Past performance might not guarantee future success but Ford clearly doesn’t agree. A latecomer to the electric vehicle party, it knew it had to make an entrance few could ignore – and what better way than to name your first model after a true icon?
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A NEW BREED OF MUSTANG
Motoring enthusiasts will always hanker for power and pedigree – and few cars offer both in such copious amounts as the Mustang. Trouble is, the world is changing and to keep its shareholders happy Ford’s board needed to cash-in on the EV craze that continues to sweep the world. The question for them was how? In the end the decision was taken to reinvent the famous Pony Car by bringing it bang up-to-date by building a battery version. For the home market the line-up comprises two regular trim levels – ‘Mach-E’ and ‘AWD’ – and two special versions called ‘Limited Edition’ and ‘GT’. We are testing the Extended Range AWD to determine if Ford has backed a winner, or if it will fall at the first hurdle.
KEEPING IT IN THE FAMILY
Let’s be honest, EV ownership isn’t exactly cool whereas Mustang is the epitome of the word. So, the more you think about it the more Ford’s decision makes sense to grow – and electrify – the badge. As a SUV it sits farther from the road than the muscle car, has five doors instead of only two, is capable of carrying a family of five and their luggage, and is kinder to the environment. Apart from the badge, what marks the Mach-E out as having Mustang DNA is the long bonnet, sweptback headlight ‘brow’, blistered rear haunches and tri-bar tail-lights. It wouldn’t be an SUV, of course, without body protection and in the case of our test care this had a piano black gloss finish to it. This was repeated on the front grille surround and roof spoiler, while 19-inch alloys and red brake calipers add to the sense of occasion.
DOES IT DRIVE LIKE A MUSTANG?
Ford is renowned for building drivers’ cars. In other words, cars that are fun, that engage and excite. Before we delve into how the Mach-E steers and handles, you need to know that this Extended Range SUV runs an all-wheel-drive powertrain to distribute the battery’s energy to an electric motor on the front and rear axles. A combined power output of 346bhp ensures instant acceleration despite its 2.1 tonne kerb weight; select the ‘Untamed’ drive mode and forward progress is accompanied by augmented sound akin to being in the Starship Enterprise. At low speeds the steering is light and gradually weighs up with feel as you press on, with one-pedal driving easily achieved via the two-stage regenerative braking system. Dynamically, it is more of a point and squirt car but on a flowing B-road the Mach-E, with the added assurance of AWD, holds on through corners like a limpet to a rock and remains steadfastly upright. Better still, apart from the occasional creak, the firm suspension doesn’t hurt ride or refinement.
PRACTICALITY IS WELL COVERED
Morphing into an SUV automatically ups cabin space in the front and in the back. Across the board, there is a fair amount of room for three adults seated across the rear bench, although the middle portion does have a hump that, combined with a drop-down armrest that sits slightly proud, could make for an unsettled journey. The sense of spaciousness is helped by a huge fixed panoramic glass sunroof, and while the 402-litre boot isn’t class-leading, it should tick most boxes for work or getaway purposes as it can swallow up to seven carry-on cases. And unlike some EVs, the charge cables can be stowed in the 81-litre ‘frunk’ under the bonnet. Plastic lined, it has a drain should you ever need to hose it out.
THE INTERIOR IS MINIMALIST
Car companies seldom admit it but they draw inspiration from their rivals and in the Mach-E’s case there is a real sense Tesla has been the benchmark for Ford’s design team. The most obvious clue is the gargantuan centre touchscreen that houses all of the car’s functions. Bar a volume dial, it removes the need for physical switches and buttons for a clean, uncluttered look. This is joined by a letterbox-shaped display behind the steering wheel that contains essential information from speed to warnings to sat-nav directions. In keeping with the Mustang’s sporting image, the Mach-E has faux carbon fibre trim along the dash and door cards, with the leather steering wheel, ventilated and heated seats and centre arm rest garnished with red stitching. Materials for a car north of £50,000 are OK but won’t worry any of Germany’s big three, with a fair chunk of the switchgear – including the gear selector dial, light panel buttons, indicator and windscreen wiper stalks – all lifted from lesser models in the Ford range.
PROS & CONS
+ Possesses real driver appeal
+ Comfortable and capable
+ Huge useable range
– Quality could be better
– Low-speed ride is fidgety
– Few models to choose from
CHARGING: At an average speed of 60mph, the Mustang Mach-E Extended Range promises a 300-mile range, so most journeys can easily be completed on a full charge. The downside to running a larger battery is longer charging times; even when hooked up to a rapid charger (150kW), 45 minutes for a 10% to 80% refresh is required. Being able to store the cables out of the way in the ‘frunk’ under the long bonnet is a bonus.
INTERIOR: Every cabin function, from the sat-nav to heating and ventilation, is accessed and operated via the 15.5-inch multimedia screen. It is easy to get on to as the clearly labelled buttons are a decent size, while the digital driver display takes on a different appearance depending on the preferred drive model. There are some material variations on the dash and doors but the predominant colour is black.
STYLING: It may be unlike any Mustang before but Ford’s designers have done a commendable job of injecting some of the performance car’s DNA into the Mach-E. 19-inch dual tone alloys look smart and the touch sensitive buttons on the base of the B- and C-pillars that open the doors is a novel idea. A panoramic sunroof is included in the price, although ‘Rapid Red’ metallic paint bumps the total up by exactly £1,150.
PRACTICALITY: The 402-litre boot is easy to load up thanks to a level opening; total space with the seats in the back pushed forward expands to just over 1,400-litres. Head and shoulder room are fine in the back and the flat floor allows for a good deal of foot space. Those in the front and rear get one USB and one USB-C connection to charge phones and tablets, four cup holders and reasonably-sized door bins for water bottles.
Price: £57,980 (as tested)
Battery/motor: 98.7kWh/Two e-motors
Power/torque: 346bhp/428lb ft
Transmission: Single-speed automatic, four-wheel drive
0-62mph: 5.8 seconds
Top speed: 111mph