We’ve been hearing it for a while now – the future of cars is electric. Whether that’s music to your ears or the worst news ever it’s hard to ignore the massive change sweeping through the automotive industry.
What started as a sprinkle of offerings in the EV market has now gathered momentum with nearly every major automaker planning to produce fleets of electrified cars.
Yes, the removal of internal combustion from our roads seems to be happening and even though EVs still account for just a small percentage of overall vehicle sales, more and more consumers are starting to understand the benefits that electric cars can offer versus their fossil-fueled counterparts. Many governments are on-board and automakers are busy toiling away improving the tech with each passing day.
As a die-hard auto enthusiast, I get how this might not sit well with some. After all, wringing out a properly tuned V8, hearing that basso rumble reverberating through the cabin, a product of perfectly timed explosions that you can feel is a deeply hedonistic experience.
It would seem then, that the enthusiasts have been forgotten and the auto industry is destined to crank out boring appliance after boring appliance and car culture as we know it is dead.
But that isn’t exactly true and if you’ve driven a modern EV you know what I’m on about. While the sound might be gone there’s a benefit electric motors provide that no internal combustion engine ever could—instantaneous torque. All of it available the second you push the go-pedal. In some powerful EVs, there’s so much torque and power that even the fastest gasoline-powered cars in the world struggle to keep up.
Tesla was the first to take electric cars truly mainstream and even though most are expensive playthings, they made the EV cool and they made them desirable. And that was the shift the consumer needed to see to really get behind this new form of propulsion.
Ford has made massive investments into this new electrified world, planning on spending $11 billion by 2022. And their first foray into the EV world seemed to come out of left-field.
When they announced that their first EV was going to be a crossover inspired by their most famous sports car, the Mustang, it was hard to take them seriously.
But Ford was
serious and now the all-electric Mustang Mach-E is here. And even if you don't like the name or the fact that a historical nameplate has been slapped onto what is the antithesis of a traditional sports car, it sure got your attention.
So without further ado, the following is what you need to know about Ford’s latest foray into the EV world.
It’s not a reconfigured Escape
I’ve seen this bandied about the internet: rumours that the Mach-E was a rebadged Escape, where the engineers modified the platform to work with the electric drivetrain, but that’s not the case. While that was the initial plan it was quickly scrapped. Apparently they couldn’t get the proportions and occupant space they were going for with the Escape platform so they went clean-sheet.
It looks like a Mustang on the outside
This is one of those vehicles where pictures absolutely do not do it justice. They don’t capture the sheet metal’s flowing lines, muscular bulges, and the way light bounces of the curves.
The design starts with the signature shark nose and Mustang-inspired pseudo-grille with the galloping pony emblem in the centre. The wheels have been pushed out to the corners and the wheelbase has been stretched, allowing for small front and rear overhangs. The hood is long and the roofline screams fastback with its downward rake, which would normally be bad news for rear seat occupants but it’s actually a clever illusion where the top bit of the roof is black masking the actual roofline.
The Mach-E also gets the Mustang’s hips. These sculpted rear haunches drive home the RWD bias of this electric crossover. In the back there are tri-bar taillamps that also get the signature sequentially lit turn signals. Size-wise it’s similar in proportion to a BMW X3 or Porsche Macan
It kinda sorta looks like a Mustang inside
There’s Mustang in here somewhere but it’s less obvious. The design touches, at first glance, reminded me of another electrified vehicle—the BMW i3. You get that same sense of lightness and airiness of that car but with a much more modern feel thanks to a giant 15.5-inch Tesla-like infotainment screen serving as the Mach-E’s command centre. A smaller rectangular screen serves as the instrument cluster and puts the most important readouts, like speed and range right in front of the driver.
Look closely and you’ll see the Mustang’s heritage in the design of the dashboard. They’ve done a good job maintaining that essence but at the same time pushing it into the future. Spanning the length of the dashboard is a B& O speaker array set up to look like a soundbar.
Materials used throughout are all pretty good, with most surfaces soft to the touch. I tapped and prodded everywhere I could as I do with most vehicles in search of hard cheap-feeling plastic but came up empty-handed.
Thoughtful features like a floating armrest can be raised to store bags or purses and all the materials are vegan-friendly, meaning that there is no option for leather seating surfaces. Not a bad thing as the synthetic material felt premium and supple.
You can get it in either standard or extended range
Two battery pack sizes will be available. Standard range models get a 75.7 kWh pack and Extended Range models get a sizable 98.8 kWh pack.
The battery cells itself are fairly standard lithium-ion units manufactured by LG Chem. There are 288 of them in the standard pack and 376 in the extended pack. Both packs are liquid-cooled, well protected in a waterproof casing, and have been tested in temperatures as low as -40 C.
Range estimates are 325km on the low end all the way up to 475 km depending on how you configure the Mach-E. And that brings us to the next point.
It’s rear-wheel drive like a Mustang should be with all-wheel drive as an option.
The base models will be RWD but you get the option of ordering them with power going to all four wheels.
RWD Mach-Es get a single motor mounted on the rear axle. Opt for AWD and you get an additional smaller motor on the front axle. Since there is no linkage or driveshaft between the axles, drive torque from each motor can be controlled independently for improved acceleration and handling.
The most powerful version of the Mach-E also gets dual motors but ditches the smaller front motor and replaces that with the bigger unit from the rear axle.
