The automotive landscape is changing. While plenty of high-performance V8 muscle cars are still on the market, they could be a dying breed as automakers look to a more efficient future.
But as companies like Tesla have shown, “electric” doesn’t have to mean “boring” or “slow.”
Ford is hoping to capitalize on this notion with the debut of an all-new electric crossover that’s “inspired” by the Ford Mustang. It is a curvaceous SUV with some notable Mustang design elements, such as the “three-bar” tail lights, rakish headlights, and the hint of a grille that mimics the iconic Pony Car.
The Ford Mustang Mach-E carries a name that harkens back to the Ford Mustang Mach 1 variant from the halcyon days of the ‘Stang. Unlike those V8 gas-guzzling machines, the Mach-E is a pure electric vehicle, but it still puts an emphasis on performance that Ford says still warrants the Mustang logo.
Interestingly enough, this SUV wasn’t originally branded as a Mustang, and it was supposed to have less power and only front-wheel drive. But when then-new Ford CEO Jim Hackett arrived on the scene, he ordered the designers to start over without such an emphasis on “greenness.” After all, Tesla has shown that an electric vehicle can thrive while being branded as a performance-luxury vehicle.
The vehicle utilizes a battery pack that comes in two range levels — SR (standard range) and ER (extended range — powering a choice of motors that vary in output levels. All-wheel-drive models have motors at each set of wheels, while the single-motor setups place their one power unit at the rear wheels.
Trims are Select, Premium, California Route 1, First Edition (limited run), and GT. The Select is expected to have 255 horsepower, and either 306 pound-feet (RWD) or 429 pound-feet (AWD) of torque. The Select will have a range of 230 miles at a starting price of $43,895.
The Premium starts at $50,600, and it’s offered in the most number of drivetrain options: SR RWD, SR AWD, ER RWD, and ER AWD. The most powerful option is the ER AWD, which makes 332 horsepower and 417 pound-feet of torque. This setup can hit 0-60 miles per hour in the five-second range. The Extended Range battery with RWD has an estimated range of 300 miles, which is the most in the bunch. The California Route 1 has a base MSRP of $52,400 and is the only other trim available with the 300-mile range setup. This trim also features unique design touches.
The GT is the range-topping model with a starting price of $60,500. It utilizes the extended-range battery with a pair of motors for the AWD setup. The motors are more powerful, yielding a combined output of 459 horsepower and 612 pound-feet of torque. Ford is targeting a 0-60 miles-per-hour time of under four seconds.
Inside, the Mach-E has a cabin that looks as if Ford hired Tesla designers to create it. The instrument panel is a simple, 10.2-inch floating screen in front of the driver, but the dash is dominated by a massive 15.5-inch, portrait-oriented touchscreen. This screen runs the latest iteration of Ford’s SYNC infotainment system, which allows the driver to customize various screens. Incredibly, the bottom portion of this screen has a volume knob directly in the center of it. This is not unlike Land Rover’s infotainment setup, but the Ford application is far more dramatic.
While the badge might say Mustang, certain specs might suggest closer cross-shopping with the Ford Escape compact SUV. Cargo space is similar to the Escape, with 59.6 cubic feet, compared to the Escape’s 60 to 65 cubic feet, depending on the trim.
The Mustang Mach-E will be available with features such as heated seats, a foot-activated power liftgate, and a panoramic moonroof. It will come standard with wireless phone charging, the ability to use your phone as a key, and a full array of advanced driver assistance features, such as forward collision avoidance and adaptive cruise control. These features all add the upscale aspect to an electric SUV on which Ford is betting big.
Availability depends on which model you prefer. The Premium and First Edition trims become available in late 2020, but the First Edition is already sold out. The base Select and California Route 1 trims go on sale early 2021, and the range-t0pping GT will be available in spring 2021.