2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E GT Performance Edition Review: Taycan on a Budget
Want an EV with proper performance chops but can’t afford a Porsche Taycan? The Mustang Mach-E GT Performance is a compelling alternative.
Despite what its name might lead engineering-inclined folks to believe, the 2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E GT Performance Edition cannot travel at approximately 2.7 times the speed of sound. As far as my butt dyno is concerned, however, it’s not far off.
To anybody who has paid much attention to the recent generation of luxury EVs, though, this shouldn’t come as a surprise. Whether it’s a top-shelf Tesla, the Lucid Air, or most of the “legacy” OEM challengers like, say, the new 1000-horsepower GMC Hummer EV, chances are, a needlessly brief zero-to-60-mph time is part of the spec sheet. This one even dares to call itself a Mustang, so it’s really gotta be quick.
And it is. However, the Performance Edition Mustang Mach-E GT has a lot going for than just spleen-crunching straight-line pace. It seems to be perfectly laid out and proportioned for modern daily driver duties, is a genuinely striking thing to look at in the metal, and more than holds its own in the bends. Sound familiar?
Basically, if you can't afford a Porsche Taycan or a Tesla — which is understandable — this trim of Mustang Mach-E is shaping up to be your best alternative.
2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E GT Performance Edition Specs
- Base price (as tested): $67,995 ($75,350)
- Powertrain: Two permanent-magnet motors | 88 kWh battery | 1-speed transmission | all-wheel drive
- Horsepower: 480
- Torque: 634 lb-ft
- 0-60 mph: 3.5 seconds
- Curb weight: 4,989 pounds
- EPA Range: 260 miles
- Seating capacity: 5
- Cargo volume: 26.6 cubic feet | 59.5 cubic feet with seats folded | 4.7 cubic feet frunk
- Quick take: Not without its flaws, the most powerful Mach-E is ferociously fast, fun, frugal, and fascinating to look at. A lot like that other non-Tesla EV Of Note.
- Score: 8/10
In the context of Ford's lineup, the Mustang Mach-E basically fills the same role the Ioniq 5 does for Hyundai and the EV6 does for Kia. It exists to prove that the brand can indeed make a proper electric car and do it in an exciting-yet-practical way.
It’s technically a crossover, but not really in the same way the Escape and Edge are. The Mach-E looks bigger in photos than it actually is in real life; it's more of a tall hatchback than anything else. It's leaner-looking and lower-slung than those two family-hauler crossovers and doesn't seem to be made to fit into any of the traditional size-based SUV segments. It does its own thing.
The dual-motor all-wheel-drive GT is the 480-horsepower high-performance model and this Performance Edition is the even higher-performing version of that, bumping torque up from the regular GT's 600 pound-feet of torque to 634. It is the hottest Mach-E of the range—a Mach-E's Turbo S variant, if you will—and comes with unique 20-inch wheels housing bigger front brakes measuring 385 mm in diameter clamped down on by red Brembo calipers. MagneRide suspension is also part of the package, as are bolstered front seats by Ford Performance. It also happens to be the heaviest Mach-E available, tipping the scales at 4,989 pounds.
Before you even get in it, the Mustang Mach-E catches your eye. Not just because your brain goes, "Oh wow, that's the new Mustang Mach-E" but also because it is, in actuality, quite a striking-looking vehicle. Its front end is aggressive, its rear haunches are decidedly muscle-car-like, and, with the roof and side skirts blacked out to mask its visual heft, the whole thing looks way leaner than the average crossover. My tester's bright yellow paint and big wheels didn't hurt either.
Opening the door and hopping inside (which you do via pressing a button on the B pillar and pulling on the static door pull), the Mach-E's interior is appropriately modern and EV-like. Meaning the experience is dominated by two screens, one tiny thin one peeking through the top of the steering wheel and that vertically-oriented, 15.5-inch tablet in the middle. Firing the Mach-E up, though, its first "handshake" impressions stand to be improved.
The infotainment system, while not bad to navigate and make sense of once everything's loaded, takes a minute to get going properly upon startup, a bit like an aging Windows PC. The Mach-E's gear shift knob feels cheap-as-hell to the touch and turn, operating with a movement that brings to mind a plastic rotary toy phone you'd find at a dollar store.
On the other hand, nearly everything to do with the seats is commendably well-done. They're comfortable yet race car-y and fitted, the driving position is spot-on, and the heating function (along with the heated steering wheel) gets mighty hot. The optional single-pane glass roof makes the car feel very spacious sitting in the rear.
Driving the Ford Mustang Mach-E GT Performance Edition
The Mach-E GT Performance Edition may not be a Mustang in the traditional, two-door, V-8 muscle car sense. But that doesn't mean it isn't a proper performance car.
