BY BRIAN BYRNE
THERE’S something missing when you drive off a Ford Mustang Mach-E. The sound. The deep throaty rumble of the 5.0 V8 or the baritone crackle of the 2.3 four. Either of which are part of what makes the modern edition of the original Mustang iconic. The Mustang Mach-E gives us an almost eerie silence.
Of course, the Mustang Mach-E is not a replacement for what may be the most aspired-to sports car in the world. For a start, it’s all-electric. Secondly, while its designers cleverly echoed the coupe elements of the traditional car, it will easily carry three adults in the back ... compared to a cramped single in the other.
There is, and there will continue to be, debate amongst Mustang passionistas as to whether Ford was right to adapt the pony-car’s name to an extended Mustang family. Especially to an electric car, a kind of powertrain that just can’t generate the kind of emotion that pumping pistons and throbbing exhaust notes can. Time will tell, and time has a habit of leaving behind the old and progressing the new. Meantime, it’s an interesting fact that at the moment, most of the Mustang Mach-E cars produced for the company, in Mexico, are being shipped to Europe. In a way not surprising, because Europe is the world leader adapting market for electric vehicles. And while Ford is a relative latecomer to the electric party, it knows where it will get butter on its bread.
So my first drive in a Mach-E was always going to deliver mixed emotions. As I can’t take one for a full review period until next year, they were also going to be first impressions.
Those first impressions are largely positive. The style first. So-called coupe-SUVs are a hard design to make good-looking. Sleek coupe and high-ride don’t aesthetically bond well. But the Mustang Mach-E’s result is surprisingly better than most. Partly a clever trick of colouring — a black spoiler-like extension to the rear roofline is actually a space for extra headroom in the rear, yet the contrasting red colour of my drive car emphasised the coupe look.
There are Mustang cues. The badge is a stylised variant of the original galloping pony, setting the Mach-E as something different in the herd. The bonnet has similar ridge pressings to the long-hooded sports car. Inside, the only similarity is the mustang symbol on the steering wheel boss ... and the generic switchgear common to all Ford products. The rest is completely individual to the Mach-E. It’s very minimalist, a small rectangular space for primary information in front of the driver, and a truly massive portrait format centre-dash screen for managing everything else.
It seemed as if Ford was trying to out-do Tesla in the screen department and it’s a little too big to take everything in at a glance. I guess, though, I’d get used to it.
There’s no shift-stick, of course, all EVs being automatic in use, so the selector is that rotary one we’ve had in all recent Ford automatics.
The interior space for what is built on an extensively reworked Kuga platform is impressive and comfortable. A good driving position too, thanks to the high ride. The bonnet view out front does bring a sense of driving the original.
The Mustang Mach-E does have one thing in common with the petrol-powered car — performance. Even the entry-level version can get to 100km/h in just over six seconds. A GT version brings that down to 3.7s. The car is available in rear-wheel or all-wheel drive formats. There are three drive modes — Whisper, Active and Untamed, which are self-explanatory. I really didn’t have the chance to explore them all, but will do so in due course. I drove on motorway, hills, and winding narrow roads, and the car swallowed up kilometres on all with equanimity.
Mustang Mach-E is not targeting the Kia Niros or the Nissan Leafs, its place and pricing are up with the bigger boys in the premium EV space. But on first drive, it seems to be very comfortable in there. The battle lines are extending. More follows in 2022.