Bobbing and weaving its way north through quaint towns like Stinson Beach, Tomales and Point Reyes, California’s Pacific Coast Highway offers not only great scenic views but also some of the best driving you’ll find anywhere in the country. That’s all the more so when you’ve got the right car.
Last week, my ride of choice was the Mustang Mach-E GT. Barely a year after Ford launched its first long-range battery-electric vehicle, the Mach-E is back in higher-performance form and I was lucky enough to snag some time behind the wheel of the GT as well as the even more sporty GT Performance Edition.
While Ford was an early pioneer in the electrified vehicle market, it fell behind not only Tesla but also archrival General Motors when it came to putting a long-range BEV on the market. When it finally showed up to the party, it did so in style, the 2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E winning kudos as North American SUV of the year, among other awards.
The initial version was offered in two forms: a single-motor package and a twin-motor, all-wheel-drive option. For 2022, Ford is upping the performance ante with not only the Mach-E GT, but also the even more powerful GT Performance Edition which delivers a hefty 480 horsepower and 634 pound-feet of torque.
For those who questioned whether an all-electric vehicle — and an SUV, at that — could ever deserve to share the Mustang badge with Ford’s traditional pony coupe, the GT pair makes it much harder to dismiss the Mach-E. Despite its added height and mass, the GT’s handling might make you forget you’re driving an SUV, and the Performance Edition actually beats the vaunted GT500 coupe on a run from 0-60 mph.
Subtle exterior tweaks also make the 2022 model one of the most attractive of the new BEV SUVs, certainly when compared to the segment’s best-selling, albeit awkward Tesla Model Y.
When Ford set out to develop its first long-range BEV, it was far from certain there’d be any market for it. Tesla proved that theory wrong and Ford’s senior management wisely decided to shift course. The initial plan was to develop a relatively anonymous “compliance car,” a vehicle that could be dumped into California and a handful of other markets in order to meet increasingly stringent mileage and emissions standards.
Instead, Ford’s newly created Team Edison set out to develop a vehicle with real performance chops and a good design to boot. They also took the controversial decision to model — and name — it after the familiar Mustang coupe.
There are the familiar design cues, front to back, including the sequentially flashing rear taillights and what, at first glance, appears to be a steeply raked roofline. But there is, as the art community would put it, plenty of trump l’oeil elements clearly meant to fool the eye. The most significant is the two-tier, two-tone roof that manages to make the overall cabin seem lower and sleeker without sacrificing interior space.
As with the lower tier models, what you might call a grille is really just part of the fascia, as there’s no need to send air into what is no longer an engine compartment. But the GT adds a textured, carbon-gray honeycomb pattern that is more distinctive and menacing than the body-colored version found on the lower level Mach-E models. It’s accented by a new, backlit version of the classic Mustang pony ornament. Below the bumper, twin intakes do send cooling air to the battery pack and motors — which can work up plenty of heat when you’re driving hard.
From the back end, the GT gets an enhanced diffuser and new badging, while a side profile reveals air curtains for the front wheels, blackened wheel arches and rocker panels, as well as the fact that the GT rides almost a half-inch lower than the base Mach-E models.
The GT now rides on 20-inch wheels and tires, and they’re an inch wider than those on the earlier models. The new wheels feature a distinctive, five-oval pattern and are shod with Continental all-season rubber. The Performance Edition opts for a multi-faceted machined alloy wheel pattern wearing stickier, specially designed Pirelli summer tires.
Like the earlier versions, the Mach-E GT provides an expansive cabin no longer requiring you to apologize to anyone stuck in the rear seats. And the two-tier rough design translates into plenty of headroom, even someone with my 6’2” height.
All told, there’s 29.7 cubic feet of cargo space, jumping to 59.7 cf with the back row folded down. If that’s not enough, there’s a roomy “frunk” under the hood big enough for a small roller bag — and sealed so a motorist could load up with ice and beverages for a tailgate party, with a drain at its base, of course.
The overall cabin appearance of the GT isn’t much different from the base Mustang Mach-E — which isn’t a bad thing. The appearance is handsome, yet minimalist. A floating digital gauge cluster rides just behind the steering wheel. A vertically oriented 15.5-inch touchscreen, meanwhile, sits atop the center console and handles the vast majority of vehicle functions.
