Ford’s First Electric Brand is a Mustang
Really? With its name alone, the Ford Mustang Mach-E was bound to create controversy. Many experts in the automotive world judged the labelling of Ford’s first electric vehicle with the MUSTANG brand a recipe for disaster. And on first looks the connection to its Mustang Mach 1 seems to be contradictory, to say the least. The classic muscle car Mustang Mach 1 is presented by Ford as a ‘real beast’ in its marketing, symbolising ‘brutal power’ with ‘the roar of a Mustang as the ground starts to tremble and your legs start to shake’. That’s not my kind of understanding of the advancements of future and sustainable mobility, personally.
Tough one: how do you explain current Mach 1 drivers, that the Mustang brand now evolves into an electric SUV? I myself see the short-term gain of using the existing Mustang brand as a real threat for a long-term loss and would have preferred the US automotive company to start fresh with a new electric brand.
Positioning of the Mustang Mach-E
Taking these brand issues to the side, I received the electric crossover in an iced-blue colour as my companion for the next two weeks. My Mustang Mach-E is equipped with a rear wheel drive, extended battery range with a 98.7 kWh battery and 216 kW (294 horsepower). This version starts at € 56,000, extras in my test vehicle help raise this price to almost € 63,000. Gone are those days, when the Ford Mustang Mach-E was seen as a bargain compared to other e-cars – at the launch two years ago the Mach-E’s were all a good € 10,000 cheaper.
Let’s talk competition: As a strong electric SUV, the Mach-E joins the group of the VW ID.4, the BMW iX3, the Jaguar I-Pace or even the Tesla Model Y. For me, the Mach-E makes the most iconic impression among these competitors – at least from the outside. The vehicle is based on Ford's own 'Edison' platform and is an SUV with a correspondingly high body. Though not being a muscle car, you’ll still be able to find similarities between the first all-electric Ford and the original Mustang. The radiator grille looks familiar, the hood shows the same strong contours as the combustion engine original, and the rear is emblazoned with the likewise very familiar tail lights. Fun fact: there is not a single mention of Ford in this vehicle, it’s all about Mustang.
The Vehicle - Surprises Included
Each of the electric Mustangs seat five passengers, have a hatchback boot and host a frunk with 100 litres of space - unless you opt for a plastic inlay that sorts the cables and your valuables, but limits space to approximately 60 litres. The biggest surprise however offers the cabin. Two screens immediately catch your attention, with a 15.5 inch touchscreen in the middle reminding me of Tesla’s display. Only in the Mach-E is it positioned in portrait, offering plenty of infotainment access. The screen combines vehicle functions and controls but certainly demands a learning curve as the navigation is often not intuitive. Some functions are unfortunately not easily findable as they are hidden behind other functions, but hey - Ford made a real effort to visualise the 360-degree camera system or add Apple CarPlay and Android Auto displayed in larger form than its own map.
In front of the driver, you’ll find a second screen with essential information such as navigation directions, speed or the state of the battery. This is telling me that Ford understood the desire of many new EV drivers. In order to make that change to an electric vehicle with lots of digital tools to play with, it is still nice to have a screen with the most important driving information in your direct view, clearly blending the past and the future. The more traditional switchgear, plenty of soft touch surfaces and the use of fabric, covering some speaker areas of the six speaker Bang & Olufsen audio system are all nice add-ons to have.
The front-seats are comfortable and provide heating but to my surprise are not electric, hence no driver position can be stored - a must in my eyes in today’s digitised automotive world. Another weakness is the quality of materials used, they remind me more of a Tesla than an Audi or BMW. If I’d pay € 60,000 or more, I would expect better from Ford.
Driving and Charging Experience
Taking off on a cold winter morning poses a real challenge to any electric vehicle. That said, the preheating functionality in my Mach-E worked fine to heat up the batteries and the inside of the car before we were taking off. Three versions of such preheating can be chosen in the Mach-E from low, middle to hot (ok that’s a bit of an exaggeration) - such efforts leading to happy passengers and a longer reach of the car.
Fast Charging in the Ford Mach-E
We were taking off from our home south of Munich driving to the Austrian capital Vienna, a distance of about 450 kilometres one-way. The display in the Ford showed us all available charging stations, thus recommending two stops on the way. We chose our first stop at the scenic lake ‘Mondsee’ just behind the city of Salzburg, a mere 140 km away from our starting point. Here we charged at one of the six IONITY fast chargers and were a little disappointed, as the charging speed at 50% SOC stayed at 70 kW at this fast charger that was supposed to offer 150 kW. We experienced the same lack of charging power at various SOCs on our trip, here we are used to charging at much higher speed with a Tesla, Hyundai IONIQ or a KIA.
When on the freeway, the Mach-E proved a reliable and quite economical electric car considering its 2.2 tonnes and less favourable contours being a SUV. On our roundtrip of 952 km to and from Vienna, we kept consumption at 22 kWh per 100 km, of which 89% were needed for driving the car, 9% for heating and 2% for other stuff. That is a really good result as we were carrying more than 300 MOTION Magazines on our way to Vienna and a lot of Austrian wine on our way back. Heavy loads, cold weather and a freeway average of around 120 km/h -> the Ford Mach-E handled all of this really well.
Driving Modes and Handling in the City
Twisting the gear knob, picking up speed and experiencing a rather soft ride. The driving modes Active, Eco and Untamed offer three very different choices adjusting the brakes, throttle, steering and the ambient lighting in the car. The Mach-E accelerated in 5.1 seconds from 0 to 100 km/h (or 60 mph), its top speed is limited at 180 which we never tried out on this long distance trip, not even on the German Autobahn. Traffic, weather conditions and range awareness kept us from trying out the top speed this winter.
At one point, the Ford engineers got really excited as they included the option of a ‘real’ Mustang sound with the help of a sound generator. Despite sitting in an electric vehicle, the Mach-E roars (a little) like its ICE family member, nice to have and a gadget for those that miss the roar and made the switch to an electric car.
The drive on the various Freeways was easy, thanks to our good seating position we were always able to manage the rather busy traffic. We switched to one-pedal drive when we reached the outskirts of Vienna in order to assist with recuperation. The only downside was the frequent message from the dashboard, that the front camera was not working properly and needed a clean. That said, the Mach-E proved to be a little stiff in city-driving, the handling was not as easy as navigating an ID.4 or a Skoda Enyaq through traffic. On the other hand, for everyday driving the Mach-E is a well-balanced EV which offers enough space for the family and its luggage, even when on your way to the ski slopes in winter.
My main suggestion is to forget the name when you consider a Mustang Mach-E as your next vehicle. The Mach-E is not a Mustang and to think of the Mach 1 is definitely misleading. Ford arrived on the stage of electric vehicles quite late, but the engineers have done their homework. The first fully electric Ford of the 21st century is an electric SUV with lots of space for family, friends and luggage. The car suggests a reach of approx. 300 km in cold winter conditions and only fell short a few kilometres on our test drive. If you do not insist on super-fast charging on long distance trips and prefer a vehicle that supports you on your way into the electric world, then the Ford Mustang Mach-E could be the right vehicle for you.
Editor's Note: The Ford Team provided MOTION with the Mustang Mach-E for a two week trial. Ford partially paid for charging - many thanks.
Photos courtesy of Michael Brecht.