The range-topping Performance Edition can already accelerate from 0-62 mph in 3.5 seconds.
For over 50 years, the Mustang nameplate has been synonymous with the performance pony car, so applying it to an electric crossover was a risky move. Ford is preparing to launch the Mustang Mach-E, arguably one of the automaker's most important models in decades, but ensuring the electric SUV lives up to the Mustang name was a huge challenge for Ford.
"The big challenge became, how do we as a design team make a double-leap with Mustang?" Jason Castriota, Ford's global brand director for battery electric vehicles, told Road and Track. "So not only are we going to make an electric Mustang, but an electric SUV Mustang."
Ford decided to apply the Mustang name to the Mach-E late into development after discovering it will face tough competition from rival manufacturers planning new EV launches at the same time. Ford's electric SUV had to stand out from the crowd at a time when new EVs are flooding the market.
"It became readily apparent to the team that this car needed to be a Mustang," Castriota said. "This led to massive changes in the vehicle architecture, massive changes in the proportions, in the silhouette, and of course to the drivetrain and the performance of the vehicle as well."
From the long hood to the muscular fenders and sequential taillights, the Mach-E shares a slew of styling cues from the Mustang pony car. Despite this, Ford was prepared to face backlash from enthusiasts. This made Castriota apprehensive about presenting the Mach-E to Mustang club presidents.
"Let's say, they came in arms crossed, a stern look on their faces." But once they saw the SUV's potential, they were won over. "They understood that we're not taking away anything they love. This is another steed in the stable," Castriota said.
As well as looking like a Mustang, the Mach-E also performs like a Mustang. Earlier this month, Ford revealed the new range-topping Mustang Mach-E Performance Edition rated at 480 horsepower and 634 lb-ft of torque, and that can accelerate from 0-62 mph in 3.5 seconds. But Castriota admits even more powerful variants could join the lineup in the future. "You can imagine that we can hopefully develop the Mustang Mach-E into greater performance versions."
While this is the first time an SUV has joined the Mustang family, Castriota doesn't think the moniker can be applied to every bodystyle. "I certainly wouldn't envision a Mustang pickup," he said. "Or a Mustang commercial van." However, he didn't rule out the possibility of Ford expanding the Mustang brand beyond the Mach-E. "I think vehicles that can capture performance, moving people fast and free… we feel that it's definitely worthwhile exploring the other potentials for our great brands."