The unmitigated gall, the chutzpah, the sheer insensitivity! How dare they sully the Mustang name by affixing it to a four-door sport-ute. Not just any four-door sport-ute but one with an all-electric powertrain. Oh, make no mistake, Mustang Nation was readying the tar and feathers after Ford announced it was naming its first mainstream all-electric vehicle the Mustang Mach-E. The spin doctoring was epic when it arrived as a 2020 model. “It’s fast. It’s fun. It’s freedom. For a new generation of Mustang owners,” proclaimed Bill Ford, executive chairman of the auto company that bears his family’s name.

It got worse: “Ford is expanding the Mustang family, bringing the famous pony into the electric age with Mustang Mach-E, an all-new, all-electric SUV born of the same all-American ideals that inspired the best-selling sports coupe in the world. Ever since the original Mustang took the world by storm in 1964, it quickly came to represent the best of the American spirit: Freedom, progress, fast performance and a touch of rebellion. Now, Mustang is ready to reimagine these ideas for a powerful electric future, with space for customers’ growing needs and advanced over-the-air updates that continue to improve the vehicle.”

2022 ford mustang gt or mustang mach-e gt: which model and trim should you buy?

2022 Ford Mustang Mach-E GT Performance Photo by Brian Harper

2022 ford mustang gt or mustang mach-e gt: which model and trim should you buy?

2022 Ford Mustang Mach-E GT Performance Photo by Brian Harper

2022 ford mustang gt or mustang mach-e gt: which model and trim should you buy?

2022 Ford Mustang Mach-E GT Performance Photo by Brian Harper

2022 ford mustang gt or mustang mach-e gt: which model and trim should you buy?

2022 Ford Mustang Mach-E GT Performance Photo by Brian Harper

2022 ford mustang gt or mustang mach-e gt: which model and trim should you buy?

2022 Ford Mustang Mach-E GT Performance Photo by Brian Harper

2022 ford mustang gt or mustang mach-e gt: which model and trim should you buy?

2022 Ford Mustang Mach-E GT Performance Photo by Brian Harper

2022 ford mustang gt or mustang mach-e gt: which model and trim should you buy?

2022 Ford Mustang Mach-E GT Performance Photo by Brian Harper

2022 ford mustang gt or mustang mach-e gt: which model and trim should you buy?

2022 Ford Mustang Mach-E GT Performance Photo by Brian Harper

2022 ford mustang gt or mustang mach-e gt: which model and trim should you buy?

2022 Ford Mustang Mach-E GT Performance Photo by Brian Harper

2022 ford mustang gt or mustang mach-e gt: which model and trim should you buy?

2022 Ford Mustang Mach-E GT Performance Photo by Brian Harper

2022 ford mustang gt or mustang mach-e gt: which model and trim should you buy?

2022 Ford Mustang Mach-E GT Performance Photo by Brian Harper

2022 ford mustang gt or mustang mach-e gt: which model and trim should you buy?

2022 Ford Mustang Mach-E GT Performance Photo by Brian Harper

Holy smokes! That’s a crapload of hyperbole in just a few sentences. Do you drive the Mach-E or salute it? Still, setting aside the corporate BS, the top-of-the-line Mach-E GT Performance being tested has some legit performance bona fides that, on paper, could embarrass the Mustang GT. You remember the Mustang; the OG of pony cars, in continual production for the last 58 years, SCCA and Trans-Am race car legend, ’60s cultural icon and apparently at one time the world’s most-liked vehicle on Facebook. Oh, and the only automobile the Blue Oval sells in North America. The current sixth-generation model is a bit long in the tooth — the seventh generation will be revealed shortly as a 2024 model — but few cars can match the visceral nature of the sport coupe, the sound and fury of one being driven in anger. It is the car Ford once described as its “heart and soul.” Heart and soul versus electric future. Yikes!

But let’s try to set aside the emotion (and vitriol) and simply treat this as a comparison between two performance vehicles from the same manufacturer that just happen to share a common name and trim level. (I admit this isn’t easy; as a prepubescent kid in the ’60s, I used to pedal my bike up to the local Ford dealership and snag Mustang sales brochures, take them home and commit to memory.)

2022 ford mustang gt or mustang mach-e gt: which model and trim should you buy?

2022 Ford Mustang GT Photo by Brian Harper

2022 ford mustang gt or mustang mach-e gt: which model and trim should you buy?

2022 Ford Mustang GT Photo by Brian Harper

2022 ford mustang gt or mustang mach-e gt: which model and trim should you buy?

2022 Ford Mustang GT Photo by Brian Harper

2022 ford mustang gt or mustang mach-e gt: which model and trim should you buy?

