It’s a charger, not a thoroughbred

Doctor on the Road: Ford Mustang Mach-E

Our tester Dr Tony Rimmer finds the new electric Mustang Mach-E a very different beast to its muscle car predecessor. 

Any hard-earned positive image must be protected from becoming tarnished or damaged otherwise the risk to future profitability will be significant.

This applies to any business, the motoring trade included. Think of a successful and iconic car that continues over many decades of development, like Porsche’s 911, and you realise how vital it is that any future iteration of this sportscar continues to thrill and impress potential buyers.

This is why many of us are surprised but intrigued by Ford’s decision to name its first all-electric car the Mustang.

This iconic V8 muscle car first appeared in 1964 and, with the help of Steve McQueen in the film Bullitt, established itself as one of Ford’s most successful models ever.

Over the years, various updated versions were released, some more successful than others, and it is still in production in Michigan today.

You can currently buy a British RHD Mustang Mach-1 with a 5.0litre 454bhp V8 fire-breathing engine and a manual gearbox for £56,995, but it may be the last such model that Ford make.

The new electric Mustang Mach-E is a very different beast.

Although it shares some styling cues from the original two-door coupé and sports plenty of galloping horse badgework, it is a five-door crossover that is aimed at the burgeoning family SUV market.

It is available with two battery size options, 75kWh or 98kWh and all-wheel drive or rear-drive only.

There is a range topping £67,225 GT with 480bhp that does 0-62 mph in 3.7 seconds, but I have been testing the more sensible £57,030 all-wheel drive range-extended version, with acclaimed 335-mile range, that has 346bhp and sprints from 0-62 mph in 5.1 seconds.

The cheapest version is the £41,330 rear-wheel drive model with 78kWh battery and 265bhp and a claimed 248-mile range.

Looks smart

The Mach-E looks smart with its coupé-like roofline and slim lights and large grille that emulate the original Mustang, but it is an SUV and cannot disguise its bulk.

Entry is by clever flush-fitting handles and when you take your place in the driver’s seat, the electric-drive environment is immediately obvious.

There is a large Tesla-like 15.5-inch portrait touchscreen centrally and a narrower and simpler information screen directly ahead that displays the speed, range and battery state.

The seats are comfortable and the trim quality is on par with competitors such as the VW iD4 and Skoda Enyaq but not at a premium level like in the Audi Q4 or Jaguar i-Pace.

It is a pleasant enough place to be and, unlike the original Mustang, there is plenty of space for passengers and luggage. Three adults can sit comfortably in the rear, aided by the flat floor of the all-electric platform.

So, does driving the Mach-E have anything in common with its coupé sibling? Well, in usual electric power style, acceleration is swift and instantaneous – but silent.

Missing roar

No lovely V8 roar that is music to the ear of petrolheads. As in most Fords, the steering is direct but not sharp enough to be called sporty.

The ride is firm, which helps body control through the corners but there is no way to disguise the over two tonne weight that is an inevitable consequence of large batteries. Subsequently, the suspension is slightly fidgety on anything but smooth roads.

As a keen driver, my overall on-road impressions are that the Mach-E drives better than many electric competitors but not the very best.

It cannot compete with some sporty internal combustion SUV competitors either. I did find that the predicted range generally matched reality if you drive normally, so that my test car would be able to cover a real-world 280–300 miles between recharges.

This is over my own theoretical psychological 250 miles barrier that makes long journeys a regular possibility for most people, most of the time – impressive.

Charging can be up to 150kW, but this is obviously restricted by availability in the public charging network – still work in progress.

So, the Mustang Mach-E is a worthy entry to the electric car club. It drives well and has impressive range. It is roomy and family-friendly. However, there are a lot of worthy competitors out there and the Mustang moniker could be misleading.

It did make me think: perhaps we petrolhead medics should think about grabbing the last chance we might get to buy an old style Mustang Mach-1 with its wonderful V8 soundtrack, manual gearbox and sports-car handling.

Dr Tony Rimmer (right) is a former NHS GP practising in Guildford, Surrey