Ford Mustang Mach-E overview
There are some who feel that Ford's decision to name its sleek all-electric SUV as a member of the Mustang family was a mistake. Nay; a heresy. Those people include my own 12-year-old son, who has decided that cars called Mustang should only come with roaring V8 petrol engines. He is immoveable on this.
Well, almost immoveable. A few days' exposure to this, the rear-wheel-drive, long-range version of the Mach-E (the name is a play on that of the original and current Mustang's Mach-1 model) started to cool his iciness towards an electric Mustang, as well it might.
It's an exposure that the rest of Ireland's car buyers could do with. Against impressive sales for rivals such as Volkswagen's ID.4 and the Hyundai Ioniq 5, the Mustang Mach-E has struggled to break into three-figure volumes in Ireland. That seems like a shame, and so we need to determine if it's the car that's at fault, or the straitened supply of cars coming in as Ford races to keep up with impressive US-market demand for the Mach-E.
So, which is it?
The Ford Mustang Mach-E model range
The Mustang Mach-E line-up starts with a choice of rear-wheel-drive standard range, or rear-wheel-drive extended range models, priced €61,493 and €66,814, respectively. The standard-range version gets a 70kWh (useable) battery, a 269hp electric motor and an official range of 440km. Standard equipment includes 18-inch alloy wheels, LED headlights and LED brake lights styled to look like the three-bar brake lights of the original 1954 Ford Mustang coupe. You also get puddle lights that project an image of the Mustang's stampeding pony badge onto the ground, privacy glass, 'Sensico' seat trim, power-adjusted and heated seats and steering wheel, a 10.2-inch digital driver's display and a massive 15.5-inch central touchscreen, wireless phone charging, front and rear parking sensors, rear-view camera, blind-spot monitoring, adaptive cruise control, selectable driving modes, dual-zone climate control, pre-collision assistance, driver alert monitor, lane-keeping steering, Ford's ever-excellent 'Quickclear' heated windscreen and 115kW rapid charging.
The long-range version, which we're testing here, gets a larger battery (91kWh) with a 290hp electric motor and a 610km range. Equipment levels are the same, aside from the fact that the extended-range Mach-E gets faster DC-charging, up to 150kW.
Next up is the all-wheel-drive, extended-range model, which uses two electric motors for four-wheel drive, has 351hp and a range of 540km. Standard equipment above the other models' includes 19-inch alloy wheels, red brake calipers, adaptive LED headlights, a 360-degree camera, a hands-free tailgate, a Bang & Olufsen stereo with a distinctive soundbar that forms the top part of the dashboard, advanced parking assistance and a panoramic roof. Prices for this model start from €77,873.
At the top of the range is the GT model, which is also four-wheel drive, but has a whopping 840Nm of torque and can accelerate from 0-100km/h in just 3.7 seconds. Its range falls to just 310km, though. Standard equipment includes 20-inch alloy wheels, a unique blacked-out grille design, 19-inch Brembo brakes with red calipers, a GT body kit, 'GT Performance' seats and 'MagneRide' adaptive suspension dampers. Prices for the GT start from €83,223.
Ford Ireland doesn't list a specific example of monthly repayments for the Mustang Mach-E on a PCP or HP finance plan, but it does offer a 4.9 per cent APR interest rate on such finance packages. Find out more at the Ford Options website.
The Ford Mustang Mach-E interior
With the Mustang Mach-E's interior, you kind of have to take the good with the bad. The bad stuff is that there are too many cheap-looking plastics on display, and the column stalks and steering wheel buttons lifted from the basic Focus have absolutely no business being in a car that costs the thick end of €70,000.
To be honest, that's about it for the bad stuff; the upside of the cheap materials on display is that the Mach-E's cabin is impressively well put together. In spite of the firm suspension (see below...) there was not a single audible rattle nor squeak over a week's driving, which is not something you can say for all rivals.
The Mach-E's cabin is also comfortable, with excellent front seats along with good rear legroom and headroom, in spite of the sleek roofline and that panoramic glass roof. Sit in the driver's seat and you'll notice that there's not a single physical Ford badge to be seen - in the centre of the steering wheel is the Mustang pony logo. Behind the wheel, and running the full width of the dash on our up-specced test car, was the B&O stereo's sound bar, which does a good job of making up, in cabin ambience terms, what the cheap buttons and switches have squandered.
The Mustang's digital displays are good. The slim display behind the wheel just gives you speed (labelled as Ground Speed, in a kitsch nod to the car's namesake, the North American P-51 Mustang fighter aircraft of the Second World War), range and battery level and not much else. It's clear, simple, and actually quite elegant.
In the centre of the dash is the vast 15.5-inch touchscreen, clearly influenced by Tesla's Model S and Model X in its portrait orientation. There's a single physical control - the large volume wheel set into the lower part of the screen - but the Mustang almost dodges around our usual complaints of having no proper heating and ventilation controls by keeping those digital buttons always accessible on the screen, as well as making them relatively straightforward to use.
