The hugely fast Mach-E has arrived. Is it any more of a Mustang?
By PH Staff / Tuesday, October 19, 2021 / Loading comments
So here it is, the Mustang you’ve possibly not been waiting for. Where previous versions of the Mach-E were mostly mainstream entries in the all-important battery-powered SUV segment, the GT model is Ford’s belated attempt to offer customers a level of performance befitting its appropriated nameplate. No, not with a fire-breathing V8, but rather a brace electric motors offering a combined 487hp and the face-squashing prospect of 0-62mph in 3.7 seconds – a sprint time so brief that Ford has never claimed it of a five-seat European model before.
Alongside the significant leg-up in power even versus the other all-wheel-drive iterations of the Mach-E, the manufacturer has gotten similarly busy with the GT’s peak torque. Where the Extended Range car we tested earlier this year featured a ruddy-cheeked 428lb ft, the GT gets 634lb ft in the ‘Performance Edition’ (or 600lb ft in the standard model). As Ford breezily points out, that’s more than it endowed its last combustion-engined supercar with – a machine no one ever found wanting for straight-line speed.
Of course, on the basis that the Mach-E must do without a carbon fibre monocoque – underneath it’s still more Ford Kuga than Ford GT – its maker has gone to the trouble of making sure it doesn’t write too many cheques its body can’t cash. The new model sits 10mm lower on 20-inch alloys, and gets standard MagneRide adaptive dampers alongside a bespoke Pirelli tyre compound. It has packed more of that compound onto each wheel, too, thanks to an all-round one-inch rim width increase. Additionally, there’s an ‘Untamed Plus’ drive mode which dials the car’s various settings into something like a track configuration.
None of this fettling dramatically enhances the Mach-E’s appearance, which means you’ll likely need to be a fan of the crossover’s borrowed design cues going in. Ditto the interior, which gets new Ford Performance seats and some higher-grade materials befitting its premium, but is otherwise a familiar experience – i.e., one monopolised by the Tesla-scale 15.5-inch touchscreen that towers over the dashboard, and incorporates the vast majority of the cabin’s switchgear.
In the driving, not unsurprisingly, it is the new output which looms large over the GT experience. It’ll be a driver of remarkable restraint that doesn’t prod expectantly at the accelerator pedal after a moment or two – this, after all, is the model’s reason for being, and where previous power-crazed Mustangs might have an encouraged a circumspect build-up before giving it the beans, the Mach-E’s silence and suddenness require no waiting period. Give into the impatience, and you get a predictable response; the GT lunges from slow to bracingly quick in precisely no time at all.
Objectively speaking, the car feels good for its claimed 0-62mph time, which, as advertised, makes it assuredly quicker than any other Mach-E, and mighty fast for a family-sized crossover full stop. Obviously in the broader spectrum of mind-altering EVs the GT falls notably short of the grunt-inducing savagery that something like a high-spec Porsche Taycan or Tesla Model S generates from a standing start – but the Ford is significantly down on power versus the battery-powered saloons. And considerably cheaper, too.
At any rate, the GT does its job well enough: once unravelled, no-one is going to mistake the flagship’s party piece for a conventional level of performance. On the flip side of the coin, they might notice the sacrifices required to incorporate the more senior output into the Mach-E’s running gear. When Ford says it tuned its magnetorheological dampers with European roads in mind, it must mean the continent’s faster flowing A roads, because on lumpy Croatian asphalt at slow speeds the suspension seemed less assured than elsewhere in the line-up.
The firm is too slick in the chassis department for anything like actual discomfort creep in, although the GT’s hesitancy in riding uneven roads suggests the handling compromise is not necessarily as well struck as in the finest fast Fords. In the model’s defence, the trade-off serves an obvious purpose; even in its less showier drive modes, the GT is evidently configured to carry a substantial amount of speed with confidence – which is apt for a car that accumulates the stuff so easily. Level it off on a smooth stretch of open highway and you’ll have no misgivings about exploiting all the pedal travel afforded to the throttle.
Limit your expectations to that sort of low-effort super-cruise, and you’ll be making the best use of the GT. Because trying harder on more demanding roads doesn’t necessarily intensify the driving experience. Firstly, and perhaps inevitably, a fatter footprint, sterner body control and lightly embellished negative camber can only do so much in the face of the 2,198kg kerbweight – and while the rear-biased powertrain goes to considerable electronic lengths to make hard cornering seem adjustable and daring, too often the GT feels put upon or else dynamically cumbersome.
Secondly, it is not helped in either regard by the steering or brakes. The discs have been beefed-up to 385mm to make short work of both big speed and mass, but they’re too hard to modulate when you’re really tying one on, which tends to result in rhythm-killing head lunges at the critical moment. And even if they were bestowed with nuance, the steering would be too obviously short of the quality. Ford has located the right sort of resistance for the GT’s electric rack, but applied it too abruptly away from centre. Misjudge your input on either control surface and all the hard work done in conjuring superior lateral grip is mostly for naught because you’ve slowed down anyway.
The result, obviously pending a much-needed longer go in the UK, is a much faster, ostensibly more capable Mach-E which isn’t necessarily a great deal more fun to drive than the trim levels it is meant to transcend. And because you can get the larger 88kWh battery in the cheaper Extended Range model we tested at the beginning of the year, there is no compelling advantage in projected range either. The flagship’s WLTP-rated 310 miles is perfectly usable – commendable even, given the amount of performance on offer – but you’ll go slightly further and probably be no less content in the 351hp Mach-E. Unless you really need to repeatedly find out what 3.7-seconds-to-62mph feels like in a £65k crossover. In which case, the GT is currently the only Mustang that fits the bill.
SPECIFICATION | FORD MUSTANG MACH-E GT
Engine: Lithium-ion battery, 88kWh capacity, twin AC synchronous electric motors
Transmission: Single-speed, all-wheel drive
Power (hp): 487
Torque (lb ft): 634
0-62mph: 3.7 secs
Top speed: 124mph
Weight: 2,198kg (DIN, without driver)
Range: 310 miles (WLTP)
- 2021 Ford Mustang Mach E | PH Road Test
- 2021 Ford Mustang Mach 1 | PH Review
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