Digital Pony – Ford Mustang Mach-E

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With EV sales steadily rising here in the UK, it seems like a perfect time to try out Ford’s attempt to topple the hugely popular Tesla Model 3 and also a good opportunity for me to see how the local infrastructure has improved since my last electric road test two years ago with the Jaguar i-Pace.

First impressions of the Mach-E are strong, I love how it looks. The bulging “frunk” and coupe-like swooping roofline give it a sleek, streamlined appearance and the signature front grille and taillights help emphasise the Mustang name. There are a few design details that did leave me scratching my head, though. There are no door handles, and instead, there are buttons on the pillars of each door that pop the door open via a solenoid once pressed, but the front doors have a little winglet-shaped handle which is not present at the rear. I understand these little features help with the overall aerodynamic shape of the car to increase range and what-not, but it just feels like these should be on all four doors, or none at all. The other feature is the floating black roof – a sort of spoiler/roof bulge that helps the car retain luggage space and rear headroom whilst giving the impression of a coupe – it looks fine on a black car, as you can’t see it, but on other colours, it just looks a bit odd.

Inside, there are very comfortable black leather seats with red stitching, a floating centre console with a rotary drive selector and a few other buttons, a small rectangular dash display behind the steering wheel and then an enormous tablet-style 15.5-inch touchscreen. There is certainly a feel of quality to a large proportion of the materials inside but there are still some plastics and features that I feel cheapens the interior slightly, although the overall build quality is far better than that of the Tesla Model 3.

*All images courtesy of Sprite Photography

Where I appreciate where we are going with in-car technology, I must say I still have my reservations with these overly-complicated infotainment systems. The 15.5-inch screen is bright and clear and simple to navigate when parked up and the huge screen makes features like satellite navigation easy to follow, it’s when you’re on the move I feel it goes downhill, quickly. To change things like the heated seats and steering wheel, you need to know exactly where to press to avoid pressing the wrong option, and given the ride of this car (which I’ll get to shortly), this can be a very challenging task. I also found that for the first day of testing this particular model, the wireless Apple CarPlay link just didn’t work and the screen kept freezing which was incredibly frustrating. Other niggly observations from the inside include the rotary drive selector which doesn’t feel high quality and the modes aren’t laid in an intuitive way. In the Kia e-Niro, the rotary dial sits at neutral in the middle, twist once eft for Reverse, and once right for Drive and then press the button in the centre for Park – in this Ford, you have Park at the far left of the dial, then Reverse, then Neutral and then finally Drive to the right with a button in the centre labelled “L”, which after a short while of searching I gave up on trying to find out its purpose.

Feature-wise, this car has the lot – it comes with the Technology Park that includes everything from a 360-degree parking camera to a very impressive Bang and Olufsen Premium Sound System which includes a huge soundbar that stretches across the dashboard and produces a wonderful crisp and loud sound. The car is also packed with safety features like Lane Keeping Aid and Intelligent Adaptive Cruise Control with Stop & Go and Lane Centering, which is about as close to “autonomous” driving as I would ever like to go, personally.

Once you’ve managed to get your phone paired and set the cabin temperature to how you like it, the driving experience is both exactly what you’d expect from a powerful electric vehicle and also not at all what you’d expect from this high-sitting crossover coupe/SUV blend. This Mustang Mach-E has a duel-motor setup powering all four wheels with 351PS of power that can launch the big Ford from 0-62mph in just 5.8 seconds. This is fuelled by a 99kWh battery that claims to return 335 miles of range.

*All images courtesy of Sprite Photography

When you put your foot down, even in its most economical mode, it feels quick. Like all these EVs, accelerating hard is as simple as pressing a button. The second your foot hits the pedal, you’re pressed back into the seat and there’s a futuristic “whiz” as the car shoots off. It’s just so addictive. But Acceleration isn’t everything, despite what other EV manufacturers want you to believe. Due to the floor being essentially a bed of batteries, the Mach-E is very heavy, so to combat body roll, the suspension on the Mach-E is stiff. In my opinion, it’s too stiff – here in England there are lots of fun and exciting traffic calming solutions dotted about on our roads and I found that things like speed humps and “sleeping policemen” resulted in an almost bucking motion from the car which after a while became quite unpleasant.

My other area for concern around the drive of the Mustang is the claimed battery range. The claimed range of this “extended range” model is 335 miles, but the best I got in the week I had it was 225 miles. That’s a deficit of 110 miles. Now, before people jump in and tell me that the range was significantly lower due to weather conditions, driving conditions and me probably mashing the peddle at every given opportunity, you’re all wrong. We have a brand new Kia e-Niro which has a claimed range of 282 miles that happened to have been delivered the day after the Mustang and driving that in exactly the same conditions, we got over 215 miles. It’s worth adding that the Kia is nearly £20,000 less. I appreciate the mileage will be heavily reduced during my time with the car because on several mornings the temperature was below zero and there was a fair bit of start/stop town driving, but I just don’t know how the claimed range could be so far off. Maybe I missed something and wasn’t in the right driver mode – but I’m a fairly tech-savvy competent driver, so in my opinion that says more about the over-complicated set-up of the car more than my driving ability.

It isn’t all doom and gloom for the Mustang Mach-E, so please don’t think I hate this car. I definitely don’t. In fact, I really like it. And after spending a week getting to know it I was genuinely saddened to give it back. I love how it looks, I love the power delivery, and as much as I hated it at the start, I warmed to the big touchscreen once I got used to it and it was full of great tech and options like wireless phone charging and a heated steering wheel. It also helped me increase confidence in electric vehicles in general. When I last tested an EV public chargers were few and far between where I live and charging from the home wall plug was a slow and expensive headache, but in the last 2 years, there has been a big step forward in my area with the local Tesco providing 5 charging points in collaboration with Pod Point and VW with one 50kW fast charger, two 22kW chargers and two 7kW units along with several other charging stations at the local leisure centre and some other shopping car parks. It’s still got a long way to go, and with more EVs being purchased in 2021 than the previous five years combined, more chargers will need to be installed quickly, but it certainly shows that we are getting there fast than many other countries. I still don’t think electrification is the absolute future for cars, but they certainly seem to be playing a big part in it.

This particular Mustang Mach-E was the extended range AWD model with Technology Park and the on the road price was £58,230.00 and for that money, there is a growing choice of cars from the Tesla Model Y to the Volvo XC40 Recharge and they all have their merits. Looks-wise, the Mach-E wins for me, but I feel the Volvo would win on build quality and interior whereas the Tesla currently has that all-important Supercharger network, although this is rumoured to be opening up to the wider market soon.

Thank you for Ford UK for providing the Mustang Mach-E – you can read more about the car and build your own here: https://www.ford.co.uk/cars/mustang-mach-e

Thank you for Sprite Photography for the images: https://www.spritephotography.co.uk/

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