2022 Ford Mustang GT Photo by Brian Harper

2022 ford mustang gt or mustang mach-e gt: which model and trim should you buy?

2022 Ford Mustang GT Photo by Brian Harper

2022 ford mustang gt or mustang mach-e gt: which model and trim should you buy?

2022 Ford Mustang GT Photo by Brian Harper

2022 ford mustang gt or mustang mach-e gt: which model and trim should you buy?

2022 Ford Mustang GT Photo by Brian Harper

2022 ford mustang gt or mustang mach-e gt: which model and trim should you buy?

2022 Ford Mustang GT Photo by Brian Harper

2022 ford mustang gt or mustang mach-e gt: which model and trim should you buy?

2022 Ford Mustang GT Photo by Brian Harper

Differences in body styes aside, these are performance vehicles, right? So, let’s see what’s under the hood — so to speak, anyway, because the Mach-E sports a 4.7-litre frunk. In the electrons corner of the Mach-E GT Performance Edition is an extended-range battery with standard all-wheel drive powered by permanent magnet motors. Torque is applied independently to the front and rear axles to deliver impressive acceleration — zero to 100 kilometres an hour in 3.6 seconds, the whisper-quiet power immediate and impressive, especially considering the SUV’s 2,240-kilogram avoirdupois. Ford claims it’s faster off the line than a Porsche Macan Turbo, a signal of what the company considers appropriate competition.

In the high-octane corner is the 2022 Mustang GT Premium’s throaty DOHC 5.0L Coyote V8, the engine pumping out 450 hp and 420 lb-ft of torque. It’s a sweetheart of a motor, fierce when the pedal is pushed to the floor, but quite docile when driven gently, though the latter is difficult to achieve because it requires one to ignore the raw music emanating from the tailpipes as the V8 is spun up toward its 7,500-rpm redline. In addition to being robust enough to handle the engine’s 420 pound-feet of torque, the tester’s 10-speed automatic drops two-tenths of a second from the car’s blast to 100 km/h — 4.3 seconds versus 4.5 seconds when fitted with the six-speed Getrag manual. Still, in a straight line and despite it being some 560 kilograms lighter than the Mach-E, it’s not as quick. And if getting up to highway speeds in a hurry is your only performance metric, then you’re going to have to option up to the stunningly overpowered (760-hp) Shelby GT500 (0-100 in 3.7 seconds) if you want to keep pace with the Mach-E GT Performance.

Compare the specs of the Ford Mustang and Mustang Mach-E

But there’s more to performance than going like hell in a straight line, isn’t there? And this is where the Mach-E truly surprises; it’s a lot nimbler than its mass would suggest, with limpet grip courtesy of its AWD system and a set of P245/45R20 Pirelli P Zero rubber. There’s some lean in the corners, the feeling exacerbated by the SUV’s higher ride height, but it’s no three-legged hippo. Then there’s the Performance Edition’s Brembo’s performance Flexira aluminum calipers and MagneRide damping system.

Still, by comparison, the Mustang dances in the twisties, The MacPherson strut/IRS setup might be common practice — though it was a novel idea for the pony car until the sixth generation — but it gets the job done, the rear-drive GT displays excellent grip with no body roll, aided by the car’s P255/40WR19 rubber. I was less enthused with the optional 10-speed automatic (with paddle shifters). When cold, the tranny didn’t always shift cleanly, with some jerking as it moved up the gears. Even warmed up, under light throttle the flow of power was not as smooth as it could be. It would be the six-speed Getrag for me.

As for their respective cabins, the Mustang GT is traditional muscle car, with gauges and displays (especially the ribbon tachometer). The Mach-E is Tesla-like; some key information displayed in front of the driver, and a massive 15.5-inch touchscreen featuring Ford’s latest SYNC communications and entertainment system. Sure, the touch, swipe and pinch controls are easy-peasy for most smartphone users, but it’s clinical. In fact, the entire cabin is bereft of the visual drama that performance cars usually exhibit.

