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Off-Road Mustang? Ford Is Watching Reaction to Mach-E Rally Closely

Ford didn’t build out a permanent rallycross course at its proving grounds for nothing, folks.
2024 Ford Mustang Mach-E Rally
James Gilboy

The 2024 Ford Mustang Mach-E Rally is a terrific new flavor of performance EV that channels the spirit of the Subaru WRX—or Focus RS. If you miss when rally-inspired cars like them were more common, then turn your attention to Ford. It’d be glad to make more vehicles like those, provided people respond well to its first new attempt in years.

So I heard from the Mach-E’s program manager Peter Schultz, whom I spoke to while testing the Mach-E Rally at DirtFish Rally School. Schultz suggested that the rallycross circuit Ford built at its Michigan Proving Grounds for the Mach-E Rally’s development could be reused for future vehicles, and that can mean only one thing: more road-going rally machines, albeit only under certain conditions.

2024 Ford Mustang Mach-E Rally
2024 Ford Mustang Mach-E Rally. James Gilboy

“So, Chris [Berchin, off-road attributes engineer] and some of our team from the Michigan Proving Grounds actually scoped out a location and they designed their own rallycross track at our proving grounds at MPG,” Schultz told me. “They did a lot of work to really make a quality course there. And not only did they build the course, but they had sort of established a new corporate test procedure. They set a precedent that didn’t exist before. So, it was a lot of innovation to create this test and like, ‘hey, we have this incredible resource and our proving grounds is a fantastic facility, and now’s just one more thing that we can do with the proving grounds here.'”

Now that Ford has a rallycross test track and a rallycross testing procedure (which simulates a decade of regular racing), it has all the means to make more mixed-surface dynamos like the Mach-E Rally. According to Schultz, if people respond well, Ford could deliver additional cars like it.

“If Ford sees really strong reaction from this, maybe we can try to convince a few more teams to maybe do something new. We’ll see,” Schultz said. “But now that it’s there, it’s like now the whole realm of possibilities that weren’t there before, it just opens it wide up.”

“I think especially the Lamborghini [Huracan Sterrato] and the Porsche [911 Dakar]—people are getting excited about those kinds of products and stuff. Maybe like the ‘safari all the things‘ movement, you might have seen that in some places and stuff. So, people are really interested in this.”

2024 Ford Mustang Mach-E Rally
2024 Ford Mustang Mach-E Rally. James Gilboy

Sidewinding off-road vehicles are something Ford does particularly well right now, as represented by its desert-running lineup of F-150, Ranger, and Bronco Raptors. The obvious next choice to bridge the gap between them and the Mach-E Rally is something like the Maverick, which is expected to get a sport truck variant soon. A lifted, recalibrated version of that could be a superb sub-Raptor truck.

Other strong candidates include the related 2.0-liter Bronco Sport, the larger Explorer ST, or even the “real” V8 Mustang itself—even if CEO Jim Farley recently said he’s “not so sure about that.” There was supposed to be an all-wheel-drive version at one point, though odds are people would be fine with it staying rear-wheel-drive too. You’ll get the tail out easier that way, and that’s kind of the entire point of cars like these. Better yet if it has four doors and a manual, but I won’t cross my fingers.

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