A chance encounter afforded an opportunity to assess Ford’s first bespoke mainstream EV.
Taking the air on a lovely crisp late autumn morning, my eyes were drawn to the vehicle you see pictured here today, the Ford Mustang Mach-E. To the uninitiated, however, its manufacturer would remain a mystery, as there’s no sign of the blue oval badge anywhere on the exterior. Neither, for that matter, does the word Mustang appear. The only verbal clue to its provenance is the legend Mach-E positioned low down on the front doors. We will return to this curiosity later.
Launched in December 2020, the Mustang Mach-E is Ford’s first(1) bespoke mass-production electric vehicle. It is a mid-sized(2) crossover with a wheelbase of 2,984mm (117½”) and overall length of 4,739mm (186½”). It is produced in rear or all-wheel-drive forms. The Mach-E is available with a 70kWh standard range or a 91kWh extended range Lithium-Ion battery pack. In RWD form, they offer WLTP maximum ranges of up to 440 or 611km (273 or 379 miles) respectively. In AWD form, the extra weight reduces the WLTP maximum ranges to 400 or 540km (248 or 335 miles).
There is also a GT version with (only) the extended range battery pack, which is equipped with a more powerful 358kW electric motor. The GT achieves a breathtaking 0 to 100km/h (62mph) time of just 3.7 seconds. This version has a reduced WLTP maximum range of 500km (310 miles) which is still impressive, given the performance on offer.
The Mach-E was styled in-house at Ford and is attributed to Chris Walter, Exterior Design Manager. Interestingly, Ford decided against introducing a new and distinct design theme for what will undoubtedly be the first of a range of EVs. Instead, there are strong hints of Kuga, Puma and even Focus to be found in the Mach-E. This observation is not intended as a criticism and, while it does not advertise its new form of propulsion boldly, there is much to appreciate in the Mach-E’s design.
The flanks are really very nicely resolved. The haunches over both front and rear wheels fade out into the centre of the door skins, which also contain two rising feature lines. The latter, and the semi-circular creases in the wings around the wheel arches, add some tension and reduce the visual height of the body. All of these creases are quite subtle and consistent with each other, so sit happily together, catching the light in a way that is very pleasing.
The smooth body-coloured front end hints at a traditional grille shape(3) in outline. Below this is a more conventional valance with a black plastic insert that is slightly cheap looking but is also unusually modest and unaggressive for this type of vehicle. Likewise, at the back: apart from the slightly fussy Mustang-inspired tail lights, the rear end is smooth and clean looking, avoiding the busy ‘multi-layered’ styling trope widely used by other automakers on this type of vehicle.
The gloss black painted roof flows into the rear spoiler in an attempt to give the Mach-E a coupé style side profile. I had expected to dislike the artifice of this treatment, but it actually works rather well. I think this is because there is a distinct change in the cross-sectional profile where the body-coloured cant rails meet the black roof(4), creating a natural line for the change of colour.
The push-button door handles look exceptionally neat, although I have no idea how ergonomic they are in use. At least Ford didn’t go for the (to my eyes) incoherent mix of conventional front and ‘hidden’ rear door handles.
Inside, there is the inevitable EV design cliché of a large rectangular portrait-orientated touchscreen that appears to be floating above the centre console. A smaller rectangular display sits in front of the driver. Both of these screens look rather incongruous when surrounded by smoothly curved mouldings elsewhere.
Overall, in an era of hyperactive and extremely noisy automotive design, the Mach-E is pleasingly quiet, but not at all bland. The example I inspected would have benefitted from a wash but, even in its grubby state, the play of light across its subtly contoured surfaces was very pleasant to behold(5). I can think of a number of similarly sized crossovers from more prestigious automakers that are nothing as competently styled as the Mach-E.
Autocar magazine tested the Mach-E earlier this year and awarded it four stars out of five, describing it as “among the best attempts yet to give an electric car genuine dynamic appeal” and concluding that its “huge range provides the car with impressive GT legs and greater usability than rivals”. High praise indeed for Ford’s first EV.
Returning to my opening comment concerning badging, it is disappointing that Ford has apparently decided that the blue oval is devalued to the extent that it is no longer worthy of the Mach-E. The repurposing of Mustang as a sub-brand for EVs is, to my mind, a mistake. This is more likely to annoy those who hold Mustang in high regard than it is to impress those who are indifferent to the heritage of that name. The Mach-E would be an excellent European flagship for Ford in its post-Mondeo range, but instead seems to be an opportunity missed, as many non-car people will simply not recognise it as a Ford at all, which would be a shame.
(1) Neither the 1967 Comuta nor the 1999 Think City could ever be described as mainstream.
(2) Although it is a compact crossover in US terms.
(3) The GT version instead has a black patterned insert mimicking a grille.
(4) This suggests that the Mach-E was designed from the outset with this treatment in mind, unlike some other vehicles where duo-tone paint schemes are an obvious afterthought.
(5) Sadly, thanks to the limitations of the camera on my mobile phone and the ineptitude of its operator, my photos do not do full justice to the subtleties of the Mach-E’s contours.