SAUSALITO, Calif. — The GT label has adorned the faster, performance-oriented version of the Ford Mustang sports car since 1965.
Back then, the Mustang GT included a V8 engine, disc brakes, and an upgraded instrument panel, among other things. Steve McQueen drove a 1968 GT in Bullitt, a car that sold at auction for $3.7 million.
But there's a new GT, and though it doesn't have a V8 (nor Steve McQueen), it is faster and performance-oriented. It's the new Mustang Mach-E GT, and it's the jumped-up version of Ford's terrific Mach-E electric car.
I reviewed the regular Mach-E earlier this year and declared it the first EV I would want to buy. With one minor change, I stand by that assessment: the Mach-E GT Performance Edition is now the EV to buy.
The GT has always been about improving looks and performance, and the Mach-E GT is no different. The GT gains both, but while the new front grille is nice, it's the performance improvements that have me all atwitter.
Ford says the GT is all about performance, responsiveness, and making the car fun to drive. Since the Mach-E already checks those boxes, it seemed the GT would turn that formula up to 11. There are actually two versions of the GT, with the fancier one labeled with "Performance Edition." Of course, this begs the question as to whether the standard GT is the unperformance edition, but no matter.
Ford started by increasing the width of the tires, going from 225mm to 245mm wide. The GT gets a set of all-season Continental sport tires, while the GT Performance receives a set of summer Pirelli P-Zeros explicitly designed for EVs. Curiously, Ford's engineers say the drop in EPA-estimated range for the two GT variants is down more to the change in tires than anything else.
While the standard long-range Ford Mustang Mach-E has a 300-mile range, the GT and GT Performance have 270 and 260 miles, respectively. But that's a modest trade-off for a nice increase in performance.
The Mach-E GT has a larger front motor than the standard Mach-E, bumping horsepower from 346 to 480 and torque from 428 to 600 lb-ft. The GT Performance gets that torque number up to 634. That means the GT gets from 0-60 mph in 3.8 seconds, while the Performance gets that down to 3.5 seconds.
There's a lot more to the GT than just straight-line speed, however. The GT gets improved brakes, sporty seats, and several visual accoutrements, including copper-colored seat accents and GT lettering on the back of the car, so folks know you have something special.
There's also a special track-only drive mode called Unbridled Extend. It's designed to stabilize performance for track use, minimizing battery regeneration to deliver a more predictable pedal feel and reducing heat exchange in the battery and motors when driving hard.
In everyday driving, the GT can accelerate slightly faster, but once temperatures in the system start to rise, it'll automatically derate the speed while it cools down again. The goal is to deliver more consistent lap times at the expense of a slight drop in maximum power.
The regular GT is $59,900 or around a $5,000 premium over the standard Mach-E Premium (which also has two-motor all-wheel-drive and the larger battery option). The Mach-E GT Performance Edition is another $5,000 on top of that and is worth every penny.
In addition to the Pirelli summer tires that allow Ford's engineers to tweak the motors for additional torque, the GT Performance also gets upgraded Brembo brake calipers, a stunning set of 20-inch aluminum wheels, and very comfortable Ford Performance front seats.
But the most significant change by far is the MagneRide magnetic suspension system. It really improves performance and comfort and makes such a difference that I almost wonder why Ford sells a GT without it. The Mach-E is a heavy car, closing in on 5,000 pounds with two passengers, and the MagneRide helps keep the GT Performance stable during "spirited" cornering and braking.
I don't think most buyers would immediately notice the difference, at least without driving the two suspension systems back to back. But I can tell you that GT Performance buyers will appreciate the system every time they drive the car, whether they realize it or not.
That said, most folks don't need the GT package in a Mach-E any more than they need a GT when buying a standard internal combustion Mustang. But many people want to have the "best," which is why, Ford says, the GT is overindexed within Mach-E's order book.
If you don't care about performance and sportiness, just buy the standard Mach-E. But if you want a car that really lives up to the Mustang name, you want the (somewhat awkwardly named, if I'm honest) Mustang Mach-E GT Performance Edition. It's the best Mach-E you can get. At least until Ford comes out with an even-faster Mach-E GT350.