► A ride across London in Ford's new EV
► Up to 370-mile range, 0-60 in sub-4sec
► First impressions of Ford's new EV
Ford’s electrification strategy has been a bit of a slow burner, and as of 2020 it still doesn’t offer a single pure-electric vehicle. That’s set to change in 2021, when the Mustang Mach-E electric SUV launches.
Despite the Mustang name, Ford’s electric SUV doesn’t feature a low-slung coupe body or a roaring V8 engine. Instead, you have Michigan’s idea of what a global, premium electric vehicle should be – a rakishly-styled crossover with impressive (if not ground-breaking) performance, space for all the family and one of the longest all-electric ranges on the market.
We’ve not yet been handed the keys to the Mustang SUV, but we have been allowed an extensive prod and poke around a near-production model, as well as a short passenger ride across Central London.
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First impressions are of a car that looks smaller than its 4.7-metre length, stuffed with retro styling cues that – perhaps surprisingly – work very well when translated to an SUV. Whisper it so the purists don’t hear, but the Mustang Mach-E actually looks rather good – and attracts more than its share of glances, photos and head-turns on our journey.
How short was your ride in the Stang Mach-E?
Short enough that it’s nearly impossible to draw any conclusions on how the Mach-E rides or handles outside of the sub-30mph confines of Marble Arch and its surrounding roads.
The experience began in an underground car park where Ford had coned off a small area for a scant few seconds of full throttle. There isn’t an EV on the market that doesn’t deliver a satisfying surge of acceleration from a standstill, and the Mach-E joins that crowd.
It’s certainly quick, with 0-60mph dealt with in less than five seconds, but it doesn’t feel as though it’ll rearrange your face in the same way a Tesla would. Power outputs range 258bhp to 290bhp for single-motor variants, and 290bhp or 337bhp for dual-motor all-wheel drive cars. A GT-badged car will arrive later with 465bhp, claiming a sub-four-second 0-60mph sprint.
The Mach-E has three driving modes. They’re named Whisper, Engage, and (try not to cringe) Unbridled. Comfort, Normal, and Sport, come back – all is forgiven. You’ll also find a simple toggle for regenerative braking, called One-Pedal Mode. It’s a shame this won’t be more controllable.
A brief wiggle – calling it a slalom would be too generous – proves that the steering wheel is at least attached to the front wheels, and then it’s out onto London’s crowded streets for a brief slog through traffic.
Suspension tuning is firm, but not overly so – it’s more ST-Line than full-fat ST – but big squashy American-style seats with wide bases isolate your bum from everything that the springs don’t.
Refinement is decent, too; it’s not Mercedes EQC levels of isolation, but it’s easily on a level with Tesla here. However, no matter how hard we listen, we can’t hear the ‘distinctive but emotional’ sound we’ve been promised from the drivetrain – an interesting response to EU regs requiring EVs to make *some* noise at low speeds so pedestrians don’t walk into them.
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What’s the Ford Mustang Mach-E like inside?
Our test ride is in a very pre-production model, with a big ‘STOP’ button atop the dashboard, a totally frozen infotainment system and mismatching stitching. Luckily, there’s a static car set up a short walk away so we can have a proper look around.
As with most electric cars, the skateboard-style battery compartment under the floor means it’s more of a step up than you might expect. But once ensconced in the cabin, the floor’s totally flat, and there’s ample space in all four seats.
The dashboard is, of course, dominated by that huge portrait infotainment screen. It’s 15.5 inches on the diagonal and controls the vast majority of the car’s functions – though, unlike the Tesla Model 3, driving data is presented on a secondary display behind the steering wheel.
The central screen is slick to operate but it’s disappointing to see how many menus and sub-menus you need to wade through in order to control basic driving functions. A couple of dedicated functions for these would be simpler, and more in keeping with the ‘Mustang’ part of ‘Mustang Mach-E’.
There are buttons dotted around the cabin, too, which is slightly disappointing as they appear to be lifted directly from the common or garden Focus. The rest, though, feels impressively high-quality – and the full-width speaker bar on the dashboard is a really interesting touch. One whose power we appreciate when the door chimes come on at full volume…
Too early to tell, of course – and while all Ford Mustang Mach-Es will be built in Mexico, European models will have a bespoke chassis tune and suspension set-up to make them more suitable for our roads.
Purely based on what we’ve experienced here, the Ford Mach-E is a good-looking EV with a headline range that feels nimble and quick on the roads. The interior impresses, as do the looks. And the promotion has obviously worked – even before the car’s officially available, Ford’s sold out of the initial run of First Edition models – and the people buying them are on average 10 years younger than normal.
If the price tag is right and Ford can pull off the same trick it’s been doing for many years (namely, making its normal models drive with more dynamism than they rightly deserve) this could be an EV well worth watching. Will it be worthy of the Mustang name, though?
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