There comes a moment, while driving any new electric car with sporting pretensions, where you settle in, take a shifty glance around you, and pin the throttle. Electricity races from the battery to the motors, which spin the wheels with startling ferocity. You feel that seamless torque surge and enjoy the brief hints of instability, the little wiggles as the car feels like it’s about to break traction, yet always recovers instantly, as though nothing were ever wrong.
I had many such moments driving the new Mustang Mach-E over the Thanksgiving holiday, when roads were much quieter than normal for this time of year, allowing plenty of room to evaluate the racy steed. The new car debuts this month, a little more than a year after its reveal. We’ve already gone over the technology in detail, so now it’s time to try it on actual roads. The key questions: How is it as a car? How is it as an electric car? And how is it as an electric Mustang?
First, a refresher: The Mach-E comes in both standard and extended-range variants, in either single-motor rear drive or dual-motor all-wheel drive. Its permanent magnet motors deliver, in the AWD First Edition version I tested, 346 horsepower and 428 pound-feet of torque. It has an EPA-validated range of up to 300 miles with the 88-kWh extended-range battery pack, or as low as 211 miles with the standard 68-kWh pack with all-wheel drive. The First Edition model delivers 270 miles of range, and a 4.8-second 0-60 time. The GT Performance version, expected next year, will arrive with 480 horsepower, 634 pound-feet of torque, and a 0-60 time of 3.5 seconds.
Starting at $42,895 (the First Edition is $58,300), the car is unmistakably a crossover, with a roomy back seat, plenty of storage space in the trunk, and a bit more in the “frunk” underneath the hood. It features the sultry lines of a car modeled after an aggressive street machine that’s been reenvisioned for smooth aerodynamics and minimal wind noise. The look won’t appeal to everyone, but it’s distinctive and it avoids the trap of trying to look too much like the model that inspired it. It’s very much its own thing, which is to Ford’s credit. The grille treatment is particularly successful, solving a tricky problem of how to make the front of the car look appropriately performance-oriented absent the need for voluminous air intake. The pony logo looks just fine on there.
The Mustang is plenty comfortable and easy to be in, with a smartly designed interior, though with slightly unintuitive button/handle combos in place of conventional door handles. People have to stare at them for a second to figure them out. The new SYNC 4A infotainment system is, honestly, a revelation, offering one of the best and most user-friendly interfaces on the road, with a 15.5-inch screen and a tile system that dispenses with the multilayer menus that can drive people insane. It adapts to each user’s preferences, including suggestions as it learns your routes, and it will be updated over the air repeatedly.
Of course, it also has EV-specific functions baked into the infotainment system. These include options to schedule charges during less costly off-peak hours, battery status and charge rate intel, and controls that can prep the cabin temperature while charging to minimize the battery drain once the trip starts. Most features can be controlled remotely via the smartphone app. The system also includes an efficiency analysis. On one 200-mile trip on both highway and suburban streets, I achieved 2.7 miles per kWh, shy of the 4.1 the Tesla Model 3 is capable of, but consistent with many competitors and reflecting my fairly aggressive driving. Under light use, I routinely saw 3.2 miles per kWh.
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