2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E review: electric ponyland

There’s a Mustang motif between the lights, but Andrew Frankel can’t see the Mach-E stealing scenes in a Bond blockbuster

Ford Mustang Mach E

Perhaps a hint of oversteer if thrown into a corner but the handling is pure two-tonne SUV

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Remember the original Mach Mustang, the Mach 1? Introduced in 1969 as a high-performance version of Ford’s original pony car, it went on to fame and fortune, not least in a starring role in the Bond caper Diamonds Are Forever. A 7-litre V8 probably helped too. Excellent. Now forget it. Completely. Because while the name of this Ford Mustang Mach-E differs by just one letter, it is as far removed in time and concept from the Mach 1 as was the Mach 1 from the Model T.

It shows just how hard Ford is trying to sweep up stardust dropped over half a century ago, and sprinkle it on what is, after all, an electric SUV. You won’t even find a Ford badge on it, not least because it reckons customers will be far more likely to part with nearly £60,000 for a Mustang than they will a Ford.

Is this quite the desecration of the Mustang name it might at first appear? Well, no but only because you can still buy a V8-powered rear drive, manually operated Mustang coupé, and long may that remain the case. But you suspect that Ford has dropped hundreds of millions into this new generation because it knows the days of the traditional version are well and truly numbered.

For now, the most useful thing you can do to understand this car is to forget it’s a Mustang at all. Think of it as the Ford Fullsize SUV or FFS for short, and suddenly all becomes clear. It is a conspicuously good-looking example of that kind of car, quite sleek and with styling cues designed to remind the buyer of another kind of Ford whose name should not now be mentioned.

You can configure it almost any way you like: two-wheel drive, four-wheel, standard battery, big battery, the choice is yours. The car that visited British journalists the other week was predictably in top-of-the-range guise, though you can buy one for just over £40,000. And it’s a very easy car with which to live. With the big battery, its range is among the best, rated at 336 miles. which means it will probably do 280 miles or so on a gentle run in pleasant weather. On the way occupants will find both the front and rear spacious, comfortable and convenient. I was drawn to the luggage area under the bonnet, known in America as a front trunk or ‘frunk’, which is lined in hard plastic and comes complete with drain holes so you can fill it up with beer cans and cover them in ice, providing the perfect solution to a long weekend away at the races.

Ford Mach-E interior

Sensible position of the digital instrument display, and not a Ford badge in sight

The interior is dominated by an enormous 16in centre screen mounted in portrait format and which works even better than Tesla’s equivalent. And unlike a Tesla Model 3, which requires you to take your eyes off the road every time you want to know anything, the Ford provides an instrument display where you’d expect to find it: in front of your face.

What you won’t find is any incentive to drive it hard. It may have 346bhp, but with 2.1 tonnes to tow, its power-to-weight ratio is similar to that of another performance Ford, the Fiesta ST. Unlike the Fiesta however, it is delivered with nothing more than a distant whirring unless you choose the ambitiously entitled ‘Untamed’ driving mode. Do this and it makes a noise it thinks is a V8, but is closer to the sound a 1970s synthesizer might make if programmed by a 12-year-old trying to reproduce the noise of a V8.

“This is not a machine that anyone is ever going to get in and drive for the hell of it”

It handles well enough, but only by the standard of two-tonne SUVs. Body movements are well controlled and if you really lob it into a corner you can make it oversteer a bit, but the steering is pretty lifeless and you can never escape the sense of the car’s heft. This is not a machine that anyone is ever going to get in and drive for the hell of it. Perhaps that will change when the Mach-E GT arrives at the end of the year armed with over 110 additional horsepower, more torque and a 0-62mph time of 3.7sec. And perhaps it won’t.

For now, what you’re looking at is nothing more or less than a quite attractive family electric SUV, which may lack the cachet of a Polestar 2 or the look of a Jaguar I-Pace but in terms of raw ability is at least as good as either. It feels like a quality car in a way I just don’t associate with Fords. And I can see its purpose too, on all those tedious weekly journeys when a V8 would be profligate and increasingly socially unacceptable. I expect also that many in the US will at the weekend revert to a rather lower-slung Ford, also with a pony on its nose but a V8 where this car provides only a frunk.

The truth is, they share nothing other than a badge. One is purely transport and effective in that role, while the other is a dinosaur, a relic from another era handed one last task, namely to survive long enough to validate the Mach-E, to get owners over that transitional hump and accept that this is now the way the world must be for cars, Mustangs included. Then I expect that it too will be replaced by another cool-looking coupé, one powered by electricity alone. It will look like a Mustang but, unlike the Mach-E, will need to be as good to drive. And it is that which presents Ford with the greatest challenge of all.

Ford Mustang Mach-E AWD Extended statistics

  • Price £57,030
  • Engine Front and rear electric motors, 88kWh battery
  • Power 346bhp
  • Weight 2107kg
  • Torque 428lb ft
  • Power to weight 164bhp per tonne
  • Transmission Single-speed automatic, four-wheel drive
  • 0-62mph 5.1sec
  • Top speed 112mph
  • Range 336 miles (WLTP)
  • CO2 N /A
  • Verdict Premium Ford takes Mustang name into a silent future; so long V8!