Do you know the best way to spot a car enthusiast when they’re not scouring the lot of their local dealership? All it takes is the rumbling of an engine, a sound that causes fanatics like us to pause with appreciation. That rumble ignites the senses and has the power to transport us into the driver’s seat of a speed demon, allowing us to satiate our need for speed with one hand fixed on the shifter as our feet move effortlessly from the clutch to the accelerator. Got your attention? If so, you probably want to head over to your local Ford dealer.
The roar of an engine is a powerful sound, and Ford proves as much with the Mustang Mach-E. The all-electric SUV caused quite a stir in the industry as Mustang fans are shocked that an electric vehicle shares the icon’s name. For many, it’s sacrilegious. However, Ford is determined to prove otherwise and equips the Mach-E with an exceptional powertrain that can satisfy any need for speed. But what about the rumble of the Mustang engine? Aren’t electric powertrains notoriously quiet? Ford has an answer for that as well.
An Electric Heartbeat: Powering the Legend
The Mustang Mach-E is the first expansion of the Mustang family in 56 years, which put a lot of pressure on Ford to design a vehicle worthy of the Mustang name. When you think of a Mustang, what immediately comes to mind? Jaw-dropping performance? Effortless handling? The rumbling heartbeat of a legend? Any extension of the Mustang name has to meet these requirements, so how does the all-electric Mach-E accomplish this epic feat?
The 2022 Mach-E gives you a choice between two electric powertrains—a standard or extended range battery with rear-wheel or all-wheel drive. The 70 kWh standard range battery delivers 266 horsepower and up to 428 lb-ft of near-instant torque for quick acceleration and handling. This power doesn’t sacrifice efficiency, with the Mach-E’s standard range battery offering a range between 224 and 247 miles.
Opting for the extended 91 kWh extended range battery pushes this capability further, delivering 290 horsepower, 317 lb-ft of near-instant torque, and a 314-mile range on the rear-wheel-drive Mach-E. All-wheel-drive models see a significant boost in power as the electric powerplant churns out 346 horsepower and 428 lb-ft of near-instant torque with an average range of 270 miles. For comparison, the 2021 Mustang with the standard 2.3L EcoBoost engine delivers up to 330 horsepower and 350 lb-ft of torque.
The real powerhouse is the Mustang Mach-E GT with its extended-range battery. The all-wheel-drive powerhouse pushes the Mach-E to its limits and delivers 480 horsepower and up to 634 lb-ft of near-instant torque. You won’t find this level of capability on the Mustang Mach 1 with its 5.0-liter V8 engine maxing out at 420 lb-ft of torque. The Mach-E GT’s exceptional power translates to a 3.8-second launch from 0 to 60 mph, putting it ahead of the Porsche Macan Turbo.
Quiet as a Mouse
When you think of the Mustang, it’s impossible not to imagine the rumbling of the engine as it comes to life. This rumble gives you subtle cues to your speed, whether navigating through town in low gear or cruising at highway speeds, pushing the speedometer and the engine until it purrs like a kitten. But what happens when the engine is quiet as a mouse? How important is sound to your experience behind the wheel, especially in an SUV that shares the Mustang name?
As with any electric powertrain, the Mach-E is incredibly quiet. While you can hear the SUV as it accelerates, it’s not as loud as an internal combustion engine and, therefore, doesn’t produce the iconic Mustang roar. That’s almost sacrilegious, isn’t it? But rest assured, Ford has an answer.
The Mach-E offers three unique drive experiences known as Whisper, Engage, and Unbridled, each of which delivers a unique sensory experience. The Mach-E’s Whisper mode quiets the electric powertrain further by turning off the interior sound and changing the ambient lighting to a blue hue. Since it’s designed to deliver a calm driving experience, Whisper also finetunes your acceleration and deceleration to be more gradual.
Beyond the hush of Whisper mode, the Mach-E’s Engage mode blends comfort with excitement by enhancing sound throughout the SUV. In Engage mode, the soft blue ambient lighting sets the mood. The in-vehicle sounds and the modest rumble of the engine create an entirely artificial soundtrack that gives you subtle cues to your speed. Think of it as Ford’s way of safeguarding you from a speeding ticket since the roar of the engine isn’t there to cue you in that it might be time to let off the throttle and bring that 90 mph speedometer reading back down to a leisurely 75 mph.
The Mach-E’s Unbridled mode celebrates the roar of a real V8 and, as Ford hopes, will help the Mach-E earn its legendary name. Promising to deliver an exhilarating driving experience, Unbridled mode does more than channel artificial sound into the cabin. It finetunes the throttle for improved responsiveness, adjusts the steering for a sportier and tighter feel, and gives you the sense that you’re downshifting. The orange ambient lighting adds to the experience, while the digital cluster display behind the steering wheel responds with custom animations relative to your acceleration, speed, and braking.
Artificial Engine Soundtracks: Revolutionary or Not?
The Mach-E’s artificial engine soundtrack is a hot topic among forums as drivers tend to either love it or hate it. Some argue that it’s helpful when they’re behind the wheel because it gives them a better sense of their speed than a passenger constantly nagging them to slow down. However, others argue that the Mach-E’s soundtrack sounds entirely fake and is better turned off.
Whichever side you take in the argument is a matter of personal choice. However, it’s essential to recognize that artificial engine sounds or sound enhancements aren’t new to the automotive industry. The reality is that cars, trucks, and SUVs are so well made that it can be hard to hear the engine. Any car enthusiast will tell you that the rumble of the engine is part of what makes driving enjoyable, which is why Ford relies on an Active Noise Control system to magnify the engine’s noise in models like the Mustang and F-150. BMW uses its Active Sound Design feature, while Volkswagen relies on a speaker in the cabin to connect to a Soundaktor system that gives the Golf R a more noticeable growl.
The Importance of Sound
What’s the Mustang without the roar of an engine? For most die-hard Mustang fans, it isn’t a Mustang. As of 2021, however, Ford calls it a Mustang Mach-E.
Sound is an integral part of our daily lives, especially when we’re in the driver’s seat. Sure, we can look down at the speedometer to check our speed, but there’s more to it than that. The more experience you have behind the wheel, the better attuned you are to the engine and what it sounds like at different speeds. This is especially the case when driving a Mustang or any car with a manual transmission. You learn when to shift gears based on the vehicle’s feel and the engine’s sound, an experience that gives you a more profound physical connection to the car and its performance.
So, what happens when the sound of the engine isn’t there? The Mach-E’s electric powertrain defies the age-old belief that a Mustang has to roar to life, making the SUV an oddity for car enthusiasts who appreciate a solid exhaust note. The Mach-E doesn’t roar or purr, at least not organically, which leaves us to wonder if this is the future of sound in the automotive industry since EVs seem destined to dominate our roads? That’s a question that only time can answer.