The 2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E, the company’s first all-electric SUV, was officially revealed to the world Sunday night in a globally broadcast event. Actual cars won’t show up at dealers until next autumn, but we can already tell you a little about what they’ll be like.

Friday evening, groups of three journalists were able to ride in prototype Mach-Es over a 10-minute route that included the streets of Hawthorne, California—right past Tesla’s Southern California design studio, where we rode along in a Tesla Model Y earlier in the year—and both an acceleration run and a short slalom course.

Behind the wheel was a professional race driver who’s competed in a variety of race series around the world. He’d been doing these runs all day, and would continue to do them over the next few days, so he was clearly quite familiar with the car and its performance limits.

Our prototype Mustang Mach-E vehicles, he said, were Premium trim cars with all-wheel drive and the larger of the two battery packs. They weren’t the Mustang Mach-E GT, however, the top-end performance model with a higher-ouput front motor—which would have been faster yet.

Linear acceleration, flat corners

The company quotes the standard Mach-E as accelerating from 0 to 60 mph in the mid-5-second range. We didn’t time our acceleration run from a standing start, but that felt about right. The most notable impression was that unlike some electric cars, there wasn’t the feeling of being kicked in the back when the right pedal was floored. Instead, the acceleration seemed swift, but linear and steady, rather than the instant thrust of some other performance EVs.

On the slalom course, the Mach-E cornered flat and remained balanced. On every turn we heard the rear tires squealing well before the fronts—perhaps reflecting the car’s more powerful rear motor and rear-wheel-drive bias. Ford doesn’t split out front and rear motor output, but the AWD version with the Extended Range battery we rode in is “targeting” 248 kilowatts (332 horsepower) and 417 lb-ft of torque.

2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E

2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E

Even with three adult men onboard, the Mach-E felt plenty quick enough to keep up with fast cut-and-thrust street driving and traffic. Noise levels inside were low, though our driver kept the amplified “Unbridled” noise-generator on, providing a kind of throaty whirring sound to underscore the car’s performance. It was less intrusive than such noises on other cars, including the Porsche Taycan we tested the day before, whose amplified noise is loud enough to be tedious and tiring. (Ford lets drivers switch off the synthetic generated sound at any time.)

Room for adults inside

Getting into the Mach-E requires pushing a small, round, lit button that unlatches the door and pushes it clear of the frame. In front, there’s a small metal bar around which you can hook a couple of fingers to pull the door fully open. In the back, after pushing the button, you cup your fingers around the upper part of the frame next to the button and pull.

Dimensionally, the Mach-E is 186 inches long, and at the outer edge of what Americans might consider a compact crossover utility vehicle. But the long wheelbase gives it plenty of rear-seat room, and those three adult passengers all sat comfortably. A third rear-seat rider might be tight in the shoulders, but she could be accommodated if needed.

2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E

2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E

Despite the rakish hatchback lines, head room is adequate, somewhat helped by the optional glass roof. The roofline dips down sharply just past the rear-seat riders’ heads, but there’s enough room that 6-foot riders still have a couple of inches of headroom. Rear-seat sitting position is slightly knees-up, but the seat isn’t as close to the floor as in some smaller sedans, so it’s easy to imagine traveling back there for hours on a road trip.

Our summary

Our prototypes were remarkably well-finished and tight, with no squeaks or rattles. Only their camouflage covering and some matte-black plastic trim indicated production paint colors and interior pieces still to come. 

Overall, our brief ride in the 2021 Mustang Mach-E SUV made us eager to spend more time in a production version of this new and somewhat unexpected electric vehicle. It’ll likely be several months before that happens, but as far as we’re concerned, it can’t come too soon.

Ford provided airfare, lodging, and meals to enable Internet Brands Automotive to bring you this first-person report.