Does the new electrical Mustang Mach-E measure up?
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Google “the best car chases in movie history” and you’ll invariably find the 10-minute marathon from 1968’s Bullitt at or towards the top of the list.
The human star was Steve McQueen, but the four-wheeled one was most definitely the Highland Green Ford Mustang Fastback (sold a year ago for $3.7m) that was mercilessly thrashed up, down and around the streets of San Francisco by stunt driver Bud Ekins to the mellifluous soundtrack of its 6.3-litre V8 engine.
Since the Mustang was launched in 1964, the model has been synonymous with the growling, wheel-spinning, gas-guzzling muscle car, and both classic and modern versions enjoy legions of followers around the world.
So imagine the disappointment among the younger members of this household when the promise of a test Mustang resulted in the silent arrival of the SUV you see here – the Mustang Mach-E, Ford’s first real foray into the world of all-electric motoring.
The Mustang nameplate has been chosen to sex up the image of the electric car, not because it has much to do with Ford’s famous two-door other than (according to the leaflet) “signature elements such as its long, powerful hood, rear haunch design, aggressive headlights and trademark tri-bar tail lamps…” So if you’re after a set of wheels that will enhance your image, this probably isn’t for you. If, however, you’re looking for an electric car that’s likely to be among the most practical in terms of buying, using and living with, the Mach-E could be it.
The entry-level, single-motor, two-wheel-drive model costs £40,350 and offers a range of 248 miles, with prices rising to £58,080 for the one with a motor front and back, four-wheel-drive and a claimed range of 379 miles. All are electronically limited to 111mph and, as with most electric cars, their instantly available power makes them decidedly quick off the mark, the latter version being capable of hitting 60mph from a standstill in around five seconds.
The interior is best described as “efficient” rather than interesting or luxurious, and is dominated by a vast, 15.5-inch, vertically positioned centre stack touchscreen through which the car’s settings and systems can be controlled with a few taps and swipes – including the selection of one of three driving modes: Whisper, Active or the provocative Untamed. Toggling between the three alters the feel and effect of the throttle, brakes and steering and enhances the synthesised propulsion sound, which can be switched on or off and is described by Ford as being inspired by “80s sci-fi cinema” rather than the full-blooded roar of the V8 petrol engines found in “real” Mustangs.
Another 10in screen serves as a more conventional dashboard, while driving the car is a simple matter of getting in, pressing the brake pedal, pushing the starter button and selecting D for “drive” on the rotary controller between the seats. After which, in typical electric car style, absolutely nothing interesting happens until you press the accelerator.
A one-pedal driving option – with the accelerator acting as a brake when you lift off the power – helps to charge the batteries and, with practice, can virtually eliminate the need to use the conventional brake pedal.
Inevitably, tech abounds in the Mach-E. The FordPass App, for example, enables owners to use their smartphones instead of the key fob to unlock and activate the car, while an integrated illuminated gauge where the cable plugs in gives an instant reading of the battery status. The fact that the same information is also shown on the paired smartphone, the dashboard screen and the centre stack points to Ford’s understanding of every electric car driver’s greatest fear – running out of juice.
Plugging in the Mach-E at home to a compatible wall box will result in a full charge after around 12 hours, although 57 miles worth of range can be added in just 10 minutes through the IONITY joint venture public charging network, of which Ford was a founder member.
So, with its decent range, practical capabilities and realistic entry point, the Mustang Mach-E may well be the car that helps to take electric motoring fully mainstream. Just don’t expect driving one to make you anything like the king of cool.
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