A well thought out all-round electric crossover, comfortable and capable, with good range and some driver appeal
Not a Mustang as you know it in any way, shape or form, some cheap trim, low speed ride
What is it?
Ford’s first fully-fledged electric car. And that makes it Very Important Indeed. You won’t find a Ford badge on it anywhere – we’ll come on to discuss what that means further on – but for now let’s dig into it a bit.
Firstly, some facts. Built on an all-new platform, it’s available with either a 75 (Standard Range) or 98kWh (Extended Range) battery, and with either a single motor (rear-wheel drive), or twin motor (all-wheel drive) layout. Claimed range is up to 372 miles, making it one of the longest-haul electric cars around. The entry-level car weighs just under two tonnes and has 265bhp, while the most potent GT version, capable of 0-62mph in 3.7 seconds, has 480bhp.
How much does it cost?
The most affordable model is the rear-wheel-drive Mach-E: 265bhp and £50,830 (although back when it was first launched a couple of years ago, you could get into one for much nearer £40k). One step up is the 290bhp Extended Range at £59,830. That’s the one that can go furthest between charges. The extra power is needed to ensure it’s not slower than the 120kg-lighter base model.
Then we have the dual motor AWD iteration. Where once you could pair this with the smaller battery and 265bhp for £49,650, you can currently only have the longer-range version with 346bhp, 351 miles of range and a price tag of £65,405.
The top-of-the-range GT version, available only in Extended Range, AWD form, will set you back £74,540. But for that price you’ll be able to play the trump card down the local that it’s quicker from 0-62mph than a 5.0-litre Mustang coupe. Confusing range of specs though, aren't there?
They all seat five, have a hatchback boot and a 100-litre ‘frunk’ in the nose. The bigger story, however, is up front in the cabin where you’ll find a Tesla-aping 15.5-inch portrait touchscreen and many claims about connectivity, phone mirroring, apps and self-driving. It works well, too – the physical knob controller is handy, if a little tacky – but compared to Tesla’s, takes a little bit of getting used to.
Which, really, is the story of the whole interior. See, Ford has clearly tried to blend past and future, with switchgear not abandoned to touchscreens entirely. And indeed in some cases, nicked from other Ford models (in the case of the column stalks, from the Fiesta - RIP).
Ford has clearly been busy with the sketchpad, but the materials and quality are just so-so: it feels decidedly American in comparison to its European counterparts. And given that this is now a £50k-plus car, some might feel Ford could have done better. More on that over on the interior tab.
But… is it a Mustang?
It certainly hints hard at it with the thrusting bonnet and light signatures. But this is badge engineering – it doesn’t feel or drive like a V8 Mustang in any way.
Now we’ve got that out the way, allow us to remind you that this is a two-tonne SUV. And initially, it feels that way. Around town you notice every bump in the road, thanks, in part, to the 18-inch wheels, but also because there’s nothing in the way of creaks or groans. It feels typically well built, this – full details in the driving tab.
Picking up speed thankfully improves things with the ride evening out, and it’s quick enough in the usual EV way: even in the least powerful 265bhp model, there’s a handy 317lb ft of torque to play with. Artificial steering means there’s little in the way of any feel whatsoever, and it’s not too confidence-inspiring around corners, but you can at least briskly emerge out the other side. Range anxiety permitting.
Speaking of which, our time with a long-term test Mach-E showed it to be fairly efficient: in cold, wet, winter weather, the AWD Extended Range managed 260 miles, against a claimed 335 miles, while on a warm summer’s day on a return journey from London to Peterborough, the RWD Standard Range managed 240 miles, against a claimed 273. Our experience suggests those aren’t bad returns.
OK, but why has Ford branded it as a Mustang, then?
We understand the reasoning and positioning – it’s a cool brand and helps Ford justify the money it needs to charge to turn a profit. But it also puts Ford in a dangerous position for the future.
The brand has been making a big song and dance about electrification, but mostly it's launching mild hybrids, plus a few plug-ins. The first proper BEV after this Mach-E was the e-Transit. As yet we have no sight of what Ford is planning to take on either the Vauxhall Corsa Electric and Peugeot e-208, or the VW ID.3 with. We do know it won't be the Fiesta though. But more than that, how will any future electric cars tie in to the Mach-E and benefit from its market positioning as Ford’s halo EV? Ford has potentially made a rod for its own back. And come to think of it, in the UK at least the perception of Mustang is of a relatively low-tech muscle car...
That’s all further down the line though. What you need to know now is that Ford’s pure electric SUV is here, lining up against the likes of the Volkswagen ID.4, Volvo XC40 Recharge and Tesla Model Y. How does it shape up, and more importantly, which one can cope best (if at all) with the family getaway? Click these blue words to find out…
Our choice from the range
What's the verdict?
The most important Ford since the Mondeo? The Model T? Probably somewhere between the two in terms of what it means to the brand and its future. As crucial as the original Mustang, then – another car that kick-started the blue oval and launched it into a new and exciting future.
Leaving any trace of Ford badging off the Mach-E is probably a short-term gain, but as mentioned at the start, could prove a long-term loss. But that’s not what we’re here to discuss. Make up your own mind about the look of the car and what it says about you, but be in no doubt that underneath this is a fundamentally very well executed machine. It treads the fine line between lifestyle and family versatility as deftly as either the Polestar 2 or Jaguar I-Pace, and like them has a bit about it dynamically. Put simply, for an electric car it’s engaging to drive.
Just don’t be misled by the badge. This is not a Mustang and to think of it as one is misleading. It’s an electric crossover. And it’s a good one.