Is Ford banking on these historic names?

Ford just launched its first all-electric crossover, the 2021 Mustang Mach-E - A cool vehicle packed with tech and equipped with powerful motors and batteries, but it’s also surrounded by some controversy due to its name. Not only does it sport a "Mustang" badge, but it also features a version of the iconic "Mach" nameplate, revised from Mach 1 into Mach-E. Some say that Ford shouldn’t have used these badges on an electric SUV, while others think that Ford is simply trying to bank on these historic names. The big question is, how much Mustang is there in the 2021 Mach-E? Let’s find out.

The 2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E isn’t a Mustang on stilts

How much Mustang is there in the 2021 Mustang Mach-E? Exterior
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As much as we like to see similarities between the two vehicles, they’re actually very different design-wise. The Mustang is defined by two key elements, the headlamps, and the grille. It has been like this since day one and the pony car continues to stand out through unique headlamps and grille. And these two features haven’t been transferred to the Mach-E.

The Mach-E features longer, sharper headlamps, a completely different LED layout with three vertical bars that flank the two light bulbs, and a horizontal LED bar that defines the upper limit of the lamps.

And while the inner corners are somewhat similar to the Mustang’s, the outer corners are a different story, as they are oriented toward the A-pillar instead of the wheel arch.

The same goes for the grille. Sure, the Mach-E has the familiar hexagonal shape, but so do all the other Ford models in the lineup. The Mustang’s shape is rather unique thanks to its sharper edge and perfectly straight lower line. The Mach-E, like all the other Fords currently available, has rounder corners and a convex lower line. The closed-off design of the Mach-E’s grille also results in a smoother transition between the grille itself and the front bumper.

Needless to say, the bumper and the front hood feature significantly different styling cues.

The hood, for instance, is missing the really wide flat section in the center, as well as the fine vertical line that separates the entire element in two.

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The profile is obviously a big departure from the sixth-generation Mustang. Not just because the Mach-E rides higher, though. The roofline is obviously different, while the beltline and the side panels are taller.

The rear haunches are the only design elements that remind me of the Mustang, but they're rounder and the black cladding on the wheel arches ruins the look.
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The rear fascia is where we can find the most Mustang-esque feature on the Mach-E: the taillights have a similar tri-bar design. However, this feature is also a notable departure, as the bars have clear separation in the lower half, while a fourth horizontal bar extends into the tailgate. The decision to add a trapezoidal grille just below the tailgate doesn’t make the Mach-E look like a Mustang either, as everything else is notably different.

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The 2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E is completely different inside the cabin

How much Mustang is there in the 2021 Mustang Mach-E? Interior
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It’s pretty obvious that these cars were designed some six years apart.

While the Mustang is beginning to look dated, the Mach-E features a modern, high-tech interior.

Not only does the dashboard boast a clean, modern, and simple design, there’s also no sign of conventional buttons and controls. Everything is controlled through the massive, tablet-style display in the center stack. Sure, this design is borrowed from Tesla, so Ford didn’t bring anything new here, but it’s completely different compared to the Mustang or any other Ford available right now.

The instrument cluster also ditches the conventional layout of the Mustang with a display showing analog dials under a hood. The dashboard is completely flat in this area and features a free-standing screen. The display is long and flat, so it doesn’t affect visibility through the windscreen. The "Mustang" logo on the steering wheel is basically the only feature that you’ll also find in the Mustang pony car.

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The 2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E is clearly banking on the "Mustang" and "Mach 1" badges

How much Mustang is there in the 2021 Mustang Mach-E? Exterior
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There's no doubt about it - these vehicles are so different that they shouldn't be sold under the same nameplate.

So why is Ford doing it? Well, it’s easier to sell a crossover like this as a Mustang. It’s fully electric, a first for Ford, and it’s entering a tough market dominated by Tesla. Dropping a Mustang badge on its back seems like the easiest thing to do in terms of marketing. The same goes for the "Mach" badge. Fans have been clamoring for a modern version of the Mustang Mach 1 for years now, but Ford had no answer for the request. Now we know why. Instead of yet another special edition Mustang, Ford deleted the "1" in the name" and replaced it with "E" for electric vehicle. Again, not bad for a marketing scheme.

But it remains to be seen how some die-hard fans will react to this. Will Mustang lovers accept the Mach-E as part of the Mustang lineup? It probably won’t matter much as new customers won’t care about the badge, but there’s another issue we need to be aware of. Now that we have a Mustang SUV in the lineup, does it mean that the Mustang pony car is headed for the guillotine? With Ford having axed almost all cars in the U.S. to favor SUVs, does it mean that the muscle car will be replaced by a crossover in the future?

Ciprian Florea
Senior Editor and Supercar Expert - ciprian@topspeed.com
Ciprian's passion for everything with four wheels (and more) started back when he was just a little boy, and the Lamborghini Countach was still the coolest car poster you could hang on your wall. Ciprian's career as a journalist began long before earning a Bachelor's degree, but it was only after graduating that his love for cars became a profession.  Read More
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