Ford Mustang Mach-E (2021) review: plug-in pony

► Ford’s all-electric Mustang
► RWD, AWD Extended Range and GT tested
► Zero local emissions but still fast in a straight line. A Mustang for our time

Nothing highlights the difference between what we think the word Mustang means (V8 coupe) and what Ford thinks it means (freedom, pioneering spirit, a hint of rebellion) better than pony badges on an SUV electric. How can this be a Mustang, you ask? Because ethics trumps the powertrain, Ford’s marketing team is responding.

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It’s fair to say that the name of the Blue Oval’s first battery car was a divisive move (we’ve read your comments below), but it’s not the first time a manufacturer has used a plate. signage established to unite a family of models of different shapes. – Fiat has put 500 badges on everything, down to a seven-seater minivan, while BMW will sell you a decidedly small off-roader with Mini written on it.

So, at the very least, Ford can claim to have managed to grab your attention by putting this most iconic badge on its first fully electric car. From a marketing point of view, mission accomplished. But it leaves behind quite large horseshoes for the Mach-E to fill.

How can an electric SUV be a Mustang?

Ford calls the Mustang a sports car and in the US that’s fine, but here it still feels like a weird fit – it’s kind of a smoother Mercedes-AMG C63 coupe that prioritizes involvement over agility and precision. Not really a GT, but not strictly a rival to the 911 either. Almost a genre in its own right.

In reality, that does the Mach-E a favor – while there are all-wheel-drive models out there, you can always pick one with rear-wheel drive for that authentic Mustang experience at every junction, and because no one is seated. ‘expecting handling similar to Macan’s, he doesn’t need to defy the physics of lugging around a really big battery.

For now, the purest model seems to be the one that makes the most sense. Its combination of rear-wheel drive dynamics, a highly usable 0-100 km / h time, and a Tesla Model Y beat range make the Extended Range RWD model the closest to the Mustang, and the one for it. privilege.

Does it drive like a Mustang?

Ford has rolled out plenty of footage of the Mach-E being pummeled around Lommel by European engineers who then go on to explain how it was configured for our roads, but the reality is that the ride is pretty firm at low speeds.

Still, things are improving at a high speed, and as always, the trade-off comes in the form of surprisingly good body control. The Mach-E may weigh over two tons, but much of it is positioned low and between the axles so you don’t feel it in a corner as much as you might think. It turns well, resists understeer and stands admirably upright.

Ford Mustang Mach-E dynamic rear

However, it may be the throttle mapping, but there is a sense of volume when stepping away from low powered cars. Almost like the car needs half a second to pick up its pace – rather than that rubber band feeling we’re used to in electric cars.

The same can’t be said for the GT model, with its 634 lb-ft of torque. This will even leave white van drivers a distant blur in the rearview mirror.

The steering isn’t actively bad, but a slightly off-putting combination of lightness and fuzziness in the center that accelerates really quickly when you start to turn the wheel. It takes a bit of getting used to, but the precision you’re looking for is there, and that low roll rate means you don’t feel like it’s going to tip over to mid-bend in response to a sudden change of direction.

There is also a lot of Mustang-branded flamboyance coming out of the corner with the RWD models. Bring in the power gradually and the car turns perfectly around the driver. Crush the pedal and the reverse gears come out on demand. However, it doesn’t seem as keen as a gasoline-powered Mustang to be really on the side, and that is perhaps a nod to the more family-friendly nature of this model. You can turn traction control off, but that will still interfere, and since it’s now a button on the touchscreen, there doesn’t seem to be an option to hold it down for five seconds to turn it off properly. .

What difference does all-wheel drive make?

All-wheel drive on the Mach-E (like other EVs) comes from the fact that there is an electric motor at each end. Rear-wheel drive models have a rear engine, driving only the rear wheels; all-wheel-drive versions add an engine to the front, driving the front wheels.

The batteries have no impact on the passenger compartment or the trunk, but they modify the weight of the car. The Extended Range rear-wheel drive car is actually heavier than the Standard Range all-wheel-drive model – the bigger battery adds more pounds than the additional engine and drivetrain.

The combination that gives you the longest range is the extended-range battery with rear-wheel drive: 379 miles. The combination with the fastest 0-62mph time is the GT with all-wheel drive, which can crush the 0-62mph sprint in 3.7 seconds.

