How Ford Tested The New Mustang Mach E Rally

Ford Mustang Mach E Rally Testing (Ford)

What began as a casual conversation in an engineering breakroom has culminated in the birth of the Mustang Mach-E® Rally, a testament to the power of passion, design, and engineering. This rally-inspired version of the Mustang Mach-E® is set to take the off-road world by storm.

The Genesis of an Idea

In early 2022, product planners Peter Schultz and Craig Migliori were greeted with a simple yet intriguing question: “Can we make a rally-inspired version of the Mustang Mach-E?” This query sparked a journey that would see a hand-me-down Mach-E GT transformed into a rally-ready SUV.

Ford Mustang Mach E Rally Testing (Ford)

Testing the Concept

The initial step involved adding some wheels and off-road tires to the Mach-E GT and taking it to Ford’s Michigan Proving Grounds. The goal was simple: determine if this modified Mach-E could handle laps in the dirt. The answer was a resounding yes.

Engineering the Mach-E Rally

From the outset, the team knew the Mach-E Rally needed more than just a rally-inspired appearance; it required true rallycross capability. Key modifications included:

  • Suspension and Lift: A 1-inch lift from the normal Mustang Mach-E GT suspension height, coupled with RallyCross-tuned shocks and springs, enables the SUV to tackle uneven and rough terrain.
  • Wheels and Tires: Gloss-white 19-inch wheels wrapped in Michelin® CrossClimate2 rubber provide the necessary traction and strength for loose surfaces.
  • Underbody Protection: Shielding helps protect the vehicle from the grime and debris typical of rallycross driving.

High-Performance Styling

To emphasize its high-performance nature, the Mach-E Rally boasts unique contrasting accents, including:

  • Body Moldings and Splitter: Upper and lower body moldings, a unique front splitter, and a distinctive rear spoiler for aggressive styling.
  • Roof and Lights: A black painted steel roof and built-in rally-inspired fog lights complete the look.
Ford Mustang Mach E Rally Testing (Ford)

Proving Ground Testing

Ensuring the Mach-E Rally could handle the rigors of rallycross driving required extensive testing. Ford off-road attributes engineer Chris Berchin and vehicle engineering supervisor Jay Kistler led the effort. The testing process included a new 500-combined mile torture test at Ford’s Michigan Proving Grounds, simulating the equivalent of 10 years of monthly rallycross racing.

Real-World Rallycross Conditions

Chris and Jay’s team tested the Mach-E Rally in various weather scenarios and temperatures, with conditions ranging from muddy to dry. The diverse dirt surfaces at the proving grounds offered different traction scenarios, closely mimicking real rallycross environments.

Ford Mustang Mach E Rally Testing (Ford)

Building a Rallycross Course

What began as an unused field at Ford’s Michigan Proving Grounds was transformed into a fully functional rallycross testing course. The team attended rallycross events and interviewed drivers to ensure the course mirrored real rallycross environments. Using computer-aided engineering (CAE) analysis, they meticulously plotted out the course’s twists and turns, mapping elevation, expected speeds, and timing.

Secrecy and Success

The in-house development of both the course and the Mach-E Rally kept costs and development time down while maintaining the project’s secrecy. This approach earned the team a Vehicle Engineering Validation award from Ford, celebrating the successful, entirely in-house project.

Ford Mustang Mach E Rally Testing (Ford)

Performance Enhancements

The Mach-E Rally’s modifications extended beyond aesthetics. Key performance enhancements include:

  • Powertrain and Suspension: The powertrain calibration, traction control, and MagneRide® suspension are specifically tuned for dirt-track and rallycross capability.
  • Raised Suspension: This helps ensure the vehicle’s performance on dirt tracks and rallycross courses.
  • RallySport Drive Mode: This drive mode unleashes the full capability of the Mustang Mach-E Rally SUV, providing added yaw for bigger slides, linear throttle response for better control, and more aggressive damping for improved handling in loose corners.

From Idea to Reality

The Mustang Mach-E Rally started as a single question just over two years ago. Now, it is ready to be in the hands of customers and, more importantly, on the dirt track. This journey from concept to reality is a true testament to what can be achieved when passion meets engineering excellence.