The rest of the screen is broadly good. Some of the menus and setting options are a little bit 'deep-dive' but for the most part it's straightforward, and displays such as that for the navigation look very classy. It also neatly integrates Apple CarPlay and Android Auto into a central panel in the screen. It's not perfect though. At one point during our week with the car, the screen simply refused to fire up for about 30 minutes. Eventually I had to do a complete stop-park-exit-lock-re-enter-re-start to get it going again. Physical buttons still have their place...
Below the big screen there's lots of storage, including a rubber-lined tray that houses the wireless phone charger and two USB sockets (one Type-A, one Type-C). Behind that you'll find the (somewhat fiddly) rotary gear selector, the switch for the electric parking brake and the button that selects the automated parking system. Directly below all of that there's a large open storage tray that is big enough to hold a small bag, albeit it won't be covered up.
Under the adjustable armrest there's a storage area with a sliding lid that's usefully deep and roomy, and which houses another USB socket.
In the back, thanks to the flat floor, there's lots of space, albeit the rear seat is a touch too narrow for squeezing in three adults side-by-side. There are only ISOFIX anchor points on the outer two rear seats. At least rear-seat passengers do get the same USB-A and USB-C sockets as those up front, and the rear seats are comfortable and supportive if you're driving four-up.
The boot is a bit disappointing, with just 402 litres of volume up to the rather flimsy luggage cover (which at least is easy to stow away when you don't want it). There is some recompense in the fact that the boot is wide, flat and square in shape and the 'frunk' storage space in the nose is surprisingly useful, swallowing charging cables and some shopping.
The Ford Mustang Mach-E driving experience
With 290hp on offer, you might think that this is something of a broken horse. After all, a petrol V8 Mustang corrals 460hp. But you'd be surprised how lively the Mach-E feels in this rear-wheel-drive form. A kerb weight of 2,160kg is certainly chunky, but not excessive in terms of cars with big 90kWh battery packs, and the 430Nm of torque that's available is sufficient to make the Mach-E feel quicker than its seven-second 0-100km/h time might suggest.
The Mach-E has three selectable driving modes. There's a catch-all mode called 'Active'; a range-saving mode called 'Whisper'; and, in keeping with the horsey theme, a performance mode called 'Untamed.' Activate 'Untamed' and not only do you get weightier steering, snappier accelerator response and a more tolerant stability control setting, you also get a piped-in 'engine noise' that tries its best to replicate the classic V8 engine rumble, and which is at least partially successful.
In Untamed mode, the Mustang actually does start to live up to its sporting badge - long and easy-going tailslides are there for the taking if you really want them, and although the steering can be a touch inconsistent in its responses, it is at least enthusiastic in its feel and speed. There's certainly never a sense that the Mach-E is in any way reluctant to corner.
Switch it back into Whisper mode and things calm down a bit, but there's a problem with the suspension - it's just too firm and fidgety. Now, this needs a little context. Compared to a hard-riding Tesla Model Y, the Mach-E is still on the firm side, but is much better-damped (and its interior doesn't rattle and clatter in sympathy with the bumps). Compared to an Audi Q4 e-tron, the Mach-E is just too unsettled too much of the time. Really, it needs the MagneRide dampers of the more expensive GT model.
However, while the Mach-E can be occasionally frustrating in its chassis responses, what happens when you swap into another car is quite profound. Unless the car you're swapping into is really quite dynamically gifted, you might find yourself pining for the precision and agility of the Mustang, not to mention is smooth, powerful throttle response. Well, I did anyway.
What of that battery? Well, you're unlikely to reach the official 610km one-charge range unless you're being exceptionally gentle with the throttle and not doing any long motorway runs. And you hate both air conditioning and heating. During our week with the Mach-E I had to make a couple of those long motorway runs, and it was chilly, so I had the heating turned up. Do that, and the Mach-E long range will probably give you about 450km between charges, about 50km less than a Long Range Tesla Model Y in the same circumstances.
In more mixed conditions, 500km should be do-able, and it charges up quickly from a rapid DC public charging point. Impressively, and in spite of the heating and the motorway miles, the average electric consumption refused to budge above 18kWh/100km, which is really good for a car this big and with such good all-round performance.
Our verdict on the Ford Mustang Mach-E
The Mustang Mach-E is something of an enigma of a car. It's so tantalisingly close to being brilliant, yet it's held back by some minor details and things - like the column stalks and ride quality - that you feel a company of Ford's size and talents should really not let out the door unresolved. For all the 'good in parts' of the thing, though, the Mach-E is a car that really grows on you, and it has impressive handling, performance, quality and a reasonable electric range.
What do the rest of the team think?
Funnily enough, I too have a son that mocks the Mach-E for its illusions of Mustang-ness, and I tend to agree with him. Nonetheless, while this EV is nothing like Ford's iconic pony car, it is a decent electric option in its own right. The pricing sets it above the biggest-selling electric SUVs on the market, however, and it's not tangibly way better than those, so its sales are likely to be modest regardless of how well it drives.
Shane O' Donoghue - Editor