Its inputs are tight and serious-feeling, honestly making it feel a bit like that budget Taycan even when you're not necessarily driving quickly. When you are, though, the Performance Mach-E is silently and alarmingly effective at bursting down an empty road, whatever that road might look like. It isn't quite as brutal as a Taycan Turbo S or a Tesla with "Plaid" in its name but Ford's official stopwatch says this car gets from zero to 60 mph in 3.5 seconds — on par with the Taycan GTS and Tesla Model Y Performance, and, in the context of Mustangs, a mere 0.2 secs off the mighty Shelby GT500. But because I know zero-to-60 times like this can be hard to relate to in terms of real-world sensation, The Drive's Patented Seat-of-the-Pants-O-Meter® says the Mach-E GT Performance gets from reasonable speeds to "holy freaking crap" in, like, no time at all.
It wouldn't be a new, Very Important EV without some artificial e-vroom-vroom noises and the Mach-E is no exception. Delightfully, this electric Mustang's speaker-delivered voice doesn't aim to replicate the sounds of any internally-combusted Mustangs, of course, but its EV whirr is underscored by a muscle car-esque thrum that makes it quite unique. I had this switched on for the duration of my time with this car and, just like I'd do with an especially nice-sounding ICE car, found myself accelerating unnecessarily just to hear it do its thing.
When you stop needlessly flooring it and treat it as a companion for everyday commuting, the Mach-E GT is still mostly great—its world's-fastest-golf-cart demeanor means it's easy to place and multi-car highway passes are only a thought away. But perhaps as a compromise for its strong spirited-driving chops, it isn't quite as dead-easy to live with around town as, say, the aforementioned Ioniq 5 or EV6.
The brake pedal, for example, took a little getting used to. There's a bigger-than-expected dead zone at the top which then turns short and sensitive at the bottom of the travel. Parking-lot-speed steering is a little heavier than I would've liked, highway road noise is a little louder than I would've liked, and (possibly a symptom of this particular car being a well-worn press unit) there was an unpleasant scraping noise coming from the brakes whenever the car came to a complete stop. And, it has to be said, the ride is noticeably tauter than your typical crossover. Not harsh enough to be considered uncomfortable, really, but it's a communicative ride.
On the whole, the Mach-E GT is a satisfying thing to drive daily. If comfort takes top priority over speed for you, however, consider one of the less hardcore trims. Those are still plenty quick too.
The Highs and Lows
Remember when I said the Mach-E doesn't really fit into the existing crossover molds? Well, in my view, that is absolutely for the better because as a complete package, it is extremely well-judged. This car, as a layout and a driving machine, feels like what you'd get if an extremely talented engineer was commissioned to design a car for modern life — without having any prior knowledge or preconceived notions as to what a car, as an object, "should" look and be like.
It's high enough for ease of entry and exit, it's low enough to look and drive significantly less frumpily than the average crossover, and has enough room in the back for all your dependents and stuff. It's competent and fun through bends because, well, why wouldn't it be and can get up to highway speeds in no time at all for basically the same reason. Oh, and it's very quiet so it doesn't disturb the peace and runs on the same abundantly available substance that powers phones, microwaves, and washing machines. It's even got a drainable storage area upfront for shrimp/buffalo wing storage. Because eating out of the front of cars is what humans do. It is only logical.
Infrastructure obstacles that aren't really the car's fault and admittedly small execution qualms aside, the Mach-E GT as a daily driver is mighty hard to argue against.
Speaking of qualms, though, one of the biggest misses I found with this car would be Ford's BlueCruise semi-autonomous driving tech. Ford has mapped out almost 100,000 miles of North American highway on which BlueCruise can operate hands-free, but when it comes to the pure acts of keeping within a lane and maintaining speed and distance from a leading car, the system is middling at best and not nearly as confidence-inspiring as some hands-on systems out there (like, for example, the ones employed by the Hyundai Group, Volvo, or Mercedes-Benz) to say nothing of GM's significantly more competent hands-free Super Cruise system or BMW's new autobahn-grade offering that will come in the new 7 Series and electric i7.
Going down a completely straight stretch of highway, the Mach-E's steering wheel nervously and constantly corrected itself while the cruise function did not seem to detect a car closely cutting in front of it. In low-speed rush hour traffic situations, the automated braking felt abrupt and unnatural while setting off again was done only after an agonizing, gap-losing delay. It just isn't a very reassuring system and not something I'd use very often if at all unless Ford issues some significant improvements (which it can theoretically do via over-the-air updates).
In a sense, it encapsulates the state of cutting-edge cars in 2022: EV performance is really coming along, the charging experience leaves a lot to be desired in most places, and driver assistance systems fall well short of the eventual promise of so-called autonomous cars. Then again, Rome wasn't built in a day.
