Yesterday at the launch for the 2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E, Ford gave journalists short rides in prototype models. Here’s what that was like.
The video above shows the full ride-along. It was short, and the car was a prototype Premium extended range model with all-wheel drive. That means it’s rated at 332 horsepower, 417 lb-ft of torque, and 270 miles of range. And zero to 60 mph should happen in the “mid five second range,” according to Ford.
Ford’s driver took me and another journalist on a little slalom run at an airport hangar area, and launched the car—which I bet weighs well over two tons, though Ford has not released curb weight figures—in “Unbridled” mode, the car’s version of a “sports mode.” Other Mach-E drive modes include “whisper” and “engage.” Slash Gear describes the three modes an article, writing:
The default is Whisper, dialing down the urgency of the accelerator pedal and allowing the EV to coast more when you lift off, rather than slow dramatically under regenerative braking. Engage is the next step up, leaving the Mach-E to drive “the way you would expect a Mustang to drive,” Ford says. Power arrives swifter as you hit the pedal, and “everything is little bit tighter.”
Finally, there’s Unbridled – though I prefer “Stampede” which was, going by the earlier version of the software that the test mule was running, Ford’s first name for the mode – for maximum performance. That’s the most aggressive setting, with the pedal map designed to bring out the speed as soon as possible. It also offers the most aggressive regenerative braking, and indeed the Mustang Mach-E can bring itself to a complete stop without you hitting the brake.
While I will say that getting a ride in a prototype is fun in itself, I didn’t find the Mach-E’s driving characteristics particularly exciting. The car didn’t feel that quick during the hard launch, nor did it feel like it handled the slalom with sports-car precision. It felt soft, I thought.
Granted, I had just spent the day driving the Ford Mustang Shelby GT350 and GT500, which are in a different league than the Mach-E in both handling and acceleration. Plus, my ride-along was super short, but nonetheless, my initial impression was “meh.” Even though I know that, deep down, crossover buyers will probably be content with it.
I also don’t know what I think about the “propulsion sound.” As you hear in the video above, it’s a low-pitched whirr with a whistle that sounds quite like an airplane taking off. We were at an airport, so this confused my mind, a bit.
Anyway, I can’t draw any conclusions based on a few seconds in the passenger’s seat of a prototype Mach-E, so we’ll have to wait to get some quality time behind the wheel before we can say whether this thing deserves its “Mustang” name.