After I was nonetheless a child, my outdated man owned a 1965, sharkskin blue Mustang 289. A few 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 electric Mustang Mach-E at the 2019 LA Auto show, my response was a convincing and heartfelt “exhausting move.” 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 bear in mind from my childhood.
Nonetheless, 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 lovers. That begs the query, what really makes a Mustang, a Mustang? I’ve simply spent every week behind the wheel of the 2021 Mach-E in an effort to search out out.
The Premium that I obtained on mortgage is certainly one of 4 elective fashions (not together with that short-run “First Version” which is, once more, already bought out): The Choose, the California Route 1, the Premium and the GT. They are often specced as RWD or e-AWD, and with a alternative of normal 68 kWh or bigger elective 88 kWh battery pack (a $5,000 choice). These batteries ought to offer you an EPA estimated 230 – 300 miles of vary, relying on choices and drive sorts, and anyplace from 266 HP from the Choose to a gut-punching 480HP from the AWD GT. The Choose 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 presents 346 HP, 428 lb-ft of torque, and a spread of roughly 270 miles. Other than 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 may additionally discover USB A and C shops in each the entrance and rear rows in order to maintain the jockeying for charger house throughout highway journeys to a minimal.
Whereas it might not a lot resemble its progenitors, the Mach-E’s design makes it simple to identify in a busy car parking zone — just like a Tesla Mannequin Three however taller with a wider, extra aggressive stance. As soon as 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 must consistently fear about scraping the underside of the door on curbs or require a deep squat to get into it, however not so excessive you want a step ladder for help (taking a look at you, each full-sized American pickup constructed since 2009).
It is available in certainly one of seven exterior paint colours, even probably the most muted of which turned heads after I pulled as much as cease lights. Throughout the first 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 strains, the Mach-E maintains a surprisingly svelte drag coefficient of 0.3 — that’s only 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. Other than the headlights, gear shift and some knobs on the steering column, nearly each cabin operate is managed by the Mustang’s central 15.5-inch, vertically oriented infotainment show and its built-in quantity dial. The infotainment display is paired with a 10.5-inch letterbox show that replaces the standard instrument cluster behind the steering wheel. Voice command, audio quantity and the observe skip/repeat controls are all out there as tactile buttons positioned on the steering wheel. What’s extra, the infotainment display’s ample actual property implies that Ford has house to make its digital buttons and sliders generously big. This can be a huge assist once you’re in visitors and making an attempt to maintain your eyes on the highway whereas additionally navigating by the Mach-E’s numerous management menus.
That state of affairs didn’t really occur as typically as I anticipated it might, thanks largely to the car’s succesful 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 bought each the iPhone and Pixel to hook up with the Mach-E on every of their respective first makes an attempt. As soon as paired, I might 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, however it’s spacious with loads of leg and headroom to accommodate as much as 5 grownup people. The seats are snug and breathable, and the complete cabin feels far much less plasticky than what Tesla presents. The sensation of openness inside the cabin is amplified just by craning your subsequent again to lookup by 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 take pleasure in sights each round and above them. The Mach-E additionally presents 29.7 cubic-feet of space for storing within the trunk so that you shouldn’t have a lot bother becoming within the baggage for these 5 of us. I’m additionally a fan of the supremely useful Fordpass companion app. It presents reminders to drivers of upcoming upkeep, service and remembers. It additionally all the time is aware of the place the closest charging station is positioned and how you can get there.
Sadly, probably the most disappointing side of the Mach-E driving expertise is, properly, the driving expertise itself. While you get behind the wheel and press the beginning button, you’re greeted by flashing logos on the show screens, a pair digital chimes, and that’s about it — no throaty V8 rumble, no wealthy scent of carbureted gasoline. It’s all very minimalist and, properly, a little bit missing in soul. You do have three drive modes to select from: Whisper, Have interaction and Unbridled — they usually all usually work identical to they sound.
Whisper is nice if you happen to’re working errands across the neighborhood and need 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 completely cost utilizing a 240V energy outlet). It’s low-power and low-power-draw driving. Have interaction is a strong day by day choice, supplying you with a succesful mixture of energy and vary. Unbridled is for optimum efficiency, battery reserves be damned. This driving mode will gently press you again into your seat once you stomp the accelerator, and the EV’s instantaneous entry to 100 p.c of its torque is beautiful when beating different vehicles off the cease line and getting as much as 60 MPH in simply over Three seconds, however total the Mach-E simply doesn’t have that very same bone-rattling, suck-the-fillings-out-your-molars uncooked energy that I anticipate from my muscle vehicles. This feels extra like somebody bought a Kia Niro all hopped up on bull shark testosterone and set it unfastened on the streets.
After all, the Mustang is way from America’s first traditional muscle automotive to bear radical design transformations throughout its mannequin life. I imply, simply take a look at the Chevrolet Impala. It used to look like this however ended up pared down to this 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 can also be rumored to be working on electrifying its flagship Corvette, and transferring engineers from the Corvette crew to its burgeoning EV division.
For what it’s, Ford’s first purpose-built EV, a five-seater crossover packed to the gills with fashionable styling, know-how and accoutrements, the Mach-E is a positive wager. The car presents higher than common dealing with and battery efficiency whereas sustaining a excessive diploma of day by day life performance — past getting you to your vacation spot in as brief a time as doable. However because the inheritor to the Mustang crown, and even simply as an EV “sports activities automotive,” nah, this ain’t it.