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The 2021 Mustang Mach E: A Mustang or not?

2021 Mustang Mach E

2021 Mustang Mach E at a glance

Seating5
EngineDual electric motors with 346 net horsepower
Battery88-kWh
0-100 km5.1 seconds (source: Ford Canada)
Tech featuresAdaptive cruise control, wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, Level 2 driverless (late availability), B&O Play sound system
Price as tested (estimate)(MSRP Canadian)$72,090

Ford Canada provided a Mustang Mach E for this review

To answer the question, “what is the 2021 Mustang Mach E,” is to step into the more significant debate of automotive enthusiasm and the electrification of the industry. If Ford wanted to get away with calling an electric SUV a Mustang, it needed to be good. There need to be traces of design heritage. Drivers would need to feel the essence of what the name Mustang has become to represent. So, we spent a week with the 2021 Mustang Mach E Premium to put this thing to rest. Look out, Tesla, your Model Y has a real competitor on the market, and it’s a Mustang.

What’s in a name

It’s hard to get past the Elephant in the room, so let’s address it right off the bat. Ford made quite a stir, not least among its Mustang community, by giving their flagship EV both the Mustang and Mach names. But, in the spirit of what a Mustang is, Ford insists that the 2021 Mustang Mach E earns its status. The question is a lot like most things. It ultimately comes down to subjectivity. To the author, a Mustang represents a performance vehicle that offers exhilarating driving at a cost most can afford. How does the 2021 Mustang Mach E slot into this definition, then?

Well, as a performance car, the Mustang Mach E that we drove leaves no doubts about its capability. Using the term “Mach” feels suitable, given how fast it accelerates on the highway. Unfortunately, Dual-motors and a lot of weight make pulling off elevensies nearly impossible, despite having 428 lb-ft of torque available immediately. Our test model came fitted with the extended-range battery and increased horsepower, giving it a claimed 0-100 km/h time of 5.1 seconds (0-60 mpg in 4.8). Ford claims the 2021 Mustang Mach E GT Performance Edition does that in 3.7 seconds, quickly taking on its Tesla rivals. But is the cost of the Mustang Mach E accessible to all? At a touch over $72,000 Canadian as tested, EV performance is still out of reach for most car buyers.

2021 Mustang Mach E, electric boogaloo

Debating about the name aside, and trust me, the 2021 Mustang Mach E created no shortage of debates from passers-by; how is Ford’s first real EV? In short, excellent. Road handling is sharp and responsive, even though the Mach E is lugging around an 88 kWh battery underneath. The range on the larger battery is about as advertised at about 420 km to a full charge. It’s more than enough to eliminate most of the range anxiety often associated with electric cars. Our test of the 2021 Mustang Mach E involved doing more driving than most. Yet, at no point was there any urgency to charge up. In fact, at no point in the test did we use the Level 1 at-home charger that came with it, finding the local fast-charging station more than sufficient to boost the charge enough to finish the week.

A driving style that is foreign to most ICE drivers is something called one-pedal driving. I often describe it as the kind of experience you get driving an electric golf cart, only exaggerated. The weight of the electric motors creates some strong stopping force while recharging the batteries. In standard mode, the 2021 Mustang Mach E manages this for you, modulating the regenerative braking in tandem with traditional brakes. However, the Mach E lets you switch to one-pedal mode, allowing the driver to modulate the speed using only the go pedal. It takes a bit of finesse, but the result is very efficient city driving. The Mach E automatically engages the brakes to hold at stops and activates the brake lights during regenerative braking. However, there is no engine creep in this mode, so it’s up to the driver to simulate that by feathering the right pedal.

A foot in both worlds

The Mach E strikes a beautiful balance between the high-tech modern design and familiarity of what a car should be. Dashes and dials are all replaced by screens, including a large, table-style screen command center. But, the user interface is clean and straightforward, with large buttons that make sense to most drivers. You don’t spend much time searching for what you want to set. A large dial at the bottom-center of the screen gives you control over the volume, an excellent analog touch in a digital world. Gear selection gets made via a large dial on the center console, a recent trend in shift-by-wire systems that we’re still not fans of. Speed and charge information gets displayed on a small LCD screen in front of the driver. At the same time, some would have no issues with it, but if you’re taller than five foot eight inches, the steering wheel cuts into the display. The steering wheel can’t be raised or lowered because of the eye-tracking tech (we presume). I couldn’t see the speed I had set the cruise to without moving quite a bit to the side.

All 2021 Mustang Mach Es feature Ford’s updated Co=-Pilot 360 2 system and include the prep for their upcoming BlueCruise. BlueCruise is a Level 2 driverless system that can operate the vehicle for you on over 110,000 roads in North America. Updates enabling BlueCruise happen over the air in cars sold before availability. Eye-tracking technology makes sure you’re still engaged and active behind the wheel, so you can’t take that commuter nap just yet.

The future is now, and it’s a Mustang

It’s hard to summarize the 2021 Mustang Mach E without dwelling on internal combustion versus electric arguments or Mustang Mach E versus Mustang. But, when you put those philosophical debates aside and look at the Mach E for what it is, there’s only one conclusion you can make. Without sounding cliché, the Mach E is a Tesla Model Y “killer.” A driving experience unlike any other vastly outshines its few weaknesses. This SUV feels like a sports car, is as comfortable as a Lincoln, and as techy as any silicon-valley product. Extended-range batteries make the 2021 Mustang Mach E something you can comfortably do daily. If there’s room in your budget for the cost of entry, this is the best EV your money can buy today.

If this is what the future looks like, we’re all for it.

Dan Croutch
the authorDan Croutch
Dan is a freelance automotive and technology writer. He enjoys all things pickup trucks, classic cars, and minivans (really). The intersection of vehicles and technology fascinate him.

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