The Mustang line now includes the Mach-E CUV EV.
Ford finally did it. The automaker figured out another way to harness the Mustang name to produce an entirely different model. In this case, it is the Mach-E, an all-electric crossover. We’ve long thought that a four-door variant would be an intriguing option to the coupe, but that is not what you get here. Instead, Ford created an all-new electric-based platform and built an entirely new vehicle upon it. The design cues are Mustang derived, yet the similarities end there. Or do they?
2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E Overview
We recently spent a week with a 2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E First Edition model. That one is sold out, leaving four trims for consideration: Select ($42,895), California Route 1 ($50,400), Premium ($47,600), and GT ($59,900). Add $1,100 for the destination charge.
Our test First Edition model builds on the Premium model. This one added First Edition badges and brake calipers and cost $61,000. All Mach-E models seat five. Depending on the configuration, buyers will find rear- or all-wheel-drive choices.
There is one more point to consider: the Mach-E comes with government incentives. For instance, eligible buyers may qualify for a $7,500 federal tax credit. The amount of the credit (which ultimately lowers your tax burden) depends on what you earn. Further, some states add tax rebates and other incentives. Check with your dealer to determine eligibility.
When Ford slaps the Mustang name on something, then scrutiny of the vehicle is in order. The first thing we did was a walkaround, taking note of this model’s silhouette and various detailing. The resemblance to the Mustang coupe is striking, particularly with its lighting elements and lines. At first glance, the Mach-E looks like a two-door although the middle roof pillar is the giveaway that it is not one. Instead of door handles, Ford utilizes buttons, which deliver a clean look.
The front fascia has the shape of the Mustang Coupe, but the “grille” clearly demonstrates that this model is electric with its plastic slab occupying that space. One individual who saw the vehicle at a local cars and coffee event thought Ford should have made the grille look like the coupe. We’re glad that they didn’t as some may have interpreted that design decision as a way to fool customers. Doubtlessly, Ford thought hard before resting on its decision.
The Mach-E flows quite well from bumper to bumper. The sporty lower grille and snazzy headlights raise visual interest as does the muscular hood over the frunk. The coupe-like roofline is a strong nod to the original, although make no mistake about it: this is a crossover.
The front lights parallel the coupe as do the rear lights. Instead of sequential rear lights, the pattern is even. However, move back to the front and activate the turn signals and that is where the sequential lighting is evident. We are not sure why Ford made the change, but it looks great on the Mach-E.
The Mach-E supplies some design elements from the Mustang Coupe, including logos. But the departure is especially strong with the instrument panel. Here, the Mach-E has the smallest and narrowest readout screen with speed and range the most important details shared.
The big deal is with the oversized display screen occupying the center console. The 15.5-inch screen is larger than a tablet and ties in with Ford’s SYNC 4A system. That system traces back to 2008 when the 2008 Focus with the first-generation version rolled out. Over the years the system spread to other models, became much more complicated, and nearly unusable. Since SYNC 3, Ford has made plenty of user-friendly improvements and that has made the new one highly palatable.
Consider the display tablet the nerve system for the Mach-E. All cabin controls and some vehicle functions are included here and are easy to find, touch, and scroll. The black lettering and white background supply a pleasing contrast. All controls are properly spaced and easy to decipher. We hardly spent the time we would have wanted to here to explore all that the system offers. Nevertheless, the learning curve is a brief one.
Room for Five
Shop a Mustang Coupe and you will get room for five. If you want to call it that. In the coupe, the front seats are sporty and comfortable. On the other hand, the rear seats are cramped and seem like an afterthought. Getting back there is a challenge all its own.
In the Mustang Mach-E, there are four doors for ease of access to the cabin. The front seats are thick, supportive, and comfortable. They are not as sporty as the coupe but you don’t need the Recaros here. Nonetheless, our First Edition GT-based trim nailed the front seats.
With two rear doors, the Mach-E has the potential to seat a few adults on the 60/40 split fold down seat in comfort. To our surprise, a pair of six-foot-tall individuals sitting behind another pair of tall passengers upfront can manage fine with several inches of legroom to spare. Further, a third person can sit between the two, at least on short trips. Notably, even with a sloping roofline, the interior headroom is good. The only challenge is watching your head when entering and exiting as you will need to duck and slide in.
