When is a Mustang not a Mustang?
When it’s the Mach-E.
That’s what they’re calling Ford’s first, Mustang-inspired electric SUV.
I’m not sure I approve of taking an iconic name like the Mustang and applying it to something completely different.
Already we have the Ford Puma SUV, which was once a small coupé.
Now one of the great nameplates has been appropriated.
It’s interesting how it came about though. When Ford decided to make their first EV, they initially planned what they call a ‘compliance vehicle’ – something to get them into the market.
They quickly realised they needed something different to differentiate it from everything else on sale so they decided to raid their heritage and ‘Mustangify’ the new car.
To do this, they created an entirely new platform with a greatly extended wheelbase.
This facilitated a long bonnet and a cab-rear look, both reminiscent of the Mustang. The nose was raised to allow for a trademark shark nose and the A pillars were moved back substantially.
Does this turn an SUV into a Mustang? No, but it’s a striking design and one of the best looking SUVs I’ve seen.
Inside, the dashboard is dominated by a simply massive 15-inch portrait screen. Ford’s software engineers decided to use every bit of that space to ensure most functions only need a tap or two to complete and there’s natural voice control too.
Not only that, over time, the car learns your habits and presents customised options based on those habits. So if you habitually phone on your way home from work, a shortcut for that will appear on screen at the right time.
A built-in SIM provides a permanent cloud connection which Ford will use to offer upgraded functions over the air. Some cars come with self-driving hardware which will be turned on later with a software upgrade.
The rest of the dashboard is quite minimalist with just a small flat panel display in front of the driver to convey the essentials such as speed and navigation.
The dashboard itself is largely taken up with fabric-covered speakers which are extremely well integrated.
There’s plenty of space in the back, courtesy of that long wheelbase and a generous boot is supplemented by a second luggage compartment under the bonnet.
This ‘Frunk’ is around 100 litres so it can take a cabin-sized bag with ease but it’s completely plastic lined and can be hosed out so it’s an ideal place to store anything wet or muddy that you don’t want in the car.
As this is a Mustang, rear-wheel drive is a must, so the base car has one 220Kw motor that drives the rear axle.
Four-drive models get a further 50Kw motor at the front while the GT model gets two 220Kw motors. They are designed and built in-house and Ford are at pains to point out that they haven’t had a single failure in any of the 1.6 million built so far for use in hybrids.
There are two batteries, with capacities of 76lWh or 99kWh. Both are lithium-ion, cooled or heated by liquid.
The end result is a range of around 600km under WLTP conditions. Four-wheel-drive versions lose around 10pc of that range while GT models travel shorter again.
That is the trade-off for their greater performance and 20ins wheels (sizes range from 18ins to 20ins depending on trim).
Performance is strong, with a claimed 0-100kmh time of under five seconds for the GT model. The others are not far behind.
Straight line performance isn’t everything if you’re going to call your car a Mustang so there’s a multi-link rear suspension and MagneRide adjustable dampers on the GT.
There are drive modes: Whisper, Engaged and Unbridled.
As part of the driving ‘experience’ we tried a pre-production car on a slalom course near the launch venue in Los Angeles.
It was deeply impressive, carving cleanly through the bollards, aided by its low centre of gravity.
What was more impressive was that the course was built over a drain that would unsettle a lesser car. Yet the Mach-E sailed serenely on.
Ford have produced a credible and impressive first electric car.
It manages to capture much of the spirit of the Mustang and injects it with a healthy dose of practicality.
Potential buyers can register their interest now with a refundable deposit on one of the First Edition cars which will come with extras including a full-length panoramic roof. Delivery is not expected until late 2020.
It will cost from €50,000; with AWD versions from €65,000.
* Extended Mustang Mach-E range, 600km (540 4WD); standard range 450km (420 4WD).
* Extended battery 98.8kWh, standard battery 75.7kWh.
* Power: 258PS-465PS.
* Charging: up to 150kW DC.