Why The Mustang Mach-E Is Brilliant, But EV Charging isn't!
I wasn't expecting to enjoy the Mach-E this much, but this is not everything. Owning an EV is not only the car, but also the charging infrastructure.
By Phil Bradley
Let me start this piece by emphasising that I am a petrolhead. Some would even describe me as even a little obsessed with automobiles. Like many others, I dread the date of 2030, where new, petrol and diesel car sales will be banned here in the UK. I adore the sound of an engine and the feedback you receive from it when driving, something which I will miss when alternative energy powered cars take over. When it comes to cars, I am at the total opposite end of the spectrum when it comes advocating electric cars. Having said that, the Mustang Mach-E changed my opinion entirely on this subject, so much so, that if this is what the future of driving looks like, then I think I would be quite content. Allow me to explain shortly, but first, let's talk about Mustang as a brand.
The Ford Mustang is as much of a household name as Coca Cola. First launched by Ford in 1964, it's the longest production model by the manufacturer and their 6th best seller. Now also in it's 6th generation, the design continues the tradition of being a 3-door muscle car, available with either a coupe or convertible styled roof. Last year however, Ford launched a new member of the Mustang family, the Mustang Mach-E. An all-electric crossover with 5-doors, has Ford gone mad?!
Wearing the new green number plates for electric vehicles in the UK, the front bumper houses vents that operate automatically to cool the electrical system if it gets too hot. As the SUV has no engine, the front grille has been replaced with a body coloured faceplate, adorning the Mustang pony badge. Interestingly, Ford have chosen to badge the car with the Mustang badges instead of traditional Ford ones, and there's only two Ford badges on the whole of the car. One on the top of the windscreen, and the other that flashes up on the infotainment screen. The LED headlights are similar to those of the current Ford Mustang, as is the bonnet, with aggressive lines running down the centre of the SUV.
The side profile of the Mach-E is a coupe style, with a sloping roof at the rear and the Mach-E sits on 18" wheels as standard, or 19" wheels with the all-wheel drive option. Ford have taken a leaf out of Tesla's book and tried to be a bit creative with the doors. Instead of door handles, each door has a button, which releases the door for the driver or passenger to open. You can even set a pin code to lock or unlock the car if needed to, a quirky feature, but something that's not uncommon with utility vehicles in the U.S.. The charging point for the electric SUV is also located on the wing in front of the passenger door.
At the rear, the boot spoiler continues the sloping coupe style at the back of the Mach-E. Just like the headlights, the taillights mimic those from the 6th generation Mustang, with the clear coloured, 3-LED light design on either side of the vehicle. On the boot is the Mustang pony logo again. Apart from the lights, badges and some design cues, there's nothing overly similar to a Mustang in the Mach-E on the exterior.
Moving inside the electric SUV, the first thing you notice is the 15.5 inch infotainment screen. This screen controls everything from the navigation to the heated seats, climate control and other car settings. There's a volume control wheel for the audio, but everything else is touch screen. As much as I like the minimalist feel, I do prefer having some physical buttons, as finding the function you want from the touch screen can be difficult and, more importantly, distracting when you are driving. Perhaps i'm old fashioned like that. The driver gets a smaller screen behind the steering wheel too, which displays speed and electric range remaining. If owners opt for technology pack, a Bang and Olufsen sound system is added, and Ford integrate a rather nice B&O sound bar into the dashboard, which I thought was a really cool feature.
The centre console has the driving selector wheel, which also includes 'L' for 'Low' mode, or regenerative braking. For readers who aren't overly familiar with electric cars, this mode applies braking when your foot isn't on the accelerator, which may sound odd, but it helps use the energy from the brakes to recharge the car slightly, which makes you drive more efficiently. Regenerative braking also allows the driver to drive with just one pedal - the accelerator, which makes driving more effortless. The seats are electronically adjustable, and rather comfy, with plenty of legroom in the back, but you'd expect that from a mid-sized SUV like this.
The Mach-E has three driving modes, which are configured on the infotainment screen. These are Active, Whisper and Untamed. Active is your standard driving mode, with Whisper reducing noises even further, whilst Untamed adds red mood lighting to the cabin and introduces a false V8 sound through the speakers. At least the sound of a Mustang is still there! Ford have actually explained that these driving modes don't change the driving characteristics of the car, but instead encourage different emotions from the driver, therefore instigating a different driving style. So you can't really affect the range of the Mach-E through changing the driving mode.
Let's move onto what is possibly the most important topic when it comes to EVs. The numbers, or more importantly, the range! The Mach-E starts from £41,330, and for that you receive a single electric motor, driving power to the rear wheels, and a claimed range of 273 miles. Both are respectable figures when you consider the price of a Tesla Model X at £81,000 and 350 miles of range. The current highest specification on the Mach-E is the AWD extended range model, with dual electric motors, one on each axle. This achieves 335 miles of range and has a starting price of £57,000. Again, respectable versus the competition, and better looking in my opinion!
The AWD extended range produces 346BHP and 580NM of torque. As with all electric cars, the Mach-E puts the torque to the tarmac instantly, and this results in a 0-62MPH time of 5.1 seconds. A very impressive time, considering the latest VW Golf GTI does the same in 5.6 seconds, and bare in mind that with the batteries, the Mach-E weighs a little under 2 tonnes! Ford have promised an ever hotter, Mach-E GT model later this year, with a claimed 0-62MPH time of 3.7 seconds. So I'm excited for that!
