The Mustang Mach-E is different. While the name might evoke visions of a big-block FE-series 428 cubic inch V8 under it’s hood nothing could be further from the truth. Duh right? After all, this is 2021 and we’re living in a new world.
Instead what you see when you lift the hood of the 2021 Ford Mach-E is a sea of molded black plastic that hides any inkling that this pony even has a power plant. This Mustang is indeed a horse of a different color.
Before peeling back all that plastic, let’s take the larger view. The new all-electric Mustang Mach-E is Ford’s first clean-sheet of paper dedicated electric vehicle, meaning not one who started out as a gasoline engined model and then turned into an electric.
This means it’s designed and built completely different. Looking under the skin of its uni-body structure we see that larger than average steel frame rails surround a large flat battery pack that sits entirely under the passenger compartment.
The frame is robust because these battery packs are heavy and not only need to be held in place but protected in a crash. This design is great for handling because it makes for a lower center of gravity but bad for handling because it makes the car heavier and taller overall – why it’s a crossover instead of a sexy coupe like the regular Mustang.
Whether you choose RWD or AWD, at the front is a beefy cast aluminum cross-member that carries all of the Mach-E’s electronic control hardware including control units to manage charging, power inverting and converting and more.
The Mach-E comes with a variety of powertrain configurations starting with a rear-wheel drive only model who’s 282 horsepower Borg-Warner integrated drive motor unit sits at the rear-axle between the two wheels.
If you option AWD you get a second motor mounted underneath it all which comes in two power levels depending on your model, 67 horsepower in the Premium AWD we have here. A larger motor unit comes up front with the all-powerful GT.
In any case these numbers aren’t necessarily cumulative when it comes to combined power ratings. Our AWD premium is rated at a total system power of 346 horsepower and 428 pound-feet of torque. See? We have the number 428 in all of this drama, how appropriate.
But now to the juicy under the hood part. When you pop the bonnet you get to see your beautiful 4.7 cubic foot “frunk” kindly outfitted with divider panels with increase its baseline uselessness by preventing larger items from being put in unless you go to the work of removing it. There’s a drain down at the bottom too so you can make an ice-chest out of it for those hood-open funk parties.
All the plastic cladding around it also gets in your way if you want to do some DIY maintenance, and honestly Ford really doesn’t want you to monkey around in there anyway. This is because you can die of high-voltage if you’re a dumb ass.
That said, we removed all of it to show you what’s there and refrained from touching anything we shouldn’t. Once all the skirting is gone a world of the new presents itself. We can see now why even if you don’t get AWD, the frunk remains small – because the motor itself isn’t what’s in the way.
Up top and center is the aforementioned electronic hardware that manages the many different aspects of charging, converting, and controlling. The largest of the boxes is the charging unit, atop that is an inverter and also a DC-DC converter that steps high-voltage down for the 12-volt battery system for standard accessories inside and out.
All of these items are liquid cooled as are the integrated motor drive units themselves. The result of this is a salad bowl of hoses and no less than four separate electric pumps in the front-bay that keep it all flowing to the several components. At the front therefore is a traditional radiator and electric fan.
There are two cooling reservoirs, one which is not as easily accessed, under semi-permanent skirting which is flowing at the very moment of our shoot as we are charging the car. The other reservoir is up on the front wall, accessible from the maintenance cover which means it’s the one Ford is more comfortable with you monkeying with.
Also up at the consumer-grade access area is the brake fluid reservoir which is remotely located from the electronic braking control unit which is tucked back underneath. The brakes themselves remain hydraulically actuated but allow full control and override by the electronic Gods.
A deep dive below all this aluminum liquid cooled hardware is the smaller of the two integrated motor drive units of our Premium AWD Mach-E, shrouded with thermal and sound-deadening blackness. If you have a rear-wheel drive model this would just be open air under the cross-member.
Other items of note under the hood include the fully electric AC cooling unit on the passenger side of the hardware cluster. Across all of this is a strut tower brace that while might seem a bone to throw to enthusiasts is really there to keep the structure tight since this thing weighs nearly 5,000 pounds with the extended-range battery option and AWD.
Lastly we look at another relic of the past, the 12-volt battery itself which remains to power all of the interior lighting, infotainment, power accessories and exterior lighting. To replace the 12-volt battery, all of the plastic cladding must be removed for access.
Next to it is the under-hood fuse box for heavy duty items which Ford has hidden from consumer-grade DIY-ers, another fuse-box is located under the passenger side dash for most interior accessories and systems.
Last but not least and accessible even with all the safety shrouding in place is the windshield washer reservoir. It is the only serviceable item in-fact when all the dressing is in-place.