Although Ford insists on calling the Mach-E an SUV – when it’s actually a roomy five-door hatchback – that doesn’t mean it has off-road capability or tilt. All-wheel drive isn’t there to help you cope with sand or mud, but to give you added reassurance in all weather conditions and take more advantage of the massive power of the engines on the road.

The biggest difference between rear wheel drive and all wheel drive cars is when exiting a corner. The Mach-E AWDs we drove (Extended Range and GT) were happy to accelerate much earlier when you straighten up, and felt more stable and calm. Not that rear-wheel drive cars are unstable – they have a pleasantly organic and engaging feel, always letting you know what they’re doing. Think rear-wheel-drive BMW versus all-wheel-drive Audi. It’s a tidier experience as well as a faster – and more expensive one.

The greasy GT cars (pictured above, with body-colored wheel arches and a new front bumper design with a different grille) have two engines delivering a combined output of 480 hp and of course a all-wheel drive. The cornering is fine for such a big car, although the support is a bit slow. The traction of the bespoke 245/45 Pirellis is supreme. Even the biblical couple can’t take it off properly in a hairpin bend. The only thing that gets in the way of the Mustang’s continued cornering is weak tire sizzle.

Ford is so serious about GT performance that it has created a new driving mode, Untamed Plus. This does the usual things (sharpening, stiffening, jerking) but also disables the power boost feature, extending the battery for track use. Fuel economy like in F1, but in an electric SUV. What world we live in.

Is the touchscreen boring?

Well, it’s definitely very tall, and there’s no denying whoever designed it clearly spent quite a bit of time in a Tesla. Most, if not all, of the car’s main controls are now within its 15.5-inch range, with the exception of the lights, handbrake, hazards, and the now rather comically obsolete drive selector.

It’s not completely intuitive in its layout, there are still a few conflicting menus that will leave you looking for a bit of the setting you want at first, but it’s clear and easy to read with big buttons that are easy to find with your finger even when you are bounced.

Interior of the Ford Mustang Mach-e

In a welcome juxtaposition, the dial screen is the size and shape of a letterbox with just the information you need and nothing more. The wheel itself is pleasantly minimalist by today’s standards, just a group of buttons for cruise control on one side and media rockers on the other, although its diameter seems quite large.

Despite a few throttles and switches in the back, the cabin feels like that of a more expensive car – the tweed material on the dashboard and silver trim add to a fairly upscale feel, and the large panoramic glass roof. illuminates the entire cabin.

We’re still not convinced by the patio door knobs – they look like a futuristic 2000s look at best, and at worst a bit like poking C-3P0 in the eye. It’s also odd that Ford went to the trouble of smoothing out the door panel, only to then graft a weird plastic spoiler so you can swing yourself instead. However, they do look a bit like the aerodynamic door handles on a Ferrari 458, so that’s something to tell your friends.

Is it practical?

Well, the trunk is a few liters smaller than the gas-powered Mustang, but then again you get usable rear seats as a compromise, and since it’s a hatchback, the luggage capacity of the Mach-E is a little more accessible. There is also a front trunk with a practical 81 liters of space, as well as a cable management system to keep things neat and tidy. It also has a drain plug, like the Megabox from the Ford Puma, so you can use it for wet or muddy sports equipment.

Ford Mustang Mach-e boot

Inside there is a large open space under the screen with a large wireless charger and separate storage space below, as well as slim and shallow door pockets and a larger compartment under the armrest. .

Charging the car during the test takes about 10 hours from a home wall box, while a 150kW Ionity pump promises 73 miles in 10 minutes, or a 10-80% charge should take 45 minutes. There’s also a five-light ring on the charger release button to give you an idea of ​​the battery’s charge level at a glance, which is a nice feature.

Verdict

The Mach-E is clearly not an electric replacement for the gasoline car. That said, bringing a small amount of Mustangness into the driving experience makes it significantly more special than an all-electric Kuga, which is the other direction Ford could have taken.

Like it or not, Ford’s naming strategy and badge value will be pretty insignificant for the majority of UK buyers. Remember, we were only treated to a most recent generation RHD pony car, so the Mustang remains for the most part a movie icon rather than a real aspiration for ownership.

Buyers of this car are more likely to be drawn to the range and technology on offer. The fact that he’s a lot of fun to ride and has a horse badge are just cool extras.

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