My thoughts on the Mach-E were negative before the SUV had even arrived, which is never a great start when it comes to writing impartial reviews on cars. After all, we've already discussed that it doesn't look overly like a Mustang, aside from a few details on the exterior. Seeing the electric Mustang arrive on my drive, I was trying to keep an open mind.
I think what we need to do is stop comparing the Mach-E to the V8 Mustang we're all familiar with, and instead compare 'apples with apples'. When compared to other electric vehicles in the same segment, the Ford is instantly better looking, more aggressive and most importantly, no huge gaps in the panels that make some angles on the car look as if they're out of place. I commend Ford for the looks of the SUV, even if it isn't overly 'Mustangy'.
Stepping inside the electric Mustang, the interior is a generally a pleasant place to be, with the infotainment screen instantly picking up my phone for wireless Apple CarPlay. The start button on the dashboard gives you no indication of any engine roaring into life like we are used to. Instead, a 'Ready' light appears on the driver's screen, and turn the drive selector to drive and the car begins to roll. Silently, of course.
I do enjoy driving mid-sized SUVs, the driving position is good, and there is good visibility from the Mach-E, particularly from the rear window, which is normally obscured by these sloping, coupe style rooflines. The A-pillar seemed to be overly thick and I found this a regular blindspot when manoeuvring. The steering was light however, and once at the steering lock, the wheels allow you just a small amount of further movement to give that even tighter turning circle. The instant torque is always fun with electric cars, and the Mach-E gives you the thrown back in the seat feeling when you mash the accelerator to the floor, and really makes you believe the 5.7 second 0-62MPH time. Do this regularly however, and it naturally affects your electric range. My only negative point would be that the ride in the Mach-E was a tad firm.
After some time driving the car, I tried the one-pedal driving mode, or "Low" mode. It takes a bit of getting used to, but effectively removes the need for the brake pedal, and in turn improves your driving efficiency. You could argue that it takes the emotion out of driving, but I found it made driving enjoyable, as my foot was always on the 'Go' pedal, as opposed to the 'Stop' one. Unlike other electric cars I've driven in the past, I found that I didn't experience the dreaded range anxiety that accompanies the ownership of an EV. Perhaps the higher range of the Mach-E was something that comforted me more.
I tried using the 3-pin home charger, which gave me around 10% additional charge when charging for a few hours during the day. I think the 3-pin charger is a valid temporary solution, but if you're wanting faster charging, you'll need a home charging point fitted, or use one of the higher kW chargers at service stations. Ford claim that Mach-E can charge 75 miles in just 10 minutes and I believe it. The issue following this is the length of time taken to charge the Mach-E to 100%. With combustion engined cars, we're so used to filling them up to the brim, then emptying them and repeating the process. With electric cars, that's not the case. To fully charge an EV takes too long, so we're instead encouraged to top the battery up, with short bursts like the 10 minute charge for 75 miles range.
That brings me on to what is my biggest issue with not just this car, but EVs in general, - Charging. I first reviewed an electric car a little over two years ago, and I was shocked to learn that my local charging infrastructure hasn't improved at all since the last time I required their services. The two, local petrol stations that had chargers for electric cars weren't working. Furthermore, I found that other local chargers were located in pubs and restaurants, all of which were closed due to the pandemic, with their car parks locked, so I had no access to charging. This became a real frustration during my week with the Mach-E, so much so that the day before the car was due to be picked up, I tried (and failed) with six different charging stations, each had their own issues. To further add to frustrations, I found that places that had working chargers, also charged for parking. This resulted in me paying not only to charge the car, but to park too! I ended up coming home and charging on my 3-point home plug instead, which took forever! We may have some capable electric vehicles here in the UK, but at this moment, I don't feel we have the charging infrastructure to back them up.
I wanted to dislike the Mach-E, genuinely. But the more I drove the EV, the more enjoyed it. It was easy to drive and manoeuvre, had power when I needed it, but was also capable of just cruising and help me drive more efficiently. Moreover, I knew that I wasn't going to be hit by a whopping fuel bill when I came to filling it up. Instead, just a few pound here and there for charges. Where I believe Ford have fallen down with the Mach-E is badging the EV as a 'Mustang'. It is not, and doesn't offer much in terms of a resemblance to any Mustang that's ever been produced. I feel that the Mustang has instead been used as marketing campaign to get us as consumers to pay more attention to Ford's EV model.
This has, in turn encouraged us to compare it with the Mustang model. I feel that it's important not to do this, and instead compare the Mach-E with other EV SUVs on the market. When compared to the likes of the Tesla Model X, Jaguar I-Pace and Polestar 2, the Mach-E fairs very well. The interior and some of the exterior design elements obviously take inspiration from the Model X, with an iPad style infotainment system, and creative door entry options. It's almost like the Mach-E has all the fun elements of a Tesla, but offers Ford's build quality and reliability, two characteristics that are very welcome in this segment. As petrolheads, we can loathe EVs until 2030, but ultimately, we will eventually need to embrace the change. Is it a Mustang? No. But, if the future EV models are anything like the Mach-E, I say bring it on.
Ford Mustang Mach-E