Words: Calvin Chan
Photography: Calvin Chan
Published: March 1, 2022
Yeah we know, Ford’s prized pony badge is now plastered on an electric SUV but it’s time to get over it because the Mach-E GT is a serious piece of kit. What makes this GT trim any different from the regular Mach-E? No, it doesn’t have a V8 like the Mustang sports car, but it does add its electric equivalent: two larger permanent-magnet electric motors, one powering each axle for an AWD setup, as well as a 91-kWh lithium ion battery pack. Total output swells to an impressive 480 hp and 634 lb-ft of torque for a 0-100 km/h time of 3.7 seconds. That’s enough to outrun a BMW M2 CS and keep up with a Jaguar F-Type R, from a launch at least.
The GT receives larger Brembo brakes, MagneRide dampers with a revised suspension, and sleek 20-inch wheels - our test vehicle wore Pirelli Sottozero winter rubber. The front bumpers are more aggressive and flared, the closed grill adorns a mesh-like design, a large GT badge is plastered on the rear trunklid, and there’s an exclusive Cyber Orange paint colour like in our photographs - comes off more as yellow to us though. Inside are new sport seats with additional shoulder padding and a GT badge on the center armrest. All of this comes at a premium - the GT starts at $83,495, or $34,500 more than the most basic Mach-E.
Unfortunately, the overall electric driving range has taken a significant dip. Initially, a full 100% battery gave us an estimated range of 270 km on the gauges, but it never stayed consistent. The range dwindled significantly when we spent more time on the highway, where persistent high speeds drained the battery at a greater rate than during stop and go traffic. This was expected, but after an hour’s worth of highway cruising at a steady 100 km/h and after a full charge back to 100%, our total estimated range from 100% diminished down to a dismal 220 km.
Balancing it out with suburban traffic that took advantage of brake regeneration and one-pedal driving did not seem to affect the estimate at all, and it never creeped back up or even came close to the EPA estimated range of 418 km. At a 50% battery level, the GT gave us a paltry estimate of just 93 km, so it clearly leaves a lot on the table in terms of battery capacity, and shouldn’t be your primary mode of transportation unless your commute is short and you plan to charge it every night.
It’s a shame as the regular Mach-E AWD with the larger battery is rated at 435 km, and our own test yielded us 442 km. Such is the price of performance, right? But that isn’t always the case. The Tesla Model Y Long Range carries double the GT’s range, and other premium EVs like the Porsche Taycan and Audi e-tron trump the Ford as well, and stay more consistent even after driving at different speeds.
So is the tragic dip in range worth the performance? Not really. The biggest difference with the GT trim is its superior low-end thrust, and the almost violent acceleration when you stab the throttle. It’s far from theatrical especially without any real exhaust noise stimulating the ear drums, but there is so much instant kick that the GT’s significant curb weight is nearly rendered moot. Mid- and high-speed acceleration isn’t bad but the urgency and potency of acceleration seems to drop off a cliff once you get past 100 km/h. You have to remember that though the spec sheet says 634 lb-ft of torque, it’s spread out quite differently throughout the powerband than a combustion engine that huffs and puffs atmospheric air. We couldn’t help but think how much faster it would be if it lost a few pounds. Hilariously enough, underneath the digital speedometer reading it says ‘Ground Speed’, which did tempt us to get some air time with the Mach-E to see if its internal programming would cheekily switch it to ‘Air Speed’. We were disappointed.
The GT offers three driving modes to choose from - Whisper, Engage, and Unbridled - each ramping up the urgency of the electric motors and the throttle mapping, though we didn’t find much performance advantage or differences between them. Though, the latter two modes pipe synthesized propulsion noise into the cabin to make it sound like you are piloting a spaceship, but it’s not as convincing as the Taycan’s acoustics. It annoyingly drones on the highway too.
Safe to say, the Mach-E GT is a bit of a one trick pony - pardon the pun. Its center of gravity remains low thanks to the positioning of the batteries on the floorboard, but it doesn’t negotiate corners with much grace, and the steering is unnervingly numb and devoid of feel. Savage acceleration aside, we know we shouldn’t expect too much from an electric car, but when the Taycan feels almost alive under our fingertips, and when we know exactly when the grip is washing away, that really shouldn’t be an excuse.
And despite the revised suspension and dampers, the Mach-E GT still rides terribly stiff. It’s better than the standard Mach-E but when you encounter rougher roads, expansion joints, and potholes, the constant rumbling and sharp vertical movements takes its toll on occupants and undermines the premium pretense that Ford is trying to nail with this $90,000 electric offering. When compared to other mid-size SUVs with a wheelbase spanning nearly 3,000 mm, the GT is not very stable or grounded at cruising speeds. The chassis will wobble about and the front tires will wander when it catches a crosswind or when trailing a lorry.
The aesthetics and ergonomics of the Mach-E GT don’t make up for its shortcomings either. It’s not a bad looking SUV. Actually its silhouette is incredibly appealing from the side angle, and the taillights remind us of the Mustang sports car. You won’t even find a Ford badge anywhere on the vehicle, just going to show how serious they are with the branding.
The GT’s new performance seats are more comfortable with the extra shoulder padding on each side. Still, and like the regular Mach-E, the driving position is odd, with the seat bottom not able to recline back enough, so you always feel like you’re sitting on top of the car, rather than in it. The rest of the cabin is spacious and airy thanks to an open center console area and expansive sunroof. It’s inviting from a distance, and there’s nice leather stitched onto the seats and door panels, but up close reveals flimsy materials and a general sense of low-grade craftsmanship. Having a gear selector that wiggles around under operation doesn’t exactly scream quality.
The vertical-oriented touchscreen works well though it’s not the most responsive unit with periodic, second-long delays between button inputs, especially when first starting up the vehicle. Luckily, it doesn’t need to be mounted on an angle for it to be user-friendly, and we love how they kept with an actual volume dial and didn’t resort to touch-sensitive sliders. The latter is unfortunately still active for the climate controls, though, but we learned to live with it.
Not every buyer in today’s market can bend over and fall into a low-slung sports car, and for those older folks who still want a Mustang yet are forward-thinking enough to transition to a electric vehicle, then the Mach-E is an appealing choice. The GT trim elevates its charm and charisma but its sacrifice on range, unnervingly stiff ride, and half-baked interior doesn’t help its case. Its ferocious acceleration and sleek aesthetics will be enough for some, but whether or not performance or price is a priority, we think the standard Mach-E is all the pony you need.
Model: 2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E GT Performance
Paint Type: Cyber Orange
Base Price: $83,495
Price as Tested: $88,685
Length/Width/Height (mm): 4,743 / 1,881 / 1,613
Powertrain: 91 kWh lithium-ion battery, permanent dual motors
Horsepower: 480 hp
Torque: 634 lb-ft
Transmission: single-speed transmission
Engine & Drive Configuration: Front engine, eAWD
Claimed Range (EPA Estimate): 418 km
Observed Range: 270 km
Tires: Pirelli Sottozero, 20-inch tires