Should we really still be mad at Ford for having the audacity to use the great Mustang name for an electric crossover? After all, the moniker has been used for so many duffers over the years, and despite being rather different from the average ‘Stang, the Mustang Mach E might just be a decent car.
To find out whether or not that’s the case, we borrowed an all-wheel drive Extended Range version. It doesn’t come with any distracting Shelby-bothering acceleration figure to get caught up on as seen on the GT model (coming to the UK later this year). You get a modest (considering the 2.2-tonne weight figure) 355bhp and 428lb ft of torque to play with, making for a 0-62mph time of 5.8 seconds.
Mid-tier hot hatch stuff, in other words. Floor it, and the Mach E does that typical mid-range EV thing of feeling shockingly fast for the briefest of moments as the instant torque delivery provides a swift kick up the arse, before the sensation of acceleration is sapped by the linear delivery of the motors.
Reach a corner, and there’s that weirdly, slightly unpleasantly springy feeling to the steering which also afflicts the Focus ST. Oh, and it gets worse in the sportier ‘Untamed’ mode. Turning it on makes no difference to the suspension since the only Mach E to get adaptive dampers will be the GT.
The passive shocks are on the firm side, but the ride’s nicely composed and never crashy. The payoff for the stiffness is a respectable lack of excessive body roll. It can’t hide its porky weight figure, with the Mach E sometimes suffering understeer in tighter corners, but that’s easily rectified by giving it a boot-full. With the traction control disengaged, the EV shows an amusing keenness to get out of shape at the rear.
Driven more gently it’s supposedly possible to eke out a range of 335 miles according to estimates based on the WLTP cycle, but realistically, you’re not going to get anywhere near that. Based on our week with the car, we’d expect most drivers to get around 2.8 miles per kWh in mixed conditions, giving a range of 245 miles. That kind of energy consumption isn’t terrible, but it’s not brilliant either - the Kia e-Niro our colleagues at Auto Express were running a year or so ago could do over five miles per kWh without much effort. Awkward.
You’re told where the power’s gone, with the percentage split between driving, onboard comfort and environmental factors clearly displayed on the giant touchscreen. Ah yes, the 15.5-inch central infotainment display, here almost certainly due to some homework copying of Tesla’s similar setup. Perhaps inevitably, I initially hated it.
Annoyances include the drive mode selector not disappearing once you’ve made your choice, prompting an additional distracting prod or two, and the climate controls. For the driver’s side, they’re just to the left of your knee and not all that big. That’s fine for tactile controls you can operate without looking at, but not so good when they’re on a screen that requires you to take your eyes off the road to gaze at. The display is also mega bright, and the brightness control is buried in a sub-menu.
After a little while, though, I warmed to it. It looks crisp, is really responsive, and aside from the small, ill-placed climate controls, it’s well laid out. The shortcut ‘tiles’ that contain things like trip data and track listings are a nice touch too, and I’m also a fan of the more minimalist ultra-wide screen used for the instrument cluster.
The cabin is solidly built and airy, making full use of the skateboard-style architecture the Mach E is built on. It’s also quiet and refined, with the lack of engine noise failing to amplify any nasty NVH issues. It’s an expensive car at £57,000 (the range starts at £41,330), but you wouldn’t feel short-changed.
And as for what the car’s called, I’m now fine with it. It’s a far better use for the name than something like the second-generation Mustang Mach II, which initially had a 105bhp 2.8-litre V6. Even in 1974 that was pathetic. Consider that next time you want to have an online bitching session.
In any case, employing it here seems like a good move. Without taking on the Mustang name and some of the styling, it might have ended up being an anonymous crossover blob with a blue oval on the bonnet. The ‘Stang design features work on it reasonably well too, despite the Mach E looking a little awkward from some angles.
It doesn’t change the EV game to any great degree, but it’s another solid entry to a field with growing choice.