Mess with an icon at your peril.
Taking a legendary car and recreating it for the changing needs, fashions, technology and environmental demands of the 21st century is no mean challenge, not least when you’re completely altering the one feature it was most famed for.
And this is exactly what Ford bosses have done with the new Mustang, called the Mach-E. They’ve taken the archetypal American muscle car name and used it for the brand’s first purpose-build electric SUV.
It means the Mach-E can’t disappoint on the road, else face the wrath of fanatics of the blue-oval badge. We’ve spent a week with the silent galloping horse to see if it’s worthy of the fabled marque.
Not the Mustang you used to know: Does the Mustang Mach-E do the fabled name justice, even with a silent electric powertrain?
While this is by no means an easy feat, other car manufacturers have successfully navigated relaunches of its big-name cars.
BMW did it successfully with the reborn Mini and Italy’s Fiat has managed it with the perky 500. Both also now have pure electric versions.
But can Ford pull it off with their all-American raw-meat muscle-car – the Mustang – whose legendary status was enshrined by actor Steve McQueen, himself the epitome of effortless cool, driving the original petrol thoroughbred through the streets of San Francisco in the cult 1968 movie Bullitt? It even inspired a song: Mustang Sally.
We’ve been driving Ford’s new all-electric battery-powered Mustang Mach-E on UK roads and ahead of first deliveries to find out if it does the renowned name justice.
The Mustang’s legendary status was enshrined by actor Steve McQueen, himself the epitome of effortless cool, driving the original petrol thoroughbred through the streets of San Francisco in the cult 1968 movie Bullitt
The shot of Steve McQueen burning rubber is no only synonymous with the Ford Mustang but remains an iconic image today
Designed in Motown at Ford’s Dearborn headquarters in Detroit, the new all-electric Mustang Mach-E is built in Mexico
The Mustang Mach-E is radical in many ways. It’s been reborn as a pure electric, battery-powered, zero emissions, sports utility crossover vehicle.
Designed in Motown – at Ford’s Dearborn headquarters in Detroit – the new all-electric Mustang Mach-E is built in Mexico and has been tuned for European roads, including the UK.
Developed specifically for markets like ours means it is fun, quirky, very well thought out with some clever ‘wow’ factors, and – in its own right- drives exceptionally well.
But out go the V6 and rumbling V8 petrol engines of this ‘pony car’ which has a galloping stallion as its mascot.
In their place are electric motors with optional synthesized sounds – which may divide opinion but I quite liked them – that give a nod to the deep rumble of old-school gasoline-fuelled powerplants and their politically incorrect but intoxicating exhaust fumes.
And let’s be clear, this is mighty establishment car-maker Ford – with its nose pushed well out of joint – hitting back hard at the new electric upstart kid on the block, Tesla.
Watch out Tesla! The Mustang Mach-E firmly has the US electric car maker in its sights, with the Model X SUV the obvious target to aim to beat
Range anxiety should not be a problem. Ford promises 335 miles on my Extended Range all-wheel drive car – enough to get you from London to Newcastle with a few miles still to spare
What hits you first when you nestle down inside the smart and comfortable cabin is the dominating 15.5-inch central upright touch screen – like a large computer tablet
The car I drove is the five-door Ford Mustang Mach-E all-wheel drive hatchback with extended range which costs £57,030 – a bit less than the early fully-stocked limited First Edition model costing £58,080, which is now sold out.
The Mustang Mach-E range itself starts from £40,350 for the ‘basic’ entry level rear-wheel drive version with less powerful Standard Range output.
Will it fit in my garage?
Car driven: Ford Mustang Mach-E AWD Extended Range
Price as driven: £57,030* Mustang E-Mach range: priced from £40,350*
Prices start from: £40,350 (incl £3k car grant)
Style: Sporty SUV crossover Length: 4,713mm Width: 1,881mm Height: 1,624mm
CO2 emissions: Zero
Power: 351 horse-power Dual Motor all-wheel drive automatic (from two electric motors)
Electric battery power: 98.7kWh lithium ion batteries (of which 88kWh useable)
Range: 335 miles (compared to 379 miles for rear-wheel drive version and 273 miles for Standard Range).
0-to-62mph: 5.8 seconds
Top speed: 111mph
Max DC charger: 150kW
Charging times: Up to 80 per cent charge: 45 minutes Mileage from 10 minute charge: 66 miles
Rear boot space: 402 litres With rear sears folded: 1,420 litres Front trunk or ‘frunk’: 81 litres
Towing capacity: 750kg
Large upright 15.5-inch colour touchscreen Panoramic roof Next generation Ford SYNC system with connected sat-nav and voice control Advanced Park Assist Intelligent Adaptive Cruise Control B&O 10 speaker sound system
Service interval: two years, 18,000 miles Warranty three years/60,000
Warranty on high-voltage parts: 8 years/100,000 miles
Residual value: 52.7% across the range for 36 month/30,000 miles (CAP)
In the pipeline later 2021: Ford Mustang I-Mach GT with 0-62mph in 3.7 seconds,
*NOTE: Government’s £3,000 plug in car grant applies only on models costing less than £50,000
At launch there are five different combinations of power and drive so you have to do your homework and be aware that the Government’s £3,000 plug-in grant for electric cars applies only to those costing under £50,000.
