Ford Mustang Mach-E GT review: Fast car, stiff handling

Mustangs are sports cars, and while most of them have zoomed-in styling that writes checks the engine can’t cash, Ford has always backed up Mustang’s reputation for speed with performance models.

For the electric Mustang Mach-E, it’s the GT. The GT is a legendary Mustang name, which predates Shelbys, Mach 1, Boss 302, Bullitt, SVO, SVT and various other hot-rod models, so it seems fitting that Ford’s EV crossover SUV with the Mustang badge returns to those 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’s been the source of so many YouTube videos showing Teslas roasting exotic Italian supercars in drag races.

Ford underscored the seriousness of its electric vehicle efforts by recently announcing that it was splitting the company into two divisions. Ford’s new Model E division will focus exclusively on developing electric vehicles and connected vehicle technologies for the future, while the Ford Blue division will focus on continuing to pour in cash to fund this effort by selling the company’s popular combustion models like the F-150, Mustang, and Bronco.

My Mach-E GT review car tested at $64,800 came with 20-inch aluminum wheels, a fixed panoramic glass roof ($1,300) and the Ford BlueCruise driver-assist extension. ($1,900) for Ford’s Co-Pilot360. You can identify a Mach-E GT by its illuminated Mustang badge on the front.

The GT is equipped with a 91 kilowatt-hour battery that provides an estimated range of 270 miles on one charge. This estimate held up well, as I saw a range of 260 miles when driving at high speeds on the highway with cold ambient temperatures which led the car’s computer to predict a range of only 200 miles.

[Related: Ford’s electric Mustang Mach-E is an important leap into the future]

The base high-performance Mach-E GT hits 100 km/h in just 3.8 seconds, while the even faster GT Performance Edition cuts that time to just 3.5.

This horse is electric. Ford

The GT’s electric motors create 480 horsepower in both versions, 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, as the regular GT can easily pull off some telltale launches.

The GT is faster than the lesser Mach-Es, whose acceleration time to 60 mph ranges from 6.1 seconds to as little as 4.8 seconds. Standards change, but I think anything faster than 8.0 seconds is still considered fast enough.

Non-GT Mach-Es can be equipped with the same 376-cell extended-range battery as this test car, or they can have the cheaper 288-cell 70kWh battery. In all-wheel-drive configuration, that can produce an estimated range of just 224 miles, while the GT’s largest pack can go 314 miles, according to the EPA.

Drivers who choose performance models like the GT normally appreciate crisp, responsive handling, and the GT delivers. They are also normally willing to endure the harsher ride caused by riding with stiffer springs, shocks and anti-roll bars.

These sacrifices are normally made by people who drive low-slung coupes and roadsters, not family-friendly five-passenger 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 type of vehicle. Naturally, this problem can be solved with the application of money, as the Performance Edition rolls on magnetically-adjustable Magneride dampers that help deliver the elusive combination of precise handling and a comfortable ride.

This stiffness issue is amplified by the GT’s fashionable 20-inch wheels, whose weight also contributes to a shorter range. The California Route 1 model’s 18-inch wheels are one reason for this version’s longer range, and the smoother ride will make those extra miles more comfortable.

It’s no surprise that the Mach-E, as an EV, has a flimsy rotary dial as a “shifter” to select drive mode. It rotates through the positions, left to right, Park, Reverse, Neutral and Drive. However, must he feel so fragile? The problem is underscored by the fact that it spins freely, with no solid stops at the Park and Drive ends of the range. By comparison, the Jeep Grand Cherokee’s similar rotary shifter manages to feel heavier in the hand; it’s decorated with chrome trim to add visual mass, and it positively stops when it reaches Park and Drive. This seems to be a better execution of this solution.

Ford isn’t very interested in revisiting its shifter solution on the Mach-E, according to chief engineer Donna Dickson. However, as customer expectations of electric vehicles change over time, the device will likely be redesigned, she says. “Do we even need one?” Dickson wonders.

the interior of the Ford Mach-E GT
Interior. Ford

Since popular science last drove a Mach-E a year ago Ford introduced its BlueCruise Level 2 driver assistance system. This allows the driver to drive the car with no hands on the wheel, but eyes on the road. Unlike Tesla cars, the source of YouTube videos showing “drivers” in 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 throttle, brake and steering when the car is on a limited-access highway that has been mapped and approved by Ford. This means just about every interstate highway, plus many other divided highways with 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 soon receive over-the-air updates.

In a conversation with Dickson, I mention that during highway driving, I saw the Mach-E sometimes bounce from side to side of the lane, sometimes to the point that the system would disengage. Dickson nodded, acknowledging the problem. “We call it hunting,” she said. “We have it [solved]. This is the one we fixed. Customer-facing Mach-E vehicles should no longer exhibit this behavior, and when the test car receives its update, it should perform better as well.

In heavy, interrupted road traffic, the system works well, relieving the driver of some of the burden of such driving. 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-by-year plan to improve BlueCruise,” Dickson said. “He is [coming] soon. We have changes planned for later this year.

Like all Mach-Es, the GT has a large central display screen for infotainment purposes. Ford’s innovative stick-on physical volume knob provides an excellent solution for volume control on a touchscreen system. But I’m not the only one who likes this device, and Dickson says we can look to expand the button’s capabilities in the future.

“There’s more to come,” she said. “We’re really trying to take advantage of that.” And these extended capabilities, like so many other features on these digital cars, will be available retroactively for cars purchased before the feature was introduced, through over-the-air software updates.

So look for the Mach-E GT, along with other Mach-Es and other future Ford EVs, to improve over time.

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