight and allowing the engine to better breath and dissipate heat. The 5.0 will get four valves per cylinder as well as twin independent variable valve timing, forged internals, tuned headers, and a choice of a six speed automatic or manual transmission. Round Two of the pony car wars is on!

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