Slapping the “GT” badge on anything should say something about that vehicle. It should mean that it’s going to be quicker, sportier and more fun to drive than the theoretical “LX” or “S” trim levels of that car. Ford takes the GT moniker very seriously, especially when it’s mentioned in the same breath as “Mustang.” The Mustang GT has for decades been the standard bearer for such a model — more power, more style, more capability and more speed. So when Ford adorned its five-seat, all-electric SUV with the Mustang name, a GT model was to be expected. And for 2021, it’s here: not one, but two versions of the new Mustang Mach-E that have been graced with the GT badge. And the practice remains the same: more power, more speed, more style … and more money.
Over the years, the price of the Mustang GT has crept up and up, and the Mach-E is no different. These are the most expensive versions of Ford’s new electric vehicle, but they’re also the quickest and most powerful. With the basic Mustang Mach-E no slouch in the speed and handling department (see the review of that version), I came to San Francisco to drive the new 2021 Mustang Mach-E GT and GT Performance Edition to see if they’re worth the extra coin.
All GT models are dual-motor, all-wheel-drive versions of the Mustang Mach-E (or the “MME,” as the kids call it these days). The GT makes 480 horsepower and 600 pounds-feet of torque, and gets an EPA-estimated 270 miles of range, while the GT Performance Edition gets a slightly different front motor that brings system torque up to 634 pounds-feet, with the range dropping to 260 miles. The lithium-ion battery pack remains unchanged from lesser versions of the dual-motor Mach-E: an 88-kilowatt-hour unit. The two GT models differ in some of their equipment, too, with the GT featuring wider 20-inch wheels with Continental 245/45R20 all-season tires, a suspension lowered by 10 millimeters, red-painted front Brembo brake calipers and a GT-specific front air dam. The Performance Edition builds on that with different wheel patterns (better looking ones, in my opinion) wearing the same size tires but with a different composition — these are Pirelli summer performance tires, developed specifically for the Ford Mustang Mach-E GT Performance Edition, and key to allowing the front motor to make 34 more pounds-feet of torque, according to Ford. The front brakes get a bit larger, too, upped to 385-mm front rotors. The Performance Edition also gets Ford’s MagneRide electronic adaptive suspension, the only trim level where it’s available. Aside from some slight cosmetic changes to the front end, GT badging, body-color fender flares and sport seats (Ford Performance versions in the Performance Edition) with unique stitching, the GT doesn’t differ much from lesser versions of the MME visually.
It certainly drives differently, however. Leave the drive mode setting in “Unbridled” (you bought a GT; why would you have it in any other setting?), and enjoy the massive, instant, ungodly torque that presses your head against the headrest and stretches your mouth into an unwitting grin. It’s such a surreal experience to shuffle this pony along at breakneck speeds — you get all of the speed of a V-8-powered Mustang GT350 with none of the fury. Despite the MME GT having a special, slightly louder audio soundtrack that can be switched on to sort of duplicate the noise of a growling gas engine, the thing delivers unholy quickness with none of the visceral gut punch of the coupe’s roaring V-8. For someone raised on a soundtrack of American fuel-to-noise converters under the hoods of Detroit Three muscle cars, it’s unnerving. But in 15 years, when all modern performance cars have electric drivetrains, I’ll wager the kids will complain about annoyingly loud gas engines that distract them from the speed, unlike what their silent hi-po EVs deliver. The future is gonna be weird for us older drivers. You just wait.
The rest of the GT’s performance goodies, like the lowered suspension, the wider, stickier tires and the beautifully dialed-in steering feel also contribute greatly to the ability to hustle this car along at highly entertaining speeds on suitable back roads. On the super twisty, two-lane blacktop between Sausalito and the Pacific Coast Highway, the MME GT absolutely shines. Leave it in Unbridled mode and activate the one-pedal driving switch for maximum regenerative braking, and it becomes a joy to throw into curves. The additional power to the front wheels is especially noticeable in the Performance Edition, which loves to power out of corners early thanks to its extra grip and additional torque. I blasted south on U.S. Highway 1 at considerable speed, embarrassing some poor schmuck in a Chevy Camaro SS behind me who desperately tried to keep up (and couldn’t). There is no substitute for the instant torque an EV like the MME GT generates. (Not until we eventually see an electric Camaro.)
