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2024 Mustang Mach-E Rally First Drive Review: Bringing us dreams of the WRC

2024 Mustang Mach E Rally First Drive Review Bringing Us Dreams Of The Wrc

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Just as Ford tapped into the spirit of desert racing with the F-150 Raptor, so it goes with the 2024 Mustang Mach-E Rally. See, rally drivers are the most audacious (or deranged) folks to ever set their butt behind the wheel of a car. They drive at incredible speeds down narrow roads with a navigator constantly feeding them a barrage of indecipherable instructions gleaned from just one sighting pass. You likely aren’t quite as crazy-pants as famous rally drivers like Michele Mouton or Sebastien Loeb, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have a bit of fun piloting Ford’s newest Mach-E trim on the dirt.

The Rally takes the Mach-E GT and adds a few tweaks to make it dirt-worthy. There is a one-inch lift and skid plates protecting the front and rear motors. The front splitter is modified just a touch for a better approach angle. It has a front recovery hook, and the rocker panels have a paint protector to defend against gravel damage. I really dig the larger rear spoiler, and the white 19-inch rally-inspired wheels are an absolute chef’s kiss.

The Rally trim’s two electric motors get Ford’s Performance Upgrade, pushing out 480 ponies and 700 pound-feet of near-instant torque. It also gets the extended-range battery with 91 kilowatt-hours of juice. However, you’ll get just 265 miles of range on a full charge, compared to the GT’s 280 miles or the Premium trim’s 300. Still, it’s not a bad hit to take for something that can deliver so much fun.

I get a few laps in the Mach-E Rally at DirtFish Rally driving school outside of Seattle. This being the Pacific Northwest, it’s raining, and the gravel/dirt course is a slippery, muddy mess. Here is where tires play a key role. Ford outfitted the Rally trim with a set of Michelin CrossClimate2 all-season tires. As a dedicated rally tire, this definitely would not be my first choice, but Ford has to split the difference between range and traction. These get the job done, but those who really plan on hooning their Mach-E Rally in the dirt and gravel will want a rally-specific tire that likely will not be DOT-compliant.

We start off on a small course with the car in the sportiest street mode, dubbed Unbridled — there are also Whisper and Engage modes, and whoever named them should probably rename them (what’s wrong with just Comfort, Sport and Sport Plus?). Regardless, in Unbridled mode on a slippery surface, the traction control kicks in early, keeping oversteer at bay. The steering feels pretty loose, and the torque delivery isn’t quite as instant as I want it to be. It’s fun, but it’s not, you know, fun.

We move to the larger track and I select the new RallySport mode. Now I have the full shebang at my disposal. The steering gets much heftier and communicates a bit more feel into the hands. It’s easier to tell when the tires are close to the edge of grip. RallySport mode doesn’t turn off all the nannies, but traction control is definitely less heavy-handed. Oh, and there isn’t any lift-off throttle brake regeneration. I have to use the mechanical brakes to get this 5,000-pound beast to slow down before a turn.

In fact, I have to brake a smidge earlier on corner entry than I want to, since this car is so porky. Not only do I need to slow the thing down — momentum can end your day in a hurry — but I also need to get some weight transferred over the front end to keep the Mach-E from understeering. But that is nothing compared to what happens on corner exit.

RallySport mode brings the torque in much quicker, and it’s very linear. Combined with the single-speed transmission, it means that I always have power coming out of a turn. There is no shifting here, no turbo lag — just getting on the throttle quickly, squeezing out the power and letting the all-wheel-drive system claw its way around the turn. Do I induce oversteer a few times? Heck yeah, I do! But a bit of countersteering and patience keep the Mach-E from coming around all the way.

I really love what the MagneRide suspension does, as well. These shocks have little magnetic particles that can change the viscosity of the shock fluid. The car’s computer runs a current through the fluid, causing those particles to clump together. The result is a shock that can be harder or softer in milliseconds. In RallySport mode, they even get electronic bump stops to soak up any high-impact events at the top or bottom of the shocks’ travel. So I can be in the middle of a turn, hit a rut and the car doesn’t get upset. It’s pretty slick.

Now, don’t get any fun ideas about the Mach-E Rally being a desert race car. It’s not, electronic bump stops or not. It doesn’t have the ground clearance or suspension travel to handle the challenges of whoops or rocks. It would probably be pretty darn fun in soft sand but, again, the minimum running ground clearance here is just 5.8 inches. It would be very easy to get high-centered on a dune.

Instead, this is a car for those who want to take their daily driver to a rallycross event every now and again. Driving it on the pavement is best done in Unbridled mode, as the steering in RallySport is way too heavy for corner carving on the pavement. The all-season tires do a nice job on wet pavement, keeping the car planted and secure during the Seattle downpour. The standard heated front seats and steering wheel are a nice touch too.

Commuting is made easier by plenty of standard advanced drivers’ aids. You’ll get blind-spot monitoring, lane-keeping assist, automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control and the like, but buyers also get a 90-day trial of Ford’s BlueCruise technology standard on the Rally trim that allows for hands-free driving and driver-indicated auto-lane changes.

During my time on the DirtFish course I’m having too much fun to really care about how many electrons I’m using up, but you’ll want to pay fairly close attention. The Mach-E Rally can accept a DC fast charge of 150 kW, but that’s just the peak rate – you won’t get that speed for the entire session. However, Ford says the Rally can charge from 10% to 80% in 36 minutes. If you’re charging at home, the 11.5-kW onboard charger is definitely quick enough to fill the battery overnight.

When it comes to the competition, well … there are plenty of electric SUVs on the market right now. The Tesla Model Y is likely its best rival, and Tesla owners are probably the only other folks who would want to rally their rides. I mean, come on — do you think someone in a Cadillac Lyriq is going to head out to the forest to see how fast they can slalom through the trees? No.

However, throw a set of rally tires on the Hyundai Ioniq 5 N and you could have a proper race, and I could also see the upcoming Rivian R3 throwing its battery into the ring. An actual OEM electric rally race series would be amazing, but alas, I think we’ll be lucky to see even one Mustang Mach-E Rally with a full roll cage, ready for the 100 Acre Wood Rally.

The 2024 Mustang Mach-E Rally starts at just under $62,000 including delivery, but the good news is that there aren’t too many options to add aside from a few paint colors or three years of BlueCruise. Even better news, many local rallies only require a helmet and neck restraint, so you can get out and have fun straight away. I guarantee you’ll have a dopey grin on your face the whole time.

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