TEST DRIVE: Ford Mustang Mach-E GT Performance is the Real Deal

TEST DRIVE: Ford Mustang Mach-E GT Performance is the Real Deal

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TEST DRIVE: Ford Mustang Mach-E GT Performance is the Real Deal

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Shock and horror! A Mustang that’s both an SUV and an EV – and a review on RACER.com? Oh, the horror!

Between the Porsche Cayenne, Lamborghini Urus, Maserati Levanti, BMW X6 and more, sports SUVs are hot right now, and you’ve been living in denial if you thought the day wouldn’t come that we’d see a four-door Mustang SUV. As for whether a Mustang SUV runs contrary to the brand, I have to say that accelerating onto the freeway with my three kids strapped into the backseat screaming “go faster!” certainly felt like I was inducting them into the wonderful world of car enthusiasm rather than ruining a brand’s heritage — especially when I think back to the time I had to leave them at home because they wouldn’t all fit in the 2019 Mustang Bullitt I was testing.

With the key fob of the 2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E GT Performance Edition in hand, I did what everyone would want to do: I headed to an SCCA autocross to catch some post-event, non-competition fun runs (high performance driving on the streets is an absolute no-no, kids), concluding the day with a road trip to the coast. And it’s something I was quite looking forward to. After all, hitting the open road in a vehicle capable of hitting 60mph in a claimed 3.5s thanks to its 480hp and 634ft-lb of torque is the American dream — even if it is (more or less) completely silent thanks to its two electric motors.

EVs are scary for two reasons: range and (for sports car enthusiasts) weight. The Mach-E GT Performance Edition I was testing has an EPA-rated range of 260 miles, although even at 100-percent state of charge, the display never read more than 234. I can’t blame the vehicle for this, however, as the displayed range is likely calculated from prior driving habits, and this particular Mach-E was one intended for media evaluations and had just undergone a slew of abusive performance tests by another outlet prior to my receiving the vehicle. As for weight, well, an all-wheel-drive Mach-E tips the scales at nearly 5,000 lbs, which is about on par for any performance SUV, so the fact that this one was also carrying 91kWh of usable battery capacity is impressive.

Concerns about range led to concerns about charging. Ford, though, took care of that quite well, packaging a Ford Mobile Charger with each Mach-E, with the charger being capable of both 120V and 240V charging. The only potential issue to watch out for is that the Ford Mobile Charger is a non-adjustable 30amp unit and charging amperage cannot be adjusted on the vehicle side, either. What that means for those charging at home with the Ford Mobile Charger is they should have at least a dedicated 50-amp circuit with a NEMA 14-50 plug, otherwise, it’s 120V, 12-amp charging for you.

Ford also sells its variable amperage Ford Connected Charge Station for $799, which allows 240V home charging from 16 to 48 amps.

On the go, the Mach-E can utilize Ford’s 19,500-station-strong BlueOval Charge Network that can be accessed through the FordPass App or via the car’s navigation controls, and I found Plug & Charge worked flawlessly at Electrify America DC fast chargers. Therein, during my road trip, I plugged into a 150kW Electrify America charger (even on a 350kW charger, the Mach-E won’t exceed 150kW) and charged from 25 percent (52 miles remaining) to 80 percent (175 miles remaining) in 35 minutes — just enough time to grab a bite to eat.

My day involved ample seat time, both on the freeway and in a performance setting. In both instances, the seats were firm and comfortable, with nearly zero jostling under pressure.

Outside of the steering wheel and a few physical buttons for items like Active Park Assist, hazards, the parking brake and access to the “frunk” (pictured above), all controls and information are delivered through two displays, one in front of the driver and the other via a center-mounted, portrait-oriented, 15.5-inch touchscreen equipped with Ford’s Sync 4A. Everything worked as you’d expect, with the touchscreen being responsive and easy to read.

On the road, I activated Ford’s hands-free BlueCruise and relaxed under the panoramic glass roof. BlueCruise worked well, although it’s more of an assist than full autonomous driving — something Ford is quick to tell drivers. And very importantly, the glass roof is completely private from the outside.

The Mach-E Performance Edition comes equipped with Magneride suspension. Without a back-to-back comparison, it’s impossible to say if this premium setup is worth the money, but it has been reported elsewhere that the Magneride option is a must-have. For my drive, I have no complaints about how the Mach-E handled varying surfaces.

In a performance setting on our coned closed course, the all-wheel-drive SUV launched hard — albeit with significantly more front-wheel spin than I would prefer — and dug out of corners well. Corner-exit, on-throttle rotation seemed like it was going to be a thing, but even with the Mach-E set to Unbridled Extend (“track mode,” if you will), the vehicle seemingly cut power a little, likely to stop the driver from looping it.

Even with tons of power underfoot, I discovered that the Mach-E sings best with delicate, fluid motions of the gas and brake, not relying on the throttle to rotate the vehicle, as you would do in a traditional Mustang.

I often chuckle at fuel economy under performance conditions. Remember that 2019 Mustang Bullitt I tested? I managed 26 mpg on the freeway and 2.7 mpg testing it on a similar autocross-style course. The Mach-E, meanwhile, indicated an average of 2.4mi/kWh (41.6kWh/100 miles) during my road trip, with the autocross portion producing an entertaining 0.5mi/kWh on the center display.

The sticker price for the 2021 Mustang Mach-E GT Performance Edition I tested was $69,800, which included $5,000 for the GT Performance Edition package, $600 for the Cyber Orange Metallic paint, $1,300 for the panoramic fixed glass roof, and $1,900 for Ford Co-Pilot Active 2.0, plus a $1,100 destination charge.

For those looking for a basic Mach-E, the least expensive EV Mustang starts at $43,895, which gets you a rear-drive, 70kWh Mach-E with 266hp, 317ft-lbs of torque, and an EPA rating of 247 miles. Personally, I would likely opt for the rear-wheel-drive Premium trim, which has the 91kWh battery, 290hp, 317ft-lb of torque, an EPA range of 303 miles, and rings up at $55,340 (although the Extended Range eAWD version is mighty tempting at just $2,700 more).

The question many asked when Ford unveiled the Mustang Mach-E is whether an SUV EV could ever be a “real” Mustang. I can’t answer that, but I can give you this data point: The electric Mach-E I tested can keep pace with a Mustang Shelby GT500 to 60mph.

But to me, a large part of what makes a Mustang a Mustang is not acceleration — it’s what it does to people’s emotions when they see and experience it. Generations have grown up drawn to the marquee that makes them want to get in and drive. During my week with the Mach-E, a half-dozen people randomly asked me about the vehicle, and all were genuinely excited to see it.

Most importantly, though, when my kids where whooping in joy from the backseat, I knew that, at least in my mind, their desire to hit the open road is what Mustangs are all about.

MX-5 Cup | Round 6 – Mid-Ohio

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