2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E AWD: Powersliding the mold-shattering electric SUV
Listen, there aren't that many cars that I'd drop everything on short notice to drive five hours to the middle of this for a ride in the passenger seat.
But the 2021 Ford Mustang Maki all electric?
I got long Johns.
Sign me up.
Ford invited me to the frozen north to get an early taste of the Maki's optional new all wheel drive system.
The blue oval will not only need this hardware to work in hostile climates like this, it's got to make sure it's still fun to drive like a Mustang.
As this is an early prototype, Ford's not quite ready to toss me the key.
So right along showing how they're testing and evolving the new hardware is the next best thing.
So we're at Smithers Scientific.
This is an 800 acre winter proving ground up in Michigan's Upper Peninsula.
And right now we're on one of the handling circles.
So this is a snow and ice circle at about a 300 foot radius.
And this specific test venue represents kind of a freeway entrance ramp or a bend on a road Where the customer is looking for potentially just stability.
Ford isn't using cheater tires to make this car's winter performance seem even more impressive.
In actuality, this is sitting on partially worn all season Michelin's to replicate a normal customer experience.
They've even got the drive setting in its standard mode engaged.
That's what makes this next part so unexpected.
This is a Mustang, it's a Mustang Mach E and you can really push this vehicle if you want.
You just step into a little bit and you the vehicles very controllable.
It gives you that rear wheel drive characteristic.
And if you want you can take this vehicle for being just a nice stable commuter to being a something that I'll just let you drift right around we go.
There we go.
That's what we want.
Yes, the stability control has been sent packing.
But here's the thing about electric all wheel drive systems like this one.
Torque transfer can be both instant and precisely metered with no mechanical connection between the front and rear axles.
Not only is there no added mechanical drag You don't have to expend power on an axle if it's not helpful.
When you start to understeer on a slippery surface and the front wheels just won't turn, if you get on the accelerator a bit, you can seamlessly overdrive the rears, introducing slip angle and doing this.
As Ford engineer, [UNKNOWN] shows, you can go sideways all day in the snow essentially using just your right foot.
Rolling onto the accelerator to widen the slip angle into a wicked drift.
The SUV looks at your steering and throttle inputs, suddenly tapping the brakes on each corner individually, to help you channel your inner Ken Block.
From the passenger seat, I gotta admit, it looks easier to catch and release a marquee in the snow, than the traditional gas powered car.
Even a rear driver
The [UNKNOWN] put us on a handling track next.
So what are we gonna [UNKNOWN]
So this is a handling course, it's an interesting one in that it's kind of a tight handling course.
This represents the type of turns that customers would see driving through a country road.
With that big heavy lithium ion battery slowing low in the chassis.
Handling on snow seems both neutral and friendly.
This isn't even the high horsepower GT model.
It's a regular all wheel drive with 332 horsepower and 417 pound feet of torque.
The Bocce has all the makings of a winter weather monster.
And that's without putting this Mustang in its sportiest mode unbridled.
The three drive modes, Ford calls them experiences, don't just alter performance parameters like steering weight and accelerator tip-in, they change things like powertrain sound in the cabin as well as the gauges and lighting.
The most interesting part is that the one pedal driving functions with heavy regenerative braking acts as an overlay atop all three experience modes.
Whisper engage and unbridled.
You might think that whisper is code for ego, but it's not.
It's for people who prefer to walk along serenely.
It doesn't simply try to shove as many electrons back into the battery as possible.
It's actually unbridled, the high performance mode that uses max region.
What's really exciting about this, with this being part of the Mustang family is that there's also an expectation that the vehicle will simply handle.
That will be true to that Mustang character and let us push that vehicle more than what you'd expect with a normal family sedan, let's say.
And the vehicle really responds.
We also got the chance to experience the [UNKNOWN] on a split new incline, both 20 and 30% grades that have different levels of traction side to side.
This test is a lot like my own steep driveway, so I payed close attention.
It's a though test of motor break and software integration.
While there were moments of slippage, the SUV carefully walked its way up the slope in a way that a human might struggle to manage.
Ford says Mach-E does this sort of thing better than any other EV on the market right now, including ones from that brand.
Listen, the Maki has upset a bunch of purists, some because this Mustang is an SUV with four doors, some because it's electric and some even because it's all wheel drive.
But here's the thing, Ford is breaking the Mustang mold with the Maki getting buyers ready for increasing levels of electrification in the regular coupe, which is something everybody's gonna have to get comfortable with if the car is to survive at all.
Early marquee customer data suggests that this is a smart move.
Nearly three quarters of cold weather state reservation holders have opted for all wheel drive, including nine out of ten in New England alone, about six and ten so far are new to Ford, but a blue oval loyalists, a quarter have owned mustang in the past.
Look, I get that not everyone is gonna love the way this vehicle looks.
Heck, the design is too soft and streamlined for me.
I expect more muscles than a Mustang.
I need to get time behind the wheel before I really get optimistic, but I think the Maki may have the guts to become the first Evie to sell here in big numbers without a Tesla bat
Well, this has been a real frozen treat.
The chance to get an early exclusive look at the development of the 2021 Ford Mustang Mach E Electric in conditions like this, well, it doesn't come along very often These engineers are doing a lot of great work and there's still more work to be done.
So I'm gonna let them have at it and I'm gonna head inside and get a hot chocolate.
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