It’s always a good sign when people passing by stop to stare. And they did. It’s got great kerb appeal, a pumped bulging bonnet and rear lights clusters that echo the original.
The first delight was approaching the car to notice that there’s no conventional door handle.
To pop open the door you need to press a small illuminated circular button in the pillar. You can then grab a small lipped grab-handle beneath the window.
You’re also likely to momentarily be confused by a series of illuminated touch-sensitive numbers on the door pillar. But this allows you to set a security code, as you would for your bank account. Clever.
What hits you first when you nestle down inside the smart and comfortable cabin is the dominating 15.5-inch central upright touch screen – like a large computer tablet. But there are plenty of buttons for traditionalists – our personal favorites being the large central circular volume control which you can reach over to twiddle rather than scrabble around menus and touch screens. Simple pleasures.
Firing up the 351 horse-power electric Mustang, we galloped off running on 19-inch wheels (18-inch on cheaper models).
With both hands on the steering wheel, it has a taut, muscular feel.
There are three playfully named driving modes to choose from: economical and gentle Whisper, the default Active setting which offers a fine balanced blend of sportiness and comfort, and the sportiest Untamed, which is clearly a riposte to Tesla’s Ludicrous mode.
Each progressively tightens the sinews by adjusting the throttle control responses, as well as the ambient interior lighting.
But to get the full fizz you need to hit Untamed and yell ‘yee-hah’. Though the ride is more refined than a bucking bronco it’s enough to make you want to play some ZZ Top via your smartphone connection.
Steering and handling are very precise and responses are fast, with acceleration from rest to 62mph in 5.8 seconds that will push you back into your supportive sports seat, up to a top speed where allowed of 111mph. A sportier GT version planned for later in the year will do it in just 3.7 seconds.
This electric Mustang is certainly no slouch in the saddle. It really will shift. But you can also set it for one-pedal driving where the car will brake when you take your foot off the accelerator – allowing you to finesse your driving without ever hitting the brake pedal. I’m a great fan.
The dual motor all-wheel drive comes from two electric motors powered by 98.7kWh lithium ion batteries (of which 88kWh useable).
Range anxiety should not be a problem. Ford promises 335 miles on my Extended Range all-wheel drive car – enough to get you from London to Newcastle with a few miles still to spare.
To pop open the door you need to press a small illuminated circular button in the pillar. You can then grab a small lipped grab-handle beneath the window
An added bonus from having no conventional engine is the 81-litre front trunk – or ‘frunk’ – that is also drainable, just in case you want to keep you wetsuit or rain-drenched coats separate from the rest of your clobber in the back
A 150kW DC charger will provide up to 80 per cent charge in 45 minutes and a quick 10 minute boost will give you an extra 66 miles (just enough to give you the total 400 miles needed to take you on to Edinburgh).
That compares to the 379-miles range for the cheaper but less powerful rear-wheel drive version and 273 miles for Standard Range.
In terms of practicality, there’s plenty of room in the back for three and the generous rear boot space of 402 litres extends to a vast 1,420 litres with the rear seats down.
An added bonus from having no conventional engine is the 81-litre front trunk – or ‘frunk’ – that is also drainable, just in case you want to keep you wetsuit or rain-drenched coats separate from the rest of your clobber in the back.
And if you have a trailer, there’s a towing capacity of 750kg
Other features include the next generation Ford SYNC infotainment system with connected sat-nav and voice control, a panoramic glass roof, advanced park assist, intelligent adaptive cruise control, and a B&O 10 speaker sound system,
At launch there are five different combinations of power and drive so you have to do your homework and be aware that the Government’s £3,000 plug-in grant for electric cars applies only to those costing under £50,000
Cars & Motoring verdict
It’s best to look at this new generation Mustang as a completely new car in its own right – designed to take on Elon Musk’s Tesla, gunning for the likes of the Tesla Model 3 and Tesla Model Y SUV.
It comes with a three years/60,000 mile warranty, with the guarantee on high-voltage parts extended to eight years/100,000 miles. Servicing interval is two years or 18,000 miles.
Experts at car-market valuers CAP say the Mustang Mach-E should hold its worth with a residual value of 52.7 per cent across the range for 36 months/30,000 miles.
The Mustang name itself derives from wild free-roaming horses descended from early Spanish conquistadors and has come to symbolize the pioneering spirit of the American west. The Mach refers to the measure of the speed of sound and the E to its electric power.
The Mustang Mach-E drives well, looks great and is plenty practical enough by any family model’s standards. But you need to decide if it’s worthy of the iconic muscle car name
And here’s something to consider.
The company founded by Henry Ford in 1903 and which dominated the 20th century by bringing Model-T motor cars to the masses with production line manufacturing, is currently trading at under $10 per share and is valued at £38billion.
Whizzy newcomer Tesla, founded by maverick entrepreneur Elon Musk a century later in 2003 and which has shaken up 21st century motor manufacturing with its electric cars such as the Model 3, is now valued at more than $800billion – more than 20 times that of Ford.
The world is changing. And fast.
We would have liked longer with the new Mustang Mach-E to get really immersed in its features, but understandable Covid-restrictions limited its availability.
But as the new 21st century electric Mustang sallies forth into showrooms, would we drive one again? Wild horses couldn’t drag us away.
CARS & MOTORING: ON TEST