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I rode in the 2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E to find out if it's worthy of the Mustang name

Ford has delivered on the promise to debut a new all-electric SUV.

Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

There are no coincidences in the automotive world, so it was no surprise that I found myself riding shotgun in a 2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E electric vehicle prototype in front of SpaceX and Tesla's offices in Los Angeles. Ford's all-electric crossover is their most ambitious electric vehicle project to date. With styling, range, and debut location, they proved that they are targeting Tesla and their customers.

The Mustang Mach-E is, according to Ford, 100-percent Mustang. For those who are used to seeing the Mustang as a sports coupe with rear-wheel drive, an electric crossover with available all-wheel drive bearing the Mustang name might be eyebrow raising.

2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E The Mustang Mach-E has many exterior design attributes usually reserved for the Mustang coupe.Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

That skepticism is one of the many reasons why, during a secret reveal ahead of the global debut, Ford shuttled me around Hawthorne, California in one of the Mustang Mach-E prototypes. The company was out to prove to me that they built a vehicle worthy of the Mustang name.

The model Ford put me in was the Mustang Mach-E Premium all-wheel drive, extended range model. That EV runs to 60 mph from a standstill in a hair over 5 seconds. Because electric motors make torque immediately, the car pushes the driver and passengers relentlessly back in their seat as they make that run. The torque makes the car feel faster than it is.

For folks who want to go faster, the Mustang Mach-E GT Performance trim should do that same run in around 3 seconds. When the GT Performance goes on sale in early 2021 (late 2020 for the other models), the quickest accelerating Mustang you'll be able to buy will likely be electric.

2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E interior seats cabin The cabin of the new model is spacious.Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

On a route around Hawthorne, I was able to experience the car's on-road manners. Even though it was an early prototype, the cabin was quiet. That's in part due to the lack of a motor but also because of the car's three performance modes for the Mach-E – Whisper, Engaged and Unbridled. In Unbridled mode, which is what I experienced, the car allows computer-generated internal combustion engine-like sounds to flow into the cabin when accelerating hard.

Unlike the Jaguar I-Pace's piped-in growl, the Mach-E's sounds natural for a performance car. It doesn't exactly sound like a gasoline-powered car, but it adds a soundtrack to the spirited drive that this author doesn't find obtrusive. In Whisper mode, the car is relatively silent.

Cornering, at least from the passenger seat, felt relatively flat. The low center of gravity of the battery pack helps a ton. Right now, there is no adjustable suspension system, like MagneRide, that is available on other Mustang models.

2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E infotainment screen steering wheel dashboard Ford has simplified the interior of the car in a very Tesla-esque fashion.Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

The Mustang Mach-E takes many interior cues from Tesla design though many elements are unmistakably from the Ford team. There is a large, center-mounted screen that handles most of the controls of the infotainment system and vehicle functionality. Interestingly, while the center screen handles most of it, there still is an instrument cluster to provide vitals – something Tesla has done away with.

Display vehicles had gobs of space inside, including numerous of storage cubbies for nearly everything. Fit and finish were solid for vehicles this far along in the process and it felt more Tesla Model 3 inside than Mustang.

The new infotainment system supports routing based on how long you'll sit at a charger and which chargers you need to stop at – basically what a Tesla does. Another first for Ford is support for both wireless Apple Car Play and wireless Android Auto.

Additionally, the Mustang Mach-E has truly hands-off Level 2 semi-autonomous driving. It'll be an over-the-air update after launch for customers, but there are cameras in the car that watch the driver to make sure they are paying attention. If they are, and the roads are digitally mapped, the Mach-E will handle most of the driving duties for the driver. The system is very similar to how Cadillac's Super Cruise technology works and is not hands-off.

2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E rear seat back sunroof moonroof panoramic vegan leather The rear seats of the Mustang Mach-E offer more legroom than what you'll find in the Jaguar I-Pace.Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

It's difficult to determine how good a car is going to be based on a ten-minute ride in the passenger seat. However, it is obvious even after that little time that Ford checked all the right boxes during the development of their new EV. This is likely the first viable mainstream competitor to Tesla, and Tesla should consider themselves put on notice.

