Ford added more power to its electric Mustang Mach-E. Here’s how it drives.
Behind the wheel of Mach-E GT, a fast EV with a stiff feel.
Mustangs are sporty cars, and while most of them have zoomy styling that writes checks the engine can’t cash, Ford has always underpinned Mustang’s reputation for speed with performance models.
For the electric Mustang Mach-E, this is the GT. The GT is a legendary Mustang name, one that predates Shelbys, Mach 1, Boss 302, Bullitt, SVO, SVT, and various other hot-rod models, so it seems appropriate that Ford’s EV crossover SUV with the Mustang badge would return to these roots for its first performance variant.
Like most EVs, the regular Mach-E is pretty quick. But the GT adds power to deliver the kind of electric speed that has been the source of so many YouTube videos depicting Teslas roasting exotic Italian supercars in drag races.
Ford underscored the seriousness of its EV efforts by announcing recently that it is splitting the company into two divisions. Ford’s new Model E division will focus exclusively on developing electric vehicles and connected vehicle technology for the future, while the Ford Blue division concentrates on continuing to bring in cash to fund this effort by selling the company’s popular combustion models like the F-150, Mustang, and Bronco.
My $64,800 as-tested Mach-E GT evaluation car was equipped with the 20-inch aluminum wheels, fixed panoramic glass roof ($1,300), and the Ford BlueCruise driver-assistance extension ($1,900) to Ford’s Co-Pilot360. You can identify a Mach-E GT by its illuminated Mustang badge on the front.
The GT features a 91-kilowatt-hour battery pack that provides an estimated driving range of 270 miles on a charge. This estimate held up well, as I saw a range of 260 miles while driving at brisk highway speed with a chilly ambient temperature that led the car’s computer to forecast a range of only 200 miles.
[Related: Ford’s electric Mustang Mach-E is an important leap into the future]
The basic high-performance Mach-E GT zips to 60 mph in just 3.8 seconds, while the even-faster GT Performance Edition whittles that time down to just 3.5.
The GT’s electric motors create 480 horsepower in either version, and the regular GT I test is rated at 600 lb.-ft. of torque while the Performance Edition produces 634 lb.-ft. Good luck discerning that difference in the seat of your pants, because the regular GT can easily perform eye-opening launches.
The GT is faster than lesser Mach-Es, whose 60 mph acceleration time ranges from 6.1 seconds to as little as 4.8 seconds. Standards are changing, but I think anything quicker than 8.0 seconds still qualifies as acceptably brisk.
Non-GT Mach-Es may be equipped with the same 376-cell extended range battery as this test car, or they can have the less-expensive 70 kWh 288-cell battery pack. In all-wheel-drive configuration, this can produce an estimated driving range of only 224 miles, while the GT’s larger pack can cruise for 314 miles, according to the EPA.
Drivers who choose performance models like the GT normally value crisp, responsive handling, and the GT delivers. They are also normally willing to endure the harsher ride that is caused by driving with stiffer springs, dampers, and anti-sway bars.
Those sacrifices are normally made by people who are driving low-slung coupes and roadsters, not family-friendly five-seat crossover SUVs. In the case of the Mach-E GT, I found the stiff ride to be off-putting and out of place for this kind of vehicle. Naturally, this problem can be solved through the application of money, as the Performance Edition rides on Magneride electromagnetically adjustable shock absorbers that help provide the elusive combination of sharp handling and cushy ride.
This stiffness issue is magnified by the GT’s fashionable 20-inch wheels, whose weight also contributes to a shorter driving range. The 18-inch wheels on the California Route 1 model are one of the reasons for that version’s longer driving range, and the smoother ride will make those extra miles more comfortable.
It is no surprise that the Mach-E, as an EV, has a flimsy-feeling rotary dial as its “shifter” for selecting the driving mode. It rotates through the positions, left to right, Park, Reverse, Neutral, and Drive. However, does it need to feel so flimsy? The issue is underscored by the fact that it spins freely, with no solid stop at the Park and Drive ends of the range. By comparison, the similar rotary shifter in the Jeep Grand Cherokee manages to feel heftier in the hand; it is decorated with chrome trim to add visual mass, and it positively stops when it reaches Park and Drive. That seems like a better execution of this solution.
Ford isn’t much interested in revisiting its solution to the shifter on the Mach-E, according to chief engineer Donna Dickson. However, as customer expectations of EVs evolve over time, the device will probably be rethought, she says. “Do we even need one?” Dickson wonders.
Since Popular Science last drove a Mach-E a year ago, Ford has launched its BlueCruise Level 2 driver assistance system. This lets the driver operate the car with their hands off the steering wheel, but eyes on the road. Unlike Tesla cars, the source of YouTube videos depicting “drivers” riding the back seat while leaving the car’s controls unattended, the Mach-E’s BlueCruise system will disengage if the driver isn’t looking ahead.
BlueCruise operates the Mach-E’s accelerator, brake, and steering when the car is on a limited-access highway that has been mapped and approved by Ford. This means pretty much all interstate highways, plus many other divided highways that have limited access. My test car carried the first iteration of this software. Newer cars have an updated version and cars like the test vehicle will get over-the-air updates soon.
In a conversation with Dickson, I mention that during highway driving, I experienced the Mach-E sometimes bouncing from one edge of the lane to the other, at times to the extent that the system disengaged. Dickson nodded with recognition of the issue. “We call that hunting,” she said. “We have it [solved]. That is one we have tuned.” Mach-E vehicles going to customers now should not exhibit this behavior and when the test car gets its update, it should perform better too.
While in heavy, stop-and-go highway traffic, the system performs well, taking some of the burden of such driving off the driver. Ford also plans to expand the 130,000 miles of roads where BlueCruise can operate (they call these Blue Zones) with updates over time. “We have a year-over-year plan for how to improve BlueCruise,” said Dickson. “It is [coming] soon. We have some changes projected for later this year.”
Like all Mach-Es, the GT features a large central display screen for infotainment purposes. Ford’s innovative glue-on physical volume knob provides a great solution for volume control on a touch-screen system. But I’m not the only one who loves this device, and Dickson says we can look for the knob’s capabilities to expand in the future.
“There is more to come,” she says. “We’re really trying to leverage it.” And these expanded capabilities, as with so many other features on such digital cars, will be available retroactively to cars bought before the feature is introduced, thanks to over-the-air software updates.
So look for the Mach-E GT, along with other Mach-Es and other future Ford EVs, to get better over time.