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Sometime ubiquitous ‘Ford’ seeks solace in electric Mustang derivatives

IAIN ROBERTSON

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Ford-Mustang-Mach-E

Left wondering why Ford decided not to apply the ‘Blue Oval’ or those important, four family letters to its Mustang is a mystery that Iain Robertson finds all but incomprehensible, which is unfortunate, as the Mach-e GT is certainly one of its better efforts.

Listen to senior league marketing exponents and you will believe that branding is everything. Whomsoever recommended to Ford’s main board that dropping the family name from its repurposed Mustang would be a great idea is almost as mad as not calling a Dino 246GT a Ferrari. Yet, Ford has done it with Mustang, turning a V8 (and smaller optional engines) powered coupe into an electric semi-SUV possessing a smattering of original Mustang styling cues.

In truth, the smattering amounts to stylised tail-lamps and a front ‘grille’ that looks more like a Jensen C-V8 than open-mouthed Mustang. As far as any other design elements are concerned, the car is a corporate hotch-potch of coupe-like SUV detailing that has car spotters seeking the very badges missing from its make-up. In fact, apart from some dimensional aspects, the Mach-e GT can be mistaken for either Kuga, or Puma models that do carry the ‘Blue Oval’ with some pride.

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Ford-Mustang-Mach-E

If main brand anonymity is to be subsumed by sub-brand familiarity, then Ford might also be displaying the largest pair of corporate ‘cojones’ that the automotive scene has witnessed in several decades. What the hell! You can always pop along to your local Ford boutique and purchase a set of Ford badges to stop the neighbours asking perpetually what it is. The one thing it isn’t is a Mustang.

As the exterior gives away virtually no clues, you might hope that the interior could provide an answer…except that it is not forthcoming. A Tesla-style portrait format touchscreen sits prominently in the centre of the dashboard, with a smaller, essential information panel providing a digital readout ahead of the driver. Typical of the current technology, it is mostly reconfigurable to suit individual driver’s needs but suffers from similar inaccessibility, when trying to slide, squeeze and tip screen settings, when on-the-move. It is solid enough but lacking in top level European quality, let alone character, leaning towards US-grade plasticity, even with the hide-bound seats and door cards. The cabin is a practical space, with plenty of room for occupants, even though the falling roofline does apply noggin-knocking restrictions, if care is not taken getting into or out of the back seats.

Mind you, the split-level boot is spacious enough at 420-litres, which can be expanded to around 1,400-litres, with the rear seats folded flat. It would not be a bad idea to attempt to stash the electric cables in the front boot, rather than leaving them on the boot floor, were the ‘froot’ (or ‘frunk’ as Ford suggests) slightly more accommodating. Talking of which, plug into a 150W public fast-charger and 57mls of range can be at your disposal in just 10 minutes. Left for a typical 38-40 minutes and the available charge can be hiked from flat to 80%, enough time for brunch, maybe. On the other hand, using the domestic wallbox will demand around 12 hours for a full recharge, all of which is standard fayre these days.

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Ford-Mustang-Mach-E

Ford suggests that its range extended, 88kWh battery pack is good for over 320mls but you would need to drive like a parsimonious vegetarian and avoid the excitement of full-bore acceleration runs to attain much more than 260mls in reality, which is said to be more than adequate, which therefore invalidates any mileage anxiety (said a spokesperson for Ford). Yeah! Believe that and you will believe the faux claims produced by every EV carmaker desperate to grab your ackers. Talking of which, at £67,225, despite Mach-e GT’s speed potential and surprising agility for a two-tonne-plus hatchback, is not exactly cost-effective.

While Tesla offers a ‘Ludicrous’ setting in its multi-mode drive programs, Ford’s, sorry, Mustang’s more mundane descript is a cowboy-wrestling ‘Untamed’. In that mode, the Mach-e GT will scorch from 0-60mph in a similarly, manic smile-inducing 3.4s. It is enough to force the driver back into the seat and even cause grip to be released on the steering wheel. A pair of electric motors drives both front and rear axles, with a combined power output of around 480bhp and a heavyweight slug of 634lbs ft of torque accompanying it, a hefty slice greater than a V8 Mustang can muster. Incidentally, the other pair of drive modes are Active and Whisper, while the accompanying ‘engine noise’ that can be switched off hints at a V6 ICE.

Although the amount of feedback provided to the driver is better thankfully than for the standard issue models, the amount of steering feel still remains remote, while the beefed-up springs and reactive dampers, bearing in mind that this top version runs on 20.0-inch diameter alloy wheels with fairly sticky low-profile tyres, provide a fairly compliant but firm ride quality. If this is a final but tenuous link to the original Mustang perhaps it ought to be called a bonus. To be fair to the Mach-e GT, it performs a monumental task in disguising the substantial bulk of its underpinnings, by delivering moderate dynamic balance across most driver demands, almost to the point of being gamey fun.

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Ford-Mustang-Mach-E

Needless to say, the Mustang features a full complement of ADAS and connectivity options but you are advised to park up while adjusting the various settings. Ford is taking orders for its non-Ford product at present, with deliveries anticipated sometime this autumn, if you are tempted. However, that hefty price tag means that most monthly lease rates are going to hover around the £800-£900 mark, pretty much the same as for a Tesla Model3. Naturally, Ford is emphasising the supercar performance of its Mach-e GT in the hopes that you might ignore the car’s less welcome attributes.

Conclusion:       Ignore the Mustang inferences and the Mach-e GT is a genuine pleasure to drive, even though it is also a largely character-free zone. Ford will evade criticism of the car’s lack of branding but which direction it will take with its future EVs remains to be confirmed.

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Ford-Mustang-Mach-E