We also give Ford props for designing a crossover with substantial cargo space. Thanks to a battery pack that sits low, the standard cargo space measures 29.7 cubic feet. Drop the second-row seat flat and that space doubles to 59.7 cubic feet. And if that’s not enough space for you, the front trunk (frunk) offers a modest 4.7 cubic feet of partitioned space – it is an ideal place to hold and store your groceries. And, yes, the partitions can be removed.
There are differences in performance levels with the Mach-E. Even more so than with the Mustang Coupe. Here, Ford offers standard rear-wheel drive and available all-wheel drive. Power routes to the wheels via a one-speed transmission.
The standard battery system with the base Select trim measures 68 kWh with a 230-mile range (211 miles with all-wheel drive). Ford says this model has a 0-60 mph time of 5.8 seconds (5.2 seconds with all-wheel drive). Peak power measures 266 horsepower and 317 pound-feet of torque (428 lb.-ft. with all-wheel drive).
Move up to the Premium trim and the performance details carry over. However, it is at this trim where customers are given the option to upgrade to an 88-kWh battery system. In doing so, the range extends to 300 miles (270 with all-wheel drive). The performance creeps up to 346 horsepower while torque remains constant at 428 pound-feet. Please note that there are some performance differences for the First Edition (0-60 mph in 4.8 seconds.) Also, the California 1 edition is “detuned to deliver the longest range (305 miles) and a lower power level – 290 horsepower and 317 pound-feet of torque. Thus, this model has a 0-60 mph time of 6.1 seconds.
Knock Down GT Edition
A special GT Edition is on its way this fall. This one will rival the Mustang Coupe in performance. Indeed, with 480 horsepower and 600 pound-feet of torque (634 with the performance package), this model will deliver a 0-60 mph time as low as 3.5 seconds. That is faster than nearly every Mustang coupe model except for certain Shelby variants. In any case, Ford says this all-wheel-drive performance variant will deliver 250 miles of range, falling to 235 miles with the performance package. That is not bad considering the amount of power it produces.
On the Road
So, now for the moment of truth: does the Mach-E rival the Mustang Coupe? Answer: yes and no.
We give the Mach-E high marks for solid steering, weighted handling, and a smooth ride. The car is very well put together and imbues driver confidence by the way it behaves on the road. It is strong out of the gate, but with instant torque, it flies by nearly everything else on the road. We can only imagine how much more the GT edition will build on this.
Although it is a high-profile vehicle, the sleek curves and relatively squat stance make this one a pleasure to drive. The weight it must move — 4,394 to 4,920 pounds – seems like a non-factor. This model sprints at will. Compare these numbers to the Mustang Coupe — 3,532 to 3,825 pounds – and the differences are stark. Nevertheless, the Mach-E’s electric system is up to the task.
The key element for the Mach-E is braking. Each time the brake is applied, it harnesses kinetic energy and delivers it to the battery pack. But you can also go one better and switch to one-pedal driving. Here, with a touch of a button, the accelerator does it all. This means the moment you take your foot off the accelerator, the Mach-E immediately begins to brake. You can still use your brakes if needed, but this method is more efficient. Further, it’s a good way to save wear and tear on your brake pads and calipers: they’ll last much longer when you allow the motors to do the work.
All in all, the Mach-E is a compelling driver, but we think the Coupe remains the king in negotiating curves and for pulling in and out of turns.
If you can find a Mach-E, start your search with the standard model. It may have everything you need. The difficulty right now is that demand is high and the semi-conductor shortage is putting a crunch on Ford’s ability to build them.
That said, if you are able to test drive a Mach-E, then give it a whirl. For diehard Mustang fans, we hear your consternation about name-sharing. But if can look past that and evaluate this EV on its own merits, you may find a few things about it to your liking. The operative words here, however, are “own merits.”
Please note: We’re no longer including manufacturer specifications with our reviews. Instead, we encourage you to visit the company’s website for the current information, which is subject to change.
Exterior photos copyright Auto Trends Magazine. Interior shots courtesy of the Ford Motor Company.