In short, the Mustang Mach-E should have performance similar to the Jaguar I-Pace or Tesla Model 3, but with more rear seat headroom than the I-Pace, and better reliability. It looks far more attractive than the Nissan Leaf or anything the Korean automakers are doing, and since it'll be available in all 50 states, you'll be able to purchase and repair it in a town near you, just like what you could do with an F-150.

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The 2021 Lexus LC 500 Inspiration Series turns the car into a stealthy black coupe.

Photo courtesy of Lexus

The new, 2021 Lexus LC 500 Inspiration Series gets blacked out features, carbon fiber accents, and performance enhancements. The luxury arm of Toyota will make just 100 of the models, which is expected to be priced at $119,800 before taxes and fees.

The new car is the result of a partnership between air race pilot Yoshihide Muroya and Lexus engineers, some of whom have worked on the LC and LFCA. The engineers worked on Muroya's plane using what they'd learned in LC 500 development to achieve aerodynamic efficiencies. These changes helped set Muroya off on his path that would eventually lead to him winning the 2017 Red Bull Air Race World Championships.

2021 Lexus LC 500 Inspiration Series

Photo courtesy of Lexus

The 2021 Inspiration Series car has a combination of features not found on any other LC package. The limited-edition vehicle is offered in one exterior color, Obsidian, and wears 21-inch black forged-alloy wheels. Pulling in inspiration from the the aircraft, the team designed a carbon-fiber reinforced plastic (CFRP) spoiler that follows along the trailing edge arc of the trunk of the LC and features two downtrend winglets on either end.

Each model continues to get its power from a naturally aspirated, 471-horsepower 5.0 V8 engine that makes 398 pound-feet of torque. The engine is paired with a 10-speed automatic transmission that drivers can shift using magnesium paddles on the car's wheel. All that power moves the car from zero to 60 mph in 4.4 seconds.

Lexus has equipped the model with a standard Torsen limited slip differential and Yamaha rear performance rod with damper, an available option on other LC models.

The car's cabin is blacked out as well with black Alcantara-trimmed sport seats complete with Saddle Tan accents and seat belts. The steering wheel and shift lever are also accented in black Alcantara trim. A carbon-fiber scuff plate features at the the door while a serialized badge on the center console identifies the uniqueness of the model.

A 13-speaker Mark Levinson Reference Surround Sound Audio system is standard, as is a head-up display, and SmartAccess Card Key (similar to what Tesla offers).

The 2021 Lexus LC 500 Inspiration Series is on sale now.

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The Hyundai Kona N is being teased ahead of its official debut.

Photo courtesy of Hyundai Motor Group

The Hyundai Kona N will be the company's first SUV N family member. The company has released new teaser photos of a camoflauged version of the Koan N traversing a variety of terrain including a race track and trail. The Kona N is expected to be a global model that will be available for sale in the U.S.

"We're excited to expand the recipe for success we've developed with the i30 N and, most recently, with the i20 N to one of our most popular SUVs on the market today: Kona," says Andreas-Christoph Hofmann, Vice President of Marketing & Product at Hyundai Motor Europe. "The addition of Kona to the N family will bring our high-performance brand to the next level."

2022 Hyundai Kona N

Photo courtesy of Hyundai Motor Group

Hyundai will give the Kona N the same power plant that's in the Veloster N, a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder that's paired with an eight-speed wet dual-clutch transmission. Look for it to make around 275 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque in the Kona N.

Hyundai is promising that the model will come with a variety of performance centric equipment and features, not just exterior and interior design accents, including Launch Control and what they call "an emotional sound experience".

Details about wheels and all-wheel drive are pending. Expect the SUV to get a fresh suspension setup and bigger brakes, something that's pretty status quo for N models.

The exterior and Interior of the Kona N are likely to feature unique accents but come from the same refreshed Kona design that debuted late last year.

"The all-new Kona N is the first 'hot SUV' from the N brand," says Till Wartenberg, Vice President and Head of N Brand Management and Motorsport Sub-division at Hyundai Motor Company. "As a 'hot SUV', it will have plenty of versatility as well as the driving pleasure like any other N vehicle. N-thusiasts will enjoy taking this car anywhere; from road to the track."

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