Ford Mustang Mach-E GT Performance Features, Options, and Competition
In the U.S. the Mustang Mach-E as a whole starts at $43,895 for a base Select model, but the high-performance GT will cost at least $61,995. Opting for the Performance Edition will tack on an additional $6,000. Standard equipment on all GT Performance Edition cars includes a Bang & Olufsen audio system, heated and eight-way powered memory front seats, wireless charging, ambient interior lighting, LED exterior lighting front and rear, rain-sensing wipers, and active grille shutters. My tester was optioned with the $1,500 glass roof option, $795 worth of orange paint, and the $1,900 assisted-driving pack that encompasses Active Park Assist 2.0, a 360 camera, and, of course, BlueCruise.
Keen-eyed readers will spot that the car in the pictures here is, in fact, a Canadian-market car. But according to our research, an identical one purchased in the U.S. would cost $75,350 including destination and before any government incentives. Per Ford Canada's provided window sticker, Canuck customers would be looking at a pre-tax invoice of $90,680.
The Mach-E GT Performance may have reminded me of a lower-tax-bracket Taycan, but it's also a league too powerful and expensive to compete directly with the currently-available versions of the Ioniq 5 or EV6. Faster variants of those cars are on their way, however. The forthcoming 577-hp Kia EV6 GT could give the GT Perf Mach-E a good run for its money, at least on paper.
For now, then, this car's closest competitor would be the aforementioned Model Y Performance from Tesla, which starts at around $63,000 and hits 60 mph in exactly the same amount of time. The Model Y boasts a more impressive EPA-rated range of 303 miles (versus this Mach-E's 260) and, of course, has access to the company's extensive network of public Superchargers.
The Mach-E GT Performance may be officially rated for 260 miles of range. But because I tested this car in the Canadian winter, the actual, observed range was quite far off from that figure. Hopping into it for the first time, for example, 75 percent battery was only good for 125 miles of onboard computer-predicted range, which works out to less than 170 miles from a would-be full charge.
Charge times also took a huge hit in the cold. Ford advertises the ability to go from 10 to 80 percent charge in 45 minutes on a DC fast charger but plugging this car into one of those in below-freezing conditions, it took precisely 41 minutes to go from 58 to 80. Extrapolating, it would've taken more than two hours to get to 80 percent from 10. Bottom line: Unless you have a dedicated place to charge at home overnight or at work during the day — or, you know, you live in California — the public charging infrastructure just isn't up to snuff yet for non-Tesla EVs like the Mach-E to really be a viable single-car solution.
If you do have a home charger, however, here are the efficiency specs to know. Assuming 33.7 kWh is equivalent to a gallon of gasoline, the Performance Edition electric Mustang gets a combined 82 mpge, logging 88 mpge in the city and 75 on the highway. Noticeably less efficient than the currently available Hyundai Group siblings, naturally, but also less green than the competing Tesla, which is apparently good for 111 mpge combined.
How's Ford doing on the sustainability front in general? Well, the Mach-E is anything but a flash in the pan or a one-off experiment. Joining it and the E-Transit van very soon is the much-anticipated F-150 Lightning electric pickup. When it comes to the impending internal combustion bans, Ford is shaping up to be one of the better-prepared automakers, with the company investing billions of dollars into EV and EV battery production and some strategic, long-term nickel purchases that should allow it to avoid supply chain-related price hikes that are plaguing other electric car manufacturers.
Value and Verdict
When I started writing this review, I vowed to not touch upon the whole "Is it a real Mustang?" ordeal because that question is, frankly, exhausting. But I'm gonna address it anyway because I feel like I've come up with a pretty insightful answer.
If you ask me, it all depends on your personal idea of what exactly a Mustang is. Is a car only a Mustang if it’s a two-door, low-slung Ford 2+2 with a V8 up front and power going to the rear? Then, no, the Mach-E isn't a real Mustang (and neither is the four-cylinder Mustang EcoBoost, for that matter). However, if your definition of Mustang is merely "a more working-class-attainable Blue Oval alternative to fancy pants Porsches," then yes, the Mach-E is absolutely a real Mustang. Except it's not setting out to undercut Caymans or 911s. It's bringing the Taycan Cross Turismo experience to the relative masses.
Because there's no such thing as a free lunch, of course, build quality and interior materials are still a world apart from that German, gold-crested EV. But the Mach-E GT Performance Edition is thrillingly, excessively quick in its own right, a genuine performer in the bends, and a perfectly practical steed every day. It's also quite striking to look at and boasts a healthy amount of tech with varying degrees of quality.
In other words, the Mach-E is as much a "real Mustang" as the Taycan is a "real Porsche."
Got a tip or question for the author? You can reach him here: email@example.com