First Ride Review: 2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E EV

We experience the electric SUV's handling, ride, and more.

We're still a few months away from our first drive of the Ford Mustang Mach-E, but we were able to hop into the back seat for a quick ride in a camouflaged prototype of what we were told was a non-GT, all-wheel-drive example—presumably the 332-hp version. (For a full rundown on the Mach-E's various trims and pricing, head here.) This, we were told, is the future of performance cars from Ford. The engineer at the wheel gave us the usual litany of disclaimers—this is a prototype and the trim and calibrations aren't finalized—then hit the accelerator.

As we expected, the Mach-E is quick, whisking us away in near silence on a wave of torque. It has little in common with the acceleration of a modern-day Mustang, or any gasoline-powered car, which is accompanied by sound and fury and the peaks and valleys of the torque curve. The Mach-E just goes.

The ride over city streets was smooth and steady, well within the tolerance levels of an ordinary SUV buyer, though it did rattle our bones a bit as we crossed a set of railroad tracks at a decent clip. Our assumption is that the GT and its Performance Edition variant will have an even firmer ride, though the latter's magnetorheological dampers are likely to mitigate any harshness.

We looped around the back of the Hawthorne Airport and slipped in through the back gate. After waiting for a Cessna Conquest to pass, we did a quick standing-start acceleration run. We expected the piped-in sound to be a bit louder; perhaps the engineers are still tweaking it, but as far as fake engine sounds are concerned, the Jaguar I-Pace still does a better job.

Next up was a slalom, where the Mustang Mach-E behaved flawlessly. Cornering is nearly flat and grip seemed good. The engineer at the wheel—who no doubt had done this about a billion times—picked a speed that got the tires singing but didn't let us feel which end of the car would let go first. Again, we're left to wonder what kind of performance margin is left for the GT, but given how Ford has surprised us with the handling of even the most mundane SUVs, we're expecting great things from the hi-po version.

Our test ride also reminded us the difference between a car and an SUV increasingly lies in the imagination of the marketing staff. The Mustang Mach-E provided plenty of back seat space, but viewed from the inside, the proportions of the cabin reminded more of a Ford Fusion than an Explorer.

Will Mustang enthusiasts embrace the Mach-E as a member of the family? We're sure Ford will try its best to link the two vis-à-vis acceleration and track times, but, no, they are two different species of vehicles. Dropping the hammer in a Mach-E is nothing like dropping the hammer in a Mustang coupe, and if anything, our ride shone some sunlight on what is essentially propaganda.

The fact is that with a pack of batteries (and their collision-resistant housing), torque-at-any-speed electric powertrain, and available all-wheel drive, the Mach-E has more in common with a Tesla Model 3 than a Mustang. And that's fine, because it's Tesla enthusiasts—not pony-car fans—the Mach-E needs to please.

The upside is that the Mach-E represents the way electric cars will be constructed for the foreseeable future, which means that its performance characteristics will soon become the new normal. We missed the sound and fury of the 5.0-liter Mustang (and don't worry, we're sure it won't go away any time soon), but if the Mach-E and competition like the Model 3 represent the future of automotive performance, there will be a lot to look forward to.

Related Articles