Let’s get something straight. Ford’s new Mustang Mach-E might deliver the goods as an all-electric crossover when it debuts next year, but as far as those who already worship the rear-drive V8 are concerned, it’s hard not to feel there’s more thoroughbred to be found in, well, dog food.
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To get the diehards even half onboard, Ford, obviously, has a bit of convincing to do – so it’s drafted in a silent weapon, of sorts. The Mustang Mach-E 1400 you see here is electric, based on a Mustang Mach-E and unleashes 1044kW (1400hp). It mixes equal parts drift monster and time-attack machine with WRC aero and cutting-edge electric tech.
But before we get into how it does these things, first some bad news. You can’t buy one. And the cost to approve one probably set off an alarm in Ford’s accounts office, even if it would have been a drop in the ocean compared to the awesome US$11.5b (A$20 billion) it’s plugging into EV development on the whole.
Ford, however, has built mega-machines solely for marketing before. Just ask professional drifter Vaughn Gittin Jr.
He’s the man behind RTR vehicles and the Mach-E 1400’s vision with a CV that includes Ken Block’s latest Gymkhana star, the Hoonicorn, and then its twin-turbo methane sucking successor the V2. But it was yet to feature something this shocking and that may be why Ford teamed him up with Ford Performance.
At the front, with three motors arranged down the centre line of the car, the 1400 is already up one motor on the road-going Mach-E GT. They’re stacked in front of and behind each other, “like a rotary [engine], but electric,” Gittin says, and directly drive a Winters Quick Change differential that sends grunt to the outboard wheels. It’s the same setup out back, only there are four motors instead of three arranged in the same pancake style.
Feeding them is a nickel-manganese cobalt battery placed nice and low in the car between the two axles – the same location as the production car. It’s rated at 57.8kWh capacity and cranks 700 volts worth of juice through the powertrain. So it’s safe to say it is going to kick a little bit harder than your average wall port.
Inverters that take the current and supply it to each motor live inside the interior’s central tunnel where you’d expect a transmission and propshaft. There are seven inverters, one for each motor, hooked to thick wires finished orange for high visibility.
At full pelt the Mach-E 1400 produces “a little over” 1044kW and 2034Nm. Or a lot of energy, which of course produces heat. So, to ensure the fun lasts a while there are two radiators for each end.
You might have noticed, however, that while the front end has a great opening in the bumper to feed the radiators air, there’s a massive diffuser hogging space in the rear. That’s because what may be the world’s largest NACA duct, in charge of inhaling fresh air on to the rear radiators, actually sits on the roof.
It fails the theoretical drive-upside-down test, unfortunately, since it’s a heavy beast. The battery alone weighs about 680kg.
Add the motors, cooling systems and inverters and the kerb weight cranks up to 2267kg. And that’s after a plethora of high-end materials that would make you think it’s a rolling science experiment – which it is.
Ford Performance, eager to learn as much as possible on electric powertrains with the Mach-E 1400, says the car could test different battery chemistries or electric motors for research.
The aluminium structure ended up providing a good starting point for saving kilograms, but only the chassis, doors, roof and front guards still use it.
Everything else on the exterior is now carbon fibre besides the bonnet, which is flax composite that, just like the dark weave, is lightweight and strong, but friendlier to earth.
Inside, it’s all motorsport. The only thing carried over from the production car is the huge Tesla-style central tablet screen and the metal throttle pedal.
Drivers – usually Gittin or other Ford-associated pros – sit behind a Motec dash. Underneath that is the emergency and the electronic brake booster (EBB) switch.
Add the Mach-E 1400’s fully adjustable drive that can split it between increments as little as two per cent or as much as 20 and it’s clear why this gripped Gittin’s imagination so tightly. Oh, yeah, the handbrake also disengages the rear motors in lieu of a clutch pedal.
What’s it actually like from behind the wheel, though? Watching Ken Block’s first rip in it on YouTube is a good start on its tyre-shredding ability.
But Gittin puts it well: “it’s like a magnet roller coaster that you control.” The handling’s not too bad, either, he adds. “You’ve never seen a car like this that weighs five thousand pounds that handles like an open-wheel IndyCar. That’s what it feels like. It just turns in so well because the centre of gravity is so low.” It can also drive each axle at opposing speeds for next-level on-the-spot burnouts.
Some quick number crunching suggests it might not be as savage as the Hoonicorn V2, which squeezed 1022kW into something that weighed near 1400kg, equalling over 700kW per tonne.
The Mach-E 1400’s lardy kerb weight splits total power output into a more relatable 461kW per tonne. For instance, the McLaren 765 LT, which is still an insanely quick car, manages 420kW/tonne.
Still, a McLaren, or even the Hoonicorn, can’t switch on 2000Nm in instant.
Either way, it’s clear, that even on paper, the Mach-E 1400 is set to silence the most stubborn petrol-heads.
Ford Mustang Mach-E 1400 specs
Body 4-door, 4-seat SUV
Battery56kWh, 700V, nickel manganese cobalt
Propulsion three motors (f); four motors (r)
Transmission direct drive single gear (f/r)
Downforce 1000kg at 257km/h
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