Does it feel like a Mustang from the passenger seat?
After tons of rumors and speculation, the 2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E has arrived in Los Angeles and yes, Ford has decided to use the Mustang name on an electric crossover. Now, before you gather up your pitchforks and torches to march on Dearborn, Ford has an explanation for why the Mustang name was chosen on this vehicle. Yes, Mach-E could have been a good name on its own but Ford's engineers are confident this vehicle lives up to the Mustang legacy.
The creators of the Mach-E, a group called Team Edison tat work on Ford's electric vehicles, initially started building what they called a "compliance car," in other words an utterly boring electric car to fulfill emissions regulations. But mid-way through the development process, the bosses decided to build something more exciting and by the time the product was finished, they believed it was cool enough to be called a Mustang. No one outside of Ford has driven the Mach-E yet, but CarBuzz was given a brief opportunity to ride shotgun in the car prior to the car's LA reveal. Here are eight things we learned from the experience:
Ford provided a few prototype versions of the Mach-E to give us a brief taste of the car's performance. There weren't any GT models available, just the Premium trim with the extended range battery and AWD. While not as quick as the GT, this combination is pretty potent with 332 horsepower and 417 lb-ft of torque yielding 0-60 mph in the mid-five-second range.
We were taken around the block before being driven to the next-door airport runway. Here, the Ford driver pinned us in the seat using the Mach-E's instant acceleration. Even from the passenger seat, we could tell this car is quick and will give some riders headaches with how hard it pulls.
The interior of our prototype ride-along car wasn't fully finished but it did give us a chance to experience what riding in the Mach-E will be like. Since we were in the Premium trim level, it included the panoramic glass roof option, which covers most of the roof with a single glass panel. There is no way to close the panel, which seems like an oversight, but Ford says the glass is UV protected so the sun shouldn't be an issue. We'll have to wait to test the roof for longer before we can comment on its effectiveness but it does open up the cabin considerably.
Before showing us how quick the Mach-E is in a straight line, Ford set up a short slalom to show how well it handles. Anyone who has ever done autocross knows a slalom is a great test of a car's suspension and handling and the Mach-E did not disappoint. Those who may be quick to criticize the Mach-E's status as a Mustang will be happy to hear it handles nearly completely flat through a slalom.
There is almost no body roll and minimal tire squeal, likely due to the low center of gravity provided by the floor-mounted batteries. We'll have to wait to see how the Mach-E drives from behind the wheel but from the passenger seat, it seems to handle extremely well. From our initial ride along in the passenger seat, Ford's decision to use the Mustang name on the Mach-E starts to make sense.
Many people buy a Mustang because they enjoy the firm ride of a sports car. Well, the Mach-E may be a bit more comfortable but it certainly is not devoid of road feel. As we trekked around the block on the torn-up streets of LA, we felt plenty of bumps being transmitted through the sport-tuned suspension.
While riding around in the Mach-E, we briefly experienced how it sits compared to other cars in traffic. Yes, it is a crossover, so it is going to feel taller than a standard Mustang. But it doesn't feel too high up, giving more of a wagon vibe than a full-on SUV. Think Subaru Outback, not Ford Explorer.
Although the prototype's interior was not completely finished, we did have an opportunity to sit in a more production-ready Mach-E. This is by far the most premium-feeling cabin there was ever been on a Mustang. Its larger size obviously provides a more roomy experience than a standard Mustang but the materials also feel more up-market, almost Lincoln quality. Ford's new vegan leather substitute feels supple and the massive touchscreen is a direct shot at Tesla.
Tesla owners have long referred to their front trunk area as a frunk and Ford has borrowed this terminology for the Mach-E. Unlike a Tesla, Ford's frunk includes a drain so you can use it as an ice cooler. This feature will also come in handy for dirty soccer cleats because the frunk can easily be washed out and drained. Inside, the Mach-E features a ton of handy storage areas for your phone or bags.
Electric vehicles do not make a noise, which might be an issue for a vehicle sporting the Mustang name. This is why Team Edison added a small burble to the Mach-E. We weren't allowed to record any video during our ride-along but basically, a combination of the interior and exterior speakers play a low volume rumble when you press the accelerator. And if you don't like the idea of "fake" noise, it can be turned off.