The longest range Mach-E is an Extended Range model with RWD and that can take you 475 km between charges. Option it with AWD and it drops to 425 km.
Standard range Mach-E’s will deliver about 355 km with RWD and 325 km in AWD trim.
There are five different Mach-E trims to choose from
Select: $50,495; Premium: $59,495; California Route 1: $64, 495; First Edition (Limited Series): $71,995; GT Performance Edition: $82,995.
AWD is available across the line; First Edition and GT Performance trims get extended range battery packs and AWD standard. The California Route 1 will come only in a rear drive configuration with the extended range battery.
It’s electric but it ain’t no slouch
The base Select trim with RWD produces 255 hp and more importantly 306 lb-ft of torque from the instant you tap on the accelerator pedal. That’s good for a 0-60 mph run in the low six-second range. AWD bumps torque up to 417 lb-ft and will shave about a second of that time.
Get in the GT Performance edition and things get a bit more serious. Power from the dual motors add up to 459 hp and 612 lb-ft of torque good for a 0-60 mph blast in the mid 3-second range. That’s about as fast as a Tesla Model 3
Performance, a Ferrari Portofino, or a Porsche 911 Carrera 4S
. It’s also about the same time that Ford quotes for its 760 hp Mustang Shelby GT 500. All great company to be in.
Dominating the cabin is that extra large 15.5-inch infotainment screen that gets an all-new version of SYNC.
Making it intuitive and smart was the goal and they’ve certainly done that. Thanks to the size everything you need like vehicle settings, entertainment options, and navigation is all on screen at the same time. There’s wireless Apple Car Play and Android Auto and it works in conjunction with SYNC letting you quickly switch back and forth between the systems or have them both displayed at the same time.
The system operates in a similar manner to most smartphones making it easy to use without the need to refer to an instruction manual.
The nav system is cloud-connected so you always get the latest maps and it will route you to your destination based on where the charging stations are located making range anxiety a thing of the past.
The system will also learn the habits of each user. Things like who you usually call on the way home from work, or what radio station you listen to. It all gets stored in individual profiles that get loaded as you walk up to the car. It will recognize you by your phone if you’re using Phone as a key tech or by the key fob. Furthermore, SYNC will be able to understand natural language commands like “I’m cold” or “find me a coffee shop along my route” and is activated by the passphrase “Ok Ford”.
The Mach-E will also benefit from bumper to bumper over-the-air updates and will get better over time as new features get introduced.
Multiple home charging options and access to the Ford Pass network
Standard with every Mustang Mach-E is a mobile charger that plugs into either a standard 120 V outlet or a more powerful 240 V outlet like the one your clothes dryer is hooked up to. On 120 V you get about 5 km of range an hour, jumping significantly to 35 km an hour on a 240 V plug.
Or you can get the optional Ford Connected charging station installed at your home. It’s a faster 48-amp charger capable of adding up to 51 km of range an hour.
Ford will also give you access to the largest charging network in North America through Ford Pass boasting over 12,000 stations, which is over 35,000 plugs including DC fast chargers.
The DC fast chargers will charge the Mach-E at a max rate of 150 kW adding about 76 km in just 10 minutes. Standard range Mach-Es can go from 10 to 80 per cent charge in 38 minutes.
Instead of drive modes there are drive experiences
There’s Whisper, Engage, and Unbridled. Each mode will alter power delivery and response, steering feel, lighting, sound, and graphical animations.
Whisper is the calm and serene experience, Engage turns up the wick for a sporty, dynamic drive, and Unbridled as the name suggests unleashes all the performance the Mach-E has to offer. They've even tuned the whine of the electric motor drawing inspiration from movies like Blade Runner and even Formula-E.
We were taken for short rides in a mid-range Mach-E premium, and I can’t really say if I noticed too much of what they were talking about. If you’ve driven an EV before the sound here isn’t all that different but you do a hear a slight warble in the background that gets deeper with speed. It's subtle but cool nonetheless.
What I did notice was good acceleration on the straights and excellent body control through a short slalom course that they set up. There’s only a small amount of roll in transitions but you do feel the weight of this crossover. Although from a passenger perspective it did feel relatively sporty and Ford apparently spent a considerable amount of time developing the Mach-E on the track. They say it's their best handling SUV to date but I will reserve judgement until I’m able to get my hands on one and drive it for myself.
GT performance models are obviously what you want to go for if speed is your thing, distinguished by the GT badge on the rear hatch, a unique grille, 20-inch forged alloy wheels, Brembo brakes, and Magneride suspension.
That crossover body might not be the Mustang you were hoping for but there’s no denying the added practicality that it offers. This is a Mustang for the entire family and everything they need to bring with them.
A sealed and insulated front trunk can hold a carry-on or weekend luggage, or you can fill it up with ice and use it as a cooler. Perfect for tailgate parties or camping the plastic-lined frunk can also be drained when the party is over.
Pop open the rear hatch and you’ll find a generous 822 litres of space, extending to 1689 litres with the rear seats folded. That’s more than what you get in a BMW X3
or even the Ford Edge
Occupant space benefits from a flat floor and two 6-footers, myself included, had no problem sitting in the back with ample leg and head room.
You can reserve your Mach-E online
Customers can head over to Ford.ca or their local Ford EV certified dealer right now and reserve their spot for the Mach-E. Expect deliveries to commence in late 2020.