2021 Mustang Mach-E GT AWD: Award-winning performance
When Ford decided to produce a high-performance version if its groundbreaking Mustang Mach-E, it faced a challenge. Even the base version of the all-electric crossover SUV was nearly as fast as the gas-powered turbocharged 2.3-liter fastback with a manual transmission.
That's right. For those of you who haven't been keeping up with the news, the Mach-E is an EV SUV. But because Ford is calling it a Mustang for marketing purposes, comparisons to the traditional Pony Car are logical. Ford knows that and has produced a GT version of the Mach-E that is not only faster than the gas-powered 5.0-liter V8 fastback, but handles better thanks to magnetic shocks, recalibrated steering, massive disc brakes and other upgrades.
The result is a breathtaking accomplishment. Nissan's compact Leaf was the first mass produced EV, but sales never reached expectation, even with the improved second-generation version. Ford's previous versions were relatively modest, consisting of all-electric versions of its compact Focus and C-Max. Upstart manufacturer Tesla is dominating the market with a line of advanced but expensive EVs. General Motors was putting up the best competition with its compact Bolt, but recently discovered battery problems are hurting sales. So all versions of the Mustang Mach-E are generating excitement and rightfully so.
The first time I tested a Mach-E, my initial reaction was like everyone else — that's not a Mustang, I thought. Who is Ford kidding? But by the next day I was totally sold on it. No, the Mach-E is not another version of the icon. It's a new concept that needs to be considered on its own merits. They include bold exterior styling compared to any other EV or SUV, a roomy interior thanks to the lack of a drive shaft tunnel, good cargo space under the rear hatch, and strong acceleration even in the base model because all of the torque from electric motor is instantly available off the line.
Like the gas-powered Mustang, the Mach-E comes in different versions with increasing levels of performance. The Select base model generates 266 horsepower and can be ordered with either rear-wheel-drive or all-wheel-drive, which adds a second electric motor to drive the front wheels. The California Route 1 and Premium models are rated at 290 horsepower, and are also available with RWD or AWD. The GT and GT Performance versions produce 480 horsepower and are only available with AWD.
More important are the torque figures, however. They range from 317 to a whopping 634 foot-pounds in the Extended Range GT Performance version, which makes it the fastest Mustang except for the 760-horsepower 2022 Shelby GT500. Zero to 60 times vary from 5.8 seconds for the Select RWD to just 3.5 seconds for the GT Performance.
Maximum range on a full charge varies from 230 miles for the Select RWD model to 305 for the extended range California Route 1 RWD. A home-installed Level 2 changing station is recommended for owning any EV.
In a week of test driving, our 2021 Mustang Mach-E GT AWD was never less than entertaining and frequently thrilling. It had three drive modes. The slowest — which was not slow — and most energy efficient was called "Whisper." Normal was dubbed "Engage." And the fastest by far was labeled "Unbridled." For those who think even a fast EV is to quiet, "Propulsion Sound" could be added, slough it was more like a whoosh than a V8 roar.
Although the GT AWD felt faster than the Premium AWD that I tested in April, the biggest difference was the handling. The Magneride Dampening System transformed the suspension from good to amazing, encouraging much harder cornering without compromising the ride. That also justified the extra bolstering in the Ford Performance Front Seats.
If the Mach-E has any shortcoming, it is the less-than-intuitive infotainment system. The dash is dominated by a huge 15.5-inch screen that strangely does not display a lot of information at any one time. It is thankfully not as confusing to use as the similar-sized ones in Volvos, but it could have been smaller, allowing Ford to design a retro dash more like those in the gas-powered Mustangs.
Although all-electric vehicles are still more expenses than equivalent gas-powered ones, the 2021 Mustang Mach-E starts at a very reasonable $42,895 for the Select RWD version. Our tester was $68,700. Both those prices are before the available $7,500 federal tax credit and up to $5,000 instant Oregon rebate intended to encourage EV sales.
In its first year of production, the Mustang Mach-E was named North American Utility Vehicle of the Year and the Car and Driver EV of the Year. Both honors are well deserved. Find out why at your local Ford dealer.
2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E GT
Base price: $42,896 (Select before incentives)
Price as tested: $68,700 (before incentives)
Type: Midsize SUV
Drivetrain: Twin Electric Traction Motors (480 hp, 600 lbs-ft)
Transmission: Single speed direct drive
EPA estimated range: 270 miles
Overall length: 185.6 inches
Curb weight: 4,394 pounds
Final assembly: Cuautitlan, Mexico
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