3 reasons to choose the Mustang Mach-E

  1. Fuel economy: Set aside the emissions argument and let’s concentrate on what impacts the wallet. Which is to say there’s no pain at the pumps, although there is no free lunch to running the EV. However, it is, according to NRCan, a ton cheaper to operate, the agency rating the SUV at 2.7 Le/100 km in the city and 3.1 Le/100 km on the highway, with an annual “fuel” cost of $768 based on driving 20,000 km a year. Maximum range observed with the tester was 432 km. The Mustang GT’s Coyote powerplant, on the other hand, is a thirsty beast. NRCan rates the GT with the 10-speed auto at 15.2 L/100 km in the city and 9.7 L/100 on the highway, with an annual fuel cost of $2,540 over 20,000 km of driving. The GT with six-speed manual is even thirstier. Interestingly, unless you drive with a feather foot, range is about the same, 420 or so kilometres.
  2. Room with a view: Do I really have to break down the dimensions or is obvious the Mach-E is roomier, with actual doors rear-seat passengers can open to access their perches? The Mustang is a 2+2, the +2 for those who are short, young and/or very limber. There is slightly more legroom for the front-seat occupants, but in every other dimension, the win goes to the Mach-E. The same applies to cargo room. There’s 29.7 cubic feet of luggage area behind the rear seat in the Mach-E, 13.5 cu. ft. for the Mustang GT fastback.
  3. It’s not a Tesla: Relax, Teslarati, this is not a putdown, merely an observation. Tesla is the overwhelmingly dominant leader in the sales of EVs, to the point, at least in my neighbourhood, that its models have become a common sight. The Mach-E, on sale since the end of 2020, is not.

Which version to choose

Well, if you’re just looking to get into a sporty-looking family EV for reasonable money, there’s the base Mach-E Select, which is available with either a rear-wheel-drivetrain ($51,495) or all-wheel drivetrain ($54,995). But if you want to embody “the true high-octane spirit” of the Mustang name, it’s the GT Performance Edition or nothing that, for its $85,995 (without options) MSRP, does come with the 91-kWh extended range battery, 480 hp and eAWD. And certain bragging rights, natch.

2022 ford mustang gt or mustang mach-e gt: which model and trim should you buy?

2022 Ford Mustang Mach-E GT Performance Photo by Brian Harper

3 reasons to choose the Mustang GT

  1. Price: What’s that old adage? Speed costs, how fast do you want to go? In the Mustang’s case, there are seven models to choose from, both fastback and convertibles, starting from $32,295 for the EcoBoost and its turbocharged 2.3: four-cylinder and topping out at $102,495 for the previously mentioned Shelby GT500 and its supercharged 5.2L V8. The GT Premium is mid-pack in terms of performance and price, starting at $49,995. And even with the tester’s $11,390 worth of options — including almost $3,000 for the Ice White appearance package (an option I would forego, even if it includes the rear wing) — its $61,385 sticker is so much less expensive than the $90,885 as-tested price of the Mach-E GT ($85,995 base, plus $4,890 in options including $2,545 for the Co-Pilot 360 Active 2.0 BlueCruise).
  2. The Sound and the Fury: Courtesy of a $1,295 active valve performance exhaust, the Mustang GT explodes to life at a push of the start button, settling into a basso profundo burble — it reminds me of Steve McQueen’s Mustang from the movie Bullitt, where he is playing cat and mouse with the baddies in the black Charger. It’s a ballsy tune that’s becoming increasingly rare these days. Which leads us to …
  3. I Scream for ICE Scream: The big rumour regarding the introduction of the next-generation Mustang (at the time of this writing still several weeks away) is that it will be the last to be powered by an internal combustion engine. This from Car and Driver: “It may be the last chance to buy a new V8-powered Mustang, as future generations of the muscle car may focus on EV or hybrid powertrains.” And keep in mind that Stellantis just took the covers off a fully electric Dodge Charger concept. Old school gearheads are weeping in their beers.

Which version to choose

As previously mentioned, there are no less than seven Mustang models to choose from, both fastback and convertibles, starting from $32,295 for the EcoBoost and topping out at the $102,495 Shelby GT500. OK, let’s assume the Shelby is a little too out of reach for most, the next best thing is the Mach 1, a name with a rich history — plus a 470-hp five-litre with a six-speed Tremec transmission, all for $70,145. And while at it, what the hell, let’s add the $5,395 Handling Package for kicks, which really makes the pony car truly track-worthy. Except … with such a setup, the Mach 1 tramlines like nobody’s business, with a ride that, unless on billiard table-smooth tarmac, is rather unpleasant. So, for the ageing boomers with back issues, the GT with six-speed really is the version to get.

2022 ford mustang gt or mustang mach-e gt: which model and trim should you buy?

2022 Ford Mustang GT Photo by Brian Harper

Conclusion

Sure, some of the less open-minded are going to grumble that this was a ridiculous comparison. And I get it. Other than the Mustang name and the GT trim, these two vehicles appear to have little in common, with different driving styles — except both are fast. One is part of Ford’s illustrious past, the other its challenged future. “Are you going to make your stops at Shell or a supercharger,” asks Timothy Cain, Driving.ca’s vehicle sales tracking guru. “Are you going to alert your friends to your environmental stand or show up at the drag strip with a supercharged V8? Are you ready to decide between tar sands and lithium extraction?”

That said, like many I’d be happier if Ford had simply called its new EV the Mach-E, dropping the Mustang half of the name.

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