One problem still remains with the Mustang Mach-E that hasn’t been addressed, even with the MagneRide adaptive suspension that comes with the Performance Edition: The ride quality stinks. There’s no other way to say it; the Mustang Mach-E is still unpleasantly bouncy, a characteristic that hasn’t improved with the GT versions, either. Rough pavement sets passengers rattling about the interior as the stiffly sprung SUV bounces all over the road. It rarely upsets the directional stability of the car, so it’s not affecting the steering at all, but it can easily shake passengers out of position or unsettle them in their seats, leading to some confidence and control issues. The MagneRide suspension in the Performance Edition is not tunable by the driver, either — there’s no Comfort or Sport setting to select. (It does adjust for softness based on which of the four drive modes you select — Whisper, Engaged, Unbridled or Unbridled Extend — but there’s little perceivable difference between them for ride quality.) It really is the biggest blemish against the Mach-E’s performance, but if you live somewhere with absolutely glass-smooth roads (like … Dubai, maybe?), it won’t be an issue. Yet even on the well-kept roads of Marin County, it is enough to be unsettling and uncomfortable.
My biggest wish for the Mach-E GT? More adjustability. You’re limited to the modes Ford has created, but with everything being electronic, why isn’t there an Individual mode like every German luxury brand offers, allowing me to mix and match parameters and settings to my own tastes? Why can’t I have super sporty steering and a much more compliant ride? Why does the electronic dash display layout have to be tied to the drive modes? With everything being electronic in the MME, my options seem needlessly limited.
One new mode only on the GT trim worth elaboration is the Unbridled Extend. If you were to take your Mach-E GT out on a track in the normal Unbridled mode, it would likely deplete and possibly overheat the battery in short order, according to Ford. And that’s going to cut your track day short. What Unbridled Extend does is dial back the output from the motors, change the brake and accelerator mapping to be more linear in their operation, and precondition the battery to allow you to turn in a more consistent lap time. Ford didn’t have specific numbers as to how much power it cuts from the motors, but a few blasts through an autocross course that Ford had set up with Mach-E GT Performance Editions on an abandoned naval base proved that repeated floggings of the SUV around a challenging makeshift road course remained repeatable without any degradation in performance.
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The Mach-E’s interior was already pretty slick with a simple layout dominated by a 15.5-inch portrait-oriented screen running Ford’s latest Sync 4A software. The system is here in the GT as well, for better or worse — it offers a lot of functionality but has a fairly significant learning curve, and still omits things like a simple “off” button for the climate control that isn’t buried in other menus and steps. Love it or hate it, it’s the wave of the future for Ford, with this display coming soon in the F-150 Lightning and the new 2022 Expedition. I think after customers live with it for a bit and customize it to their liking, it will be second nature to use.
The interior itself gets a little special treatment for the GT with sport contour front seats, ActiveX upholstery and copper stitching. The copper accent and stitching carry over to the dash and doors. The GT Performance Edition gets Ford Performance sport seats (oddly, not Recaros) that are supposedly more heavily bolstered than the GT’s, but which only feel like they have an odd, intrusive bar across your shoulders. They’re also covered in the ActiveX fabric with Miko suedelike inserts and silver metallic stitching. It has to be said — for the supposedly high-performance, excitement-delivering versions of these vehicles, the interiors aren’t any more special than lesser versions of the MME. While you can get some wild colors for the exterior like Grabber Blue Metallic or Cyber Orange Metallic, the interior remains a dour, boring place devoid of color or pop. I’m not sure why Ford is chromophobic with regards to the MME — its normal palette of exterior colors is a snoozer, and the interiors haven’t any pop to them either, yet the latest F-150 can be had with a blue interior, and the new 2022 Expedition comes in hunter green!
Pricey, But Competitively So
Pricing for the GT model starts at $61,000 (including destination fees), while the GT Performance Edition starts at $66,000. Both still qualify for the federal $7,500 tax credit, dropping the net price on both into the $50,000 range (providing your tax liability is high enough). That’s a pretty sweet deal for a vehicle this quick, fun to drive and immensely capable. It’s competitive with other high-performance EVs as well, like the Tesla Model Y, but provides a different level of specialized equipment.
The Mach-E GT is a worthy recipient of the GT badge with capabilities that make it a fun canyon carver. It can even hold its own on an autocross course, should owners decide they want to try that. Personally, I’ve always felt it unlikely that SUV owners intend to use their ride for enthusiast purposes (you don’t see many SUVs at track days, because SUVs are generally far less enjoyable on a track than a proper sports car with a low seating position and center of gravity). Will it be the vehicle of choice for Mustang intenders who want to use their cars for sport? Likely not. But Ford has made sure that anyone who does choose that path will be able to hold their own in the cones.
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