The word “Mustang” is quite a special one among motoring enthusiasts. It conjures up images of powerful muscle cars, svelte coupes, thundering exhausts, and burbling V8 engines.
The latest Ford Mustang, however, is something rather different. In fact, strictly speaking, it isn’t really a Ford, either.
Mustang has become Ford’s new sub-brand. Much the same as Nissan has Infinti, Citroen has DS and Seat now has Cupra, Mustang will now serve as a sister brand for the Dagenham giant.
But while Infiniti, DS and Cupra denote a luxury, premium side-marque, the Mustang moniker will be reserved for Ford’s new breed of premium, zero-emission electric cars. And it starts with this, the Mach-E
So let’s quickly dispense of the ugly mumblings we’re hearing from purists. Yes, it’s a sort-of-SUV, sort-of-coupe, sort-of-estate car rather than a 2+2 coupe. And, yes, it’s dispensed of all its fossil-fuel underpinnings.
Of course it’s not a Mustang in the traditional sense, but the world has moved on. The old Ford Mustang was becoming a dinosaur and this newcomer is absolutely cutting edge.
As with any electric car review, it seems right to talk about the range first. And, funnily enough, it’s one of the big headlines with the Mach-E. Ford claims, and I’m promised this is true, their new car is good for 379 miles. That, you won’t need me to tell you, would make it one of the longest-haul electric cars on the market right now. But more on that later.
The range currently includes a single-motor, rear-wheel drive version, or a twin-motor all-wheel drive version, and there are two battery strengths to pick from too.
The single-motor version, which is the cheapest, lightest and most efficient, can be had for a shade over £40,000 and you’ll have a healthy 266bhp to play with. The twin-motor version can offer up to 346bhp but, given the extra weight, the added grunt is not immediately noticeable. The single-motor will be the bigger seller, and it’s arguably the better choice.
It hopefully won’t be long before a Mach-E GT comes along with 480bhp and, while that won’t give Elon Musk any nightmares, it should make for a very brisk car. The 266bhp version I drove had plenty of shove.
And while the ride and handling aren’t especially sharp, it rides quite softly, and keeps its size and weight in check neatly, there’s some obvious nods to the Mustang brand’s muscle-car heritage.
Take the rear-lights for example. There’s an unmistakable hint if ever there was one. There’s also plenty of “pony” cues dotted about and, the longer you look, the more subtle reminders you find.
The shape of the body, especially with the larger 19″ wheels, is overtly sporty. It has a false roof-line that gives it a coupe-like stance and it has a muscular, almost mean presence to it.
Interior space is very generous. The boot is an excellent size, with a bit of further storage space beneath the front bonnet. This cavity, incidentally, is plastic-lined and even has a drain hole – so it’s useful for storing wet stuff like wellies, or a raincoat.
The cabin is a nice place to sit. In general, the materials feel top-notch and the driving position is easy to adapt to.
The dashboard is dominated by an inexcusably large, portrait-format central display which controls literally everything, and there’s an inexcusably small driver display just behind the steering wheel which displays just the bare essentials.
My main gripe with the interior is that huge display sits completely flat against the dashboard. It feels like it should be angled, even slightly, towards the driver. By sitting flat, facing directly outward, it has a tendency to pick up a bit of glare.
There is, however, plenty of storage cubbies and a flat floor makes access easy for passengers in the roomy back seats.
Now, let’s get back to range. While 379 miles is indeed a bold claim, and as much as the nice people at TC Harrison Ford insist it is possible to achieve, I haven’t spent long enough in a Mach-E to verify its real-world range.
I’ve heard talk of people getting comfortably over 300 miles though and that, in all honestly, is perfectly acceptable at this price point.
In fact, I walked away from the Mach-E feeling suitably won-over. There’s some delightful quality touches and its fine road manners belie its sheer size.
Ford really needed to get its latest Mustang right. There are purists to silence, loyal fans to satisfy, and a growing band of electric car devotees to impress.
Especially once the GT version arrives, and gives us all a proper justification of the use of the Mustang moniker, this excellent first stab at a complicated car sets Ford firmly on course for success.
If you’ve been eyeing up a Tesla Model 3 recently, pause for a moment, pop to TC Harrison, try out the Mustang instead. I promise you’ll be impressed.