When I used to be nonetheless a child, my previous man owned a 1965, sharkskin blue Mustang 289. Some of my favourite childhood reminiscences concerned spending our Sunday afternoons cruising round San Francisco in it. Now, nostalgia is a hell of a drug, so after I first laid eyes on Ford’s electrical Mustang Mach-E on the 2019 LA Auto present, my response was a resounding and heartfelt “hard pass.” With its crossover styling, the Mach-E actually didn’t appear to be any Mustang of my youth and, given its whisper quiet EV propulsion system, positive as hell didn’t sound — or scent — something just like the carbureted 255 HP, 4.7-liter Windsor V8 I keep in mind from my childhood.
Still, the Mach-E has already received the title of 2021 North American Utility Vehicle of the Year and noticed pre-orders for its “First Edition” sell out almost immediately after its debut, so clearly the EV crossover has piqued the curiosity of American automotive fanatics. That begs the question, what truly makes a Mustang, a Mustang? I’ve simply spent a week behind the wheel of the 2021 Mach-E in an effort to search out out.
The Premium that I obtained on mortgage is one in every of 4 optionally available fashions (not together with that short-run “First Edition” which is, once more, already offered out): The Select, the California Route 1, the Premium and the GT. They may be specced as RWD or e-AWD, and with a alternative of ordinary 68 kWh or bigger optionally available 88 kWh battery pack (a $5,000 choice). Those batteries ought to offer you an EPA estimated 230 – 300 miles of vary, relying on choices and drive varieties, and wherever from 266 HP from the Select to a gut-punching 480HP from the AWD GT. The Select begins at $44,995, the Premium will put you again round $49,000, with the Route 1 coming in at $53,500 and the GT at $61,600.
My particular mannequin was the Premium with AWD and the prolonged 88 kWh battery pack which might retail for $56,400 if it wasn’t a loaner. It affords 346 HP, 428 lb-ft of torque, and a vary of roughly 270 miles. Aside from the larger battery and Star White metallic tricoat paint, every thing on this Mach-E got here commonplace — that features the 10-speaker Bang and Olufsen sound system, Qi wi-fi charging pad, 4G hotspot and Ford Co-Pilot 360 driver help system. You’ll additionally discover USB A and C shops in each the entrance and rear rows in order to maintain the jockeying for charger area throughout highway journeys to a minimal.
While it might not a lot resemble its progenitors, the Mach-E’s design makes it simple to identify in a busy parking zone — just like a Tesla Model 3 but taller with a wider, extra aggressive stance. Once acclimated to its dimensions, I got here to understand the Mach-E’s top. It’s far sufficient off the bottom that you simply don’t need to always fear about scraping the underside of the door on curbs or require a deep squat to get into it, but not so excessive you want a step ladder for help ( you, each full-sized American pickup constructed since 2009).
It is available in one in every of seven exterior paint colours, even probably the most muted of which turned heads after I pulled as much as cease lights. Within the primary 24 hours of this automotive reaching my driveway, I had three separate neighbors imploring to go on ride-alongs. And regardless of its outstanding entrance finish and daring traces, the Mach-E maintains a surprisingly svelte drag coefficient of 0.3 — that’s simply a contact greater/worse than the brand new Audi e-tron GT or the Polestar 2, each of which boast coefficients of .24.
The Mach-E’s inside is surprisingly sparse. Aside from the headlights, gear shift and a few knobs on the steering column, nearly each cabin operate is managed via the Mustang’s central 15.5-inch, vertically oriented infotainment show and its built-in quantity dial. The infotainment display screen is paired with a 10.5-inch letterbox show that replaces the normal instrument cluster behind the steering wheel. Voice command, audio quantity and the monitor skip/repeat controls are all out there as tactile buttons positioned on the steering wheel. What’s extra, the infotainment display screen’s ample actual property signifies that Ford has area to make its digital buttons and sliders generously enormous. This is a massive assist while you’re in visitors and attempting to maintain your eyes on the highway whereas additionally navigating via the Mach-E’s varied management menus.
That state of affairs didn’t truly occur as typically as I anticipated it could, thanks largely to the car’s capable voice recognition know-how and integration with each Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Connecting your smartphone, whether or not its an iPhone 12 or Pixel 4a, is so simple as turning on the handset’s Bluetooth and pairing it with the infotainment system. I received each the iPhone and Pixel to hook up with the Mach-E on every of their respective first makes an attempt. Once paired, I may make calls, play my very own setlists (reasonably than depend on the AM/FM/Sirius XM radio) and use Google Maps for driving instructions as a substitute of Ford’s onboard nav system. I’d gladly take the Mach-E’s infotainment system over Tesla’s.
The Mach-E’s inside could also be sparse, but it is spacious with loads of leg and headroom to accommodate as much as 5 grownup people. The seats are comfy and breathable, and the whole cabin feels far much less plasticky than what Tesla affords. The feeling of openness throughout the cabin is amplified just by craning your subsequent again to search for via the full-glass roof. It’s polarized and tinted in order that dangerous UV rays and the prying eyes of automotive thieves can’t penetrate from the surface whereas remaining clear a sufficient for passengers to get pleasure from sights each round and above them. The Mach-E additionally affords 29.7 cubic-feet of space for storing within the trunk so that you shouldn’t have a lot hassle becoming within the baggage for these 5 of us. I’m additionally a fan of the supremely useful Fordpass companion app. It affords reminders to drivers of upcoming upkeep, service and recollects. It additionally at all times is aware of the place the closest charging station is positioned and get there.
Unfortunately, probably the most disappointing facet of the Mach-E driving expertise is, nicely, the driving expertise itself. When you get behind the wheel and press the beginning button, you’re greeted by flashing logos on the show screens, a couple digital chimes, and that’s about it — no throaty V8 rumble, no wealthy scent of carbureted gasoline. It’s all very minimalist and, nicely, a little missing in soul. You do have three drive modes to select from: Whisper, Engage and Unbridled — and all of them typically work identical to they sound.
Whisper is nice if you happen to’re operating errands across the neighborhood and wish to decrease the period of time you’ll have to spend charging the car as soon as you come (it takes round 10.5 hours to totally cost utilizing a 240V energy outlet). It’s low-power and low-power-draw driving. Engage is a strong every day choice, providing you with a capable mixture of energy and vary. Unbridled is for max efficiency, battery reserves be damned. This driving mode will gently press you again into your seat while you stomp the accelerator, and the EV’s instantaneous entry to one hundred pc of its torque is pretty when beating different automobiles off the cease line and getting as much as 60 MPH in simply over 3 seconds, but general the Mach-E simply doesn’t have that very same bone-rattling, suck-the-fillings-out-your-molars uncooked energy that I count on from my muscle automobiles. This feels extra like somebody received all hopped up on bull shark testosterone and set it free on the streets.
Of course, the Mustang is removed from America’s first traditional muscle automotive to endure radical design transformations throughout its mannequin life. I imply, simply take a look at the Chevrolet Impala. It but when the ultimate car rolled off its meeting line in February, 2020. And neither is the Mustang the one former gas-guzzler to go inexperienced. GM is additionally , and shifting engineers from the Corvette workforce to its burgeoning EV division.
For what it is, Ford’s first purpose-built EV, a five-seater crossover packed to the gills with trendy styling, know-how and accoutrements, the Mach-E is a positive wager. The car affords higher than common dealing with and battery efficiency whereas sustaining a excessive diploma of every day life performance — past getting you to your vacation spot in as quick a time as doable. But because the inheritor to the Mustang crown, and even simply as an EV “sports car,” nah, this ain’t it.