The day is here. The Ford Mustang that isn’t a Mustang—the Mach-E electric crossover—is charged up and ready to go. If you’ve been living under a rock for the past year or so, Ford has created an all-electric people hauler chock-full of Mustang design cues and the performance numbers are, well, actually better than all but the fastest of Blue Oval ponycars. But will it convert the faithful?
It might depend on the trim, of which there are five: Select, Premium, First Edition, California Route 1, and GT. GT has an option above it called GT Performance Edition that is the peak of Mach-E performance. Furthermore, there will be two battery options, standard range and extended range. And in addition to that, you can choose between rear- or all-wheel drive.
Here’s how the powertrain and range combinations for the Mach-E breakdown. The Select trim with RWD output gives you 266 hp and 317 lb-ft of torque, with the standard battery providing 230 miles of range. Moving to AWD shortens that range to 211 miles, but ups torque to 428 lb-ft. Moving to Premium trim increases the numbers across the board with 290 hp and 317 lb-ft headed to the rear wheels and the extended battery providing 300 miles of range. Switching to AWD shortens the Premium range to 270 miles, but increases both power and torque to 346 hp and 428 lb-ft, repectively and is good for a 0-60 mph sprint time of 4.8 seconds. That’s the one we’re driving today.
The First Edition (now sold out) and California Route 1 both get the extended battery. The First Edition only comes in all-wheel drive while the California is rear-drive only. Because the Mach-E trades on the Mustang name—and spirit—there better be one that is hands-down thrilling. And that would be the all-wheel drive GT. The base Mach-E GT makes 480 hp with 600 lb-ft, good for a 3.8-second sprint to 60 mph. The GT Performance pumps up torque even further to 643 lb-ft, good for a claimed sprint to 60 mph in just 3.5 seconds. Those are both faster than the Mustang GT coupe, by the way.
There are three drive modes. There names, in order of both aggression and sound, are whisper, engage and unbridled. Whisper is, as the name suggests, very quiet, and the most efficient. Engage is like your normal mode with a balance of power and throttle sensitivity. And unbridled brings an electronic whirr but with a bass thrum underneath. In that mode, and with 428 lb-ft at the ready, the AWD Mach-E will snap your head back at any speed under triple digits. And the best part about all-wheel drive, you can just mash the gas pedal around a corner from a stop with virtually zero wheelspin and a ton of pull. It’s almost laughable how big a gap you can pull on other vehicles at red lights. It feels nothing like a Mustang.
In terms of ride and handling, the Mach-E doesn’t get Ford’s MagneRide adjustable dampers, but the GT Performance Edition will get them next year. On the plus side, the Michelin Primacy all-season tires (19 inches, 55 series) did well, quietly soaking up all the bumps. That’s extra important in an EV when there’s no engine noise to muffle road noise. Note all the weird angles and fins on the body, they all take away wind noise that would be unnoticeable on an ICE car.
The Mustang coupe’s steering hasn’t been particularly stellar, since it switched to electrically assisted powers steering in 2011, at least on the non-Shelby versions, and the Mach-E’s steering feels similar. You get the sense that it’s a sporty crossover, but not small, from behind the wheel.
Getting inside, you sit high in the Mach-E, which allows for nice view of the road and the seats themselves are comfortable. The interior is dominated by the portrait-oriented infotainment screen with a big jog dial on the lower third. That’s your volume knob, and in the middle is your power button for the Sync 4A system. All the stuff you’d expect is there: nav, satellite, Bluetooth, and Apple CarPlay. Furthermore, your most recently used stuff shows up in the middle. I only spent a few hours, but the controls were easy to learn.
There is a ton of space in the backseat with my 5-foot, 10-inch frame in front. And I can honestly say one could put three adults in the back of the Mach-E without much complaint. The cargo area offers almost 30 cubic feet of space, which becomes 60 cubic feet with the rear seats down. And that’s in addition to the couple cubes in the fillable/drainable front trunk. Best case scenario, the Mustang coupe can seat three adults, with the one in the rear in the unapproved side-saddle configuration.
My test Mach-E had RWD and the larger battery and I got the chance to drive it on an autocross course in an empty parking lot. Besides the acceleration, it did feel more balanced than midsize crossover should, with the rear wheels sliding before the fronts started plowing into cones, even with the traction control on. Battery regen braking was turned off for this portion, but the brakes were still very hard to modulate in that extreme situation. In the real world, I’d count on seeing fewer of these at your local autocross than an actual Mustang.
Moving out to the sheetmetal, the Mustang coupe cues are manifold. The hood sports some of the same contours, the headlights have a similar three-unit design as do the sequential taillights. We can even see some coupe in the slabby sides and pronounced rear haunches. The horse logo finishes off the center of the rear.
There are no real door handles either. We’ve seen this on countless concept cars, but Ford actually did it. Each front door has a button on the window frame above a winglet. Just tap the button and pull the winglet to enter. The rear door skips the winglet and only feature buttons that pop the doors open an inch. The back-seat passenger then just grabs the door and pulls. There’s a pinch risk here, so Ford added a little arrestor that holds the door open an inch, even if you push on it. Once you swing the door wide, the arrestor retracts, and the door can close like normal.
The 2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E, on sale this month, is not a replacement for your Mustang, but you probably knew that already. What it does is bring electric car ownership to the previously skittish masses. A buyer might not know enough about Tesla, or maybe doesn’t have enough cash for the Porsche Taycan. But they do know Ford. They do trust Ford. They see Ford dealerships and know they have a place to complain, if necessary.
The Mach-E starts at $42,895 (before tax credit) for the Select and goes up from there. The Mach-E GT starts at $60,500 and goes on sale in late summer 2021.
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