Words: Calvin Chan
Photography: Calvin Chan
Published: October 15, 2021
When driving and showing off the Mach-E to friends and family, it’s not the fact that it’s an electric Ford that surprises people, it’s the badge up front. The Mustang badge. Selling their souls to bean counters and overzealous marketers, Ford has placed their sacred pony badge onto their first fully-fledged EV. Some people love it, some people hate it, and we can debate about it all day but instead, let’s be a little more objective and see what the Mach-E is really like to drive, how it handles, and how it stacks up against similar EVs like the Tesla Model Y, Polestar 2, and Volvo XC40 Recharge.
First off, the range, because that’s what every prospective EV owner wants to know. The Mach-E is available in both RWD and AWD variants, with two battery options: 68 kWh battery with a claimed 370 km (RWD) and 340 km (AWD), and a larger 88 kWh battery with a claimed 483 km (RWD) and 435 km (AWD) of range.
The Mach-E we tested was loaded up with AWD and the 88 kWh extended battery, so with a full charge the trip computer gave us a reading of 470 km of expected range. More than the claimed 435 km. A full drive took us a little closer to the official rating - we clocked in 442 km on a full battery, but that also took into account highway driving that tends to drain the battery quite quickly, and also city driving which utilizes regenerative braking to juice it back with more electrons.
Charging from a standard household 12V socket isn’t exactly recommended but for some people (like us), it’s the only option. Hence, a 35% charge took us 38 hours. That means a full 0-100% charge will take roughly 114 hours, or just over 4 days. So if you drive frequently, you will want to install a Level 2 charger in your home. That, or make sure there’s a local station near you that you can use in a pinch.
With the extended battery, the Mach-E AWD produces a healthy 346 horsepower and 428 lb-ft of torque, and reaches 0-100 km/h in 5.1 seconds. It doesn’t feel like the quickest steed off the line but the instant acceleration when you’re out cruising is delightful. There is a ton of low-end torque to make it effortless to get up to speed, and the Mach-E doesn’t run out of breath or let up until you’re accelerating past 130 km/h. At that point you should probably be slowing down anyways. There is nothing terribly unique to report back in terms of driving dynamics, though. The Mach-E rides high up despite a low center of gravity, and it’s handling is average by EV standards, but should feel eager and darty for those transitioning over from a non-EV SUV.
The most disappointing area is the ride quality. The choppy, taxing, and jittery ride take away from its premium pretense, and underscores it with a more humble but not as comfortable SUV offering. Even on these 19-inch wheels, the Mach-E rumbles over pockmarked roads with little care to the occupants - even smaller EVs like the e-Golf and Nissan LEAF seem to ride better.
The Mach-E allows for one-pedal driving that heavily utilizes regenerative braking the moment you let off the throttle, but the strength cannot be adjusted like in other vehicles. Luckily, it’s quite progressive and easy to use, never jerking the car too hard forward when letting off the gas, and easing to a stop gradually yet effectively. No need to keep Gravol in the car anymore unless you have a twitchy right foot.
Despite the controversial Mustang badge, the Mach-E isn’t a bad looking vehicle. The sloping roofline creates a sleek visual effect, and it looks great from the rear three-quarters. The taillights remind us of the actual Mustang coupe, and it appears somewhat serpent-like and aggressive. And just to show how serious they are with the branding, you won’t find a Ford blue oval badge anywhere in the Mach-E.
The interior will remind you that this is a Ford, and not a BMW or Audi. There is nice leather lathered onto the seats and door panels but the remainder of the cabin is filled with flimsy plastic materials and low-grade craftsmanship that don’t do it any favours, but it just about falls in line with the offerings from Tesla. The faux carbon fibre dash and fabric materials add some unique appeal, as does the vertical-oriented touchscreen that seems to becoming the mainstream way of mounting them - the RAM 1500 and Subaru Forester are two that also use vertical landscape screens. It works well here, 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 it’s not the end of the world.
The rest of the interior is spacious and airy thanks to the massive glass panoramic roof. Rear seat accommodations are impressive as well, and my six-foot figure finds comfort in all five of the available seats. Typical of Fords, the heated seats and steering wheel warm up incredibly quickly and get piping hot within minutes. We’re really not sure why other automakers can’t or won’t ramp up the heat setting to this level - a godsend in the Canadian winters.
So why would you choose a Mach-E over any of its EV rivals? Well the badge for one. You don’t know how many Mustang owners have reached out and quipped about how they wanted to buy one just because of the pony label. So the marketing works. The starting price for a Mach-E isn’t bad either but you do have to remember this is the most expensive Mustang aside from a Shelby GT350 and GT500. The stiff ride that delivers an excess of vertical movement bothers us, as does its comfortable but humble interior craftsmanship, but the range is noteworthy with the extended battery, and it does look rather good. Objectively then, and despite its inherent shortcomings, the Mach-E is an impressive piece of kit. It doesn’t exactly stand out from the crowd, but it effectively blends in as a strong competitor.
Model: 2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E Premium AWD with 88 kWh Extended Battery
Paint Type: Infinite Blue
Base Price: $62,245
Price as Tested: $70,245
Length/Width/Height (mm): 4,713 / 1,881 / 1,624
Battery: 88 kWh
Horsepower: 346 hp
Torque: 428 lb-ft
Transmission: Single-speed automatic
Drive Configuration: AWD
Official Range: 435 km
Observed Range : 442 km