Among the features justifying a nearly $6,000 premium for the Performance Edition, Ford adds on some well-bolstered seats that keep you firmly in place during even the most aggressive driving maneuvers. Both GT variants get new interior badging, suede accents and copper stitching.
When the Mach-E came to market late in 2020 it offered two options: The base model was kitted out with a single motor on the back axle and a 68 kilowatt-hour battery making 266 hp and 317 lb-ft. With the long-range 88 kWh battery that jumped to 290 hp and 317 lb-ft. A mid-range model added a second, small motor on the front axle to create an all-wheel-drive system. With the long-range battery, it could punch out 346 hp and 428 lb-ft.
The Mach-E GT takes things to a new level. It now gets two of the bigger motors, one on each axle, producing a combined 358 kilowatts — or 480 hp — and 600 lb-ft of torque. That will get you to 60 in just 3.8 seconds, while the Performance Edition, with an additional 34 lb-ft of torque, cuts the launch time down to 3.5 seconds. To put that into perspective, that’s faster than the Tesla Model Y Performance package as well as the V-8-powered Mustang GT500.
As with virtually every BEV now on the market, power is directed through single-speed gearboxes. The Mach-E GT can use torque vectoring, meanwhile, to help steer you through a corner.
With 19,500 stations operating 63,000 plugs, Ford claims to have access to the largest charging network in the U.S. Owners will be able to “Plug & Charge” at ports operated by Electrify America. That means billing will be handled automatically once the charger and vehicle are connected. Chargers operated by other companies are set to follow. Mach-E uses a 400-volt electrical architecture allowing users to go from a 10% state of charge to 80% in just 45 minutes at the newest Level 3 public quick-charging stations.
As for range, the GT does sacrifice a bit for the added performance. It still manages a reasonable 270 miles between charges, the Performance Edition dropping to 260.
EV owners today do the vast majority of their charging at home. That’s not expected to change, even as more public chargers become available. The base charger offered with the GT will let a driver add 20 miles an hour from a 240-volt line. The upgraded Ford Connected Charger bumps that up to 28 miles per hour. All versions of the Mach-E can also plug into public DC quick chargers.
Safety and Technology
The huge touchscreen display that dominates the IP runs a special version of Ford’s Sync 4 operating system, here getting features useful for an EV owner. Among other things, its navigation package can be set up to guide you to charging points along your route so you’re always ensured enough power. You also can use the system to operate various vehicle functions remotely, such as setting the time you want to begin charging — or pre-heating or cooling your cabin while you’re still plugged into a charger.
Mach-E has an effective voice control system that recognizes common speech, rather than requiring you to learn oft-quirky commands. But that screen is your primary interface with the car.
From a performance and handling perspective, the Performance Edition delivers the extremely useful MagneRide adaptive damping system. Without diving too deep into the underlying science, electromagnets constantly vary the way the “magnetorheological” fluid used in the dampers can flow. And it all happens quickly — they can switch anywhere from soft to hard as a rock in the time it takes to travel about two inches at 60 mph.
It’s become an industry norm to offer selectable drive modes on today’s vehicles, and Mach-E is no exception. All versions of the car feature “Whisper,” which is quiet and calm, Ford says. “Engage” kicks things up a bit with a more aggressive throttle response and synthesized driving sounds meant to replace what you’d normally get from a Mustang’s V-8. “Unbridled,” as you’d expect, takes the gloves off. The throttle is easy to tickle, steering tightens up and, if you’ve got the Performance Edition, the adaptive suspension tightens up.
Both GTs, meanwhile, add “Unbridled Extend.” Essentially, it shaves just a wee bit off of peak acceleration but the trade-off is worth it. Run in standard Unbridled for more than about 10 minutes and the Mach-E’s drive control system will cut performance rather sharply to avoid overcooking the motors and battery pack.
The Mach-E GT also will offer Ford’s new BlueCruise hands-free driving system in the not-too-distant future. Customers can order the optional hardware now and then wait for an over-the-air software update to activate the system when it’s ready. The OTA technology will allow Ford to update virtually every line of code on the vehicle, incidentally, not only fixing potential problems but also adding new features.
