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2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E First Drive: Creative Appropriation

Auto123 gets in a first test drive of the 2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E all-electric SUV.

The debate has been going on since day 1 when Ford unveiled its plans for its first electric vehicle. Why call this vehicle a Mustang? How does that iconic V8-equipped muscle car correlate with a green SUV powered entirely by electricity?

In any event, whether you approve or not, here it is. And it, is a model that looks more like a concept than a production car. It has pretty sleek lines for an SUV, there no door handles, and the front and rear styling create a clear connection with the Mustang. Frankly the Mustang Mach-E is a real looker, and if it sticks in your craw to pronounce the word Mustang in its regard, well it’s your right to just call it the Mach-E. That's what Ford originally intended to do, apparently, but to ensure the Mustang name would live on in the longer term, Ford included it in a new family of vehicles.

I'm convinced it's the right decision. The new EV’s sporty styling combines the space and comfort features of an SUV with typical Mustang traits. The vertical taillights and pronounced wheel arches in the rear are inspired by the Mustang. Don't forget the mustang logo leading the vehicle’s charge from the front, which of course belies the fact there’s no actual front grille. More generally, Ford has managed to give a taut overall silhouette and sporty styling to an SUV, which is no small feat.

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2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E, profile
Photo: B.Charette
2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E, profile

Tons o’ tech
All-electric models almost by definition equal lots of technology, and Ford hasn’t held back here. We have the Ford Co-Pilot 360 suite, which includes a frontal collision warning system with automatic braking, blind-spot monitor and lane-keep assist. The Mach-E can also be equipped with an optional new hands-free automated driving system called Active Drive Assist (which is a kind of semi-autonomous drive system usable on roads approved for this purpose).

A new roadside detection system is also available, which functions as a lane-keeping assistance system. But since it doesn’t use lane markers to keep you on the straight and narrow, instead using the actual roadside as a reference, the system can be used on rural roads that are not as clearly marked.

New to Ford is Intersection Assist, which works much like frontal collision mitigation, but is activated by oncoming traffic or vehicles passing through an intersection. You also have all the usual driving aids.

2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E, interior
Photo: B.Charette
2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E, interior

A 15.5-inch screen
The unavoidable centre of attraction inside the vehicle is a 15.5-inch screen that takes up all the central space of the console. On it is accessed the SYNC4 system, which the Mach-E is the first Ford vehicle to receive. This system is smart, meaning it can learn as it gets to know you better. It will suggest appointments you shouldn't miss, for example, or remind you about your scheduled workout at the gym. The screen controls the car's main functions and is complemented by a second screen in front of the driver that displays speed and available range.

The system is also compatible with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Traditionalists like me will be happy to find a rotary knob embedded on the 15.5-inch screen to control sound and column-mounted control levers, as well as buttons for cruise control, audio and phone. No esoteric button-pushing or fingertip brushing required.

2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E, steering wheel, screen
Photo: B.Charette
2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E, steering wheel, screen

Plenty of space
The rest of the cabin is a happy blend of avant-gardism and common sense. The floating console offers modern styling and plenty of storage, and the Mach-E is a true five-seater. You also have two trunks – which sounds wonderful but keep in mind the front one is tiny. The back one gives you 821 litres of space and you have an extra 135 litres up front if that's not enough. Otherwise, you can fold down the second-row seats, giving you over 1,670 litres, normally more than enough for family needs.

Our tester featured a fixed panoramic glass roof with UV protection that keeps the interior cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter.

Finally, getting in and starting the vehicle is easy and effortless thanks to the "Phone as a Key" technology, making its debut in the Ford Mustang Mach-E line. Using Bluetooth technology, the vehicle detects the customer's phone, unlocks the Mach-E and allows the customer to start driving without taking their mobile phone out of their pocket or using a key fob. (Rest assured, a backup code can also be entered on the central touchscreen to start and drive the vehicle if the phone battery is depleted.)

The imitation leather seats (the interior’s materials are 100-percent vegetable-based) offer the right compromise in terms of comfort and firmness, and the suspension is certainly sporty enough for good road grip and handling, while also comfortable on longer trips.

2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E, seats
Photo: Ford
2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E, seats

On the road
Ford is taking a different and interesting approach to the electric car. While the majority of automakers are content to focus on transporting users from point A to point B, Ford wants to excite enthusiasts and savvy buyers by offering more performance and capability, as well as its latest technological features, in a package that has emotional appeal.

Ford is even pushing the envelope by introducing a GT version of the Mach-E just like with the regular Mustang. That version, set to arrive in the summer of 2021, will offer 459 hp and 612 lb-ft of torque, and Ford promises a level of performance that will include a 0-100 km/ acceleration time of just 3.8 seconds.

Our tester was a pre-production four-wheel drive model. Its fairly long wheelbase and the proper calibration of the suspension ensure a smooth yet energetic ride.

2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E, three-quarters rear
Photo: B.Charette
2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E, three-quarters rear

The Mustang Mach-E will be available both as a regular version with a 75.7 kWh lithium-ion battery (68 kWh usable) and a long-range version with a 98.8 kWh battery (88 usable). The Select and Premium versions come with that base battery and offer total output of 266 hp and 317 lb-ft of torque. The First Edition and California Route 1 versions offer the long-range battery with 290 hp and 317 lb-ft of torque in two-wheel-drive versions and 428 lb-ft in the four-wheel-drive variants. This long-range battery is also available as an option in the Premium version. Finally, the GT version, available pnly with AWD, offers the aforementioned 459 hp and 612 lb-ft of torque.

What about range?
The Select and Premium versions with regular batteries offer a range of 370 km with rear-wheel drive and 340 km in 4-wheel drive mode. With the 98.8 kWh batteries, you'll be able to travel 483 km with the rear-wheel drive model and 435 km with all-wheel drive. Ford promises more than 375 km for the GT.  

The batteries are located on the floor between the two axles of the vehicle and are liquid-cooled to optimize their performance in extreme weather conditions and to improve charging times.

2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E, logo
Photo: B.Charette
2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E, logo

The Ford Mustang Mach-E Select is the entry-level model, available at a base price with two-wheel drive of $50,495. After taxes, transportation and preparation, you’ll be able to deduct $8,000 in discounts – if you live in Quebec. British Columbia residents can claim $3,000. However, there is no federal discount, because that applies only to EV models priced under $45,000.

The Premium model is priced at $58,745 and will also be eligible for the $8,000 Quebec discount (though that price point makes it ineligible for the B.C. discount, which has a cost ceiling of $55,000). For all other models, there’s no discount, as the Quebec discount applies to EV models under $60,000. The Premium version with long-range battery comes in at $62,245. The California Route 1 version sells for $63,745 and the GT expected for summer 2021 will be listed at $83,000.

2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E, front
Photo: B.Charette
2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E, front

For its first foray into the world of all-electric mobility, Ford has done its homework and presents a vehicle that is physically attractive and fun to drive and delivers a range sufficient to make it practical as an everyday vehicle. All this while keeping the price competitive. Beyond the name that some people hate, the vehicle itself is worthy of serious consideration.

We feel that, of all the combinations available, the Premium version offers the best bang for buck.

We like

Interior layout
State-of-the-art technology
Panoramic glass roof

We like less

No towing capacity
Questionable decision to name an EV after Mustang
Very little space in the front trunk

The competition

Audi e-tron
Jaguar I-Pace
Tesla Model Y

2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E, rear
Photo: B.Charette
2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E, rear

Road Tests and Reviews

2021 Ford Mach-E
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2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E pictures