As impressive as the horsepower and torque might seem, numbers actually understate what the Mach-E GT delivers. Torque comes on instantaneously with electric motors. So, mashing the Performance Edition’s throttle creates an immediately visceral feel throughout the body, much like launching down a dragstrip in a funny car. I can best describe it as an exhilarating panic. And with a single-speed transmission, that acceleration didn’t begin to let up until I was approaching triple digits.
Later, when driving on U.S. 101 through Marin, the GT effortlessly provided all the muscle I needed to execute quick passes. But if the SUV only provided straight-line acceleration I wouldn’t have been nearly as impressed.
The Mach-E mounts its big battery pack and motors below the load floor, in a skateboard-style architecture. And, with that platform 10 mm lower than the mainstream SUV, all that heft actually provides an advantage, creating an extremely low center of gravity and a near-perfect weight distribution, front-to-back.
It proved surprisingly easy to flog both versions of the GT around the contorted Pacific Coast Highway, though the incredible responsiveness of the Magneride system was a clear winner in both tight turns and on uneven pavement. It also helped smooth out the bumps during more leisurely driving on local roads and highways.
The wider GT wheels were another plus, especially when shod with those sticky Pirelli tires on the Performance Edition.
And the package was capped off by bright red Brembo split-caliper brakes up front on both GT models. The Performance Edition features larger, 385mm rotors. As with all modern BEVs, the Mach-E actually uses a “blended” brake system. Initially, as you press down on the pedal, the motors transform into generators, recapturing energy that’s then sent back to the battery pack. Press down harder and the friction brakes kick in. Unlike some BEVs I have driven lately, the shift from regen to friction brakes was all but seamless.
2022 Ford Mustang Mach-E GT specifications:
|Dimension||L: 186.7 inches/W: 74.1 inches/H: 63.5 inches/Wheelbase: 117.5 inches|
|Powertrain||Dual motor 88-kWh battery; 1-speed automatic transmission e-AWD|
|Performance Specs||480 horsepower and 600 pound-feet of torque|
|Price||Base price: $59,000; As tested: N/A|
|On-Sale Date||Available now|
As one of the jurors on the NACTOY, the North American Car, Truck and SUV of the Year, jury, I can reveal that the original Mustang Mach-E won my vote last year. The new GT clearly takes things to new levels.
At a starting price of $59,000 before delivery fees, with the Performance Edition bumping that to $64,900, it’s a reasonable price to pay, whatever the source of power motivating its wheels. The 2022 Mustang Mach-E GT is attractive, roomy, technologically sophisticated and an absolute blast to drive. It’s both quicker and more attractive than the Tesla Model Y Performance pack.
If it catches your eye, don’t wait to place an order. Ford struggled to meet demand for the 2021 model and company officials claim they’ve already stacked up orders since opening the books for the 2022. I’ve heard from early customers the wait could take a few months.
Several months ago, Ford announced plans to nearly triple spending on EVs and, a few weeks back, it announced an $11.4 billion investment in new battery plants and a massive assembly complex. If the automaker can continue delivering products as on target as the Mach-E GT, it will clearly make up for lost time.
2022 Ford Mustang Mach-E GT — Frequently Asked Questions
How fast is the Mustang Mach-E GT?
The 2022 Mustang Mach-E will launch from 0-60 in 3.8 seconds, but that drops to 3.5 seconds with the optional Performance Edition — which also adds stickier tires, the Magneride suspension and sport seats. That’s faster than a Tesla Model Y Performance version and a conventional Mustang GT500.
Is the Mustang Mach-E GT reliable?
The base Mustang Mach-E models have had a couple recalls, not unusual for a first-time product line. Initial results suggest the battery car is generally reliable, however, and recently was a winner in the J.D. Power APEAL study.
Is the Mach-E worth it?
You clearly pay a bit of a premium for EVs right now, though the gap between a conventional Mustang and Mustang Mach-E narrow quite a bit when factoring in the $7,500 in federal tax credits. Direct comparisons can be misleading, as the Mach-E GT is actually faster and has more features than the V-8-powered Ford Mustang.