We all know the Mustang brand has serious pedigree, so Ford's idea of sticking that emotive moniker on a heavy SUV, fuelled by batteries and without the ringing endorsement of a traditional bellowing V8, raised more than a few eyebrows. But what could it do? Ford wasn't alone in being caught napping with the meteoric rise of Tesla and a changing wider world. When you find yourself on the back foot, you need to take risks to stand out. So it did. Question is, is the Mustang Mach-E GT - the most powerful and 'Mustangy' of this new breed of pony - worthy of the name? And, for that matter, its near £70,000 price tag?
What are the alternatives? Well, obviously the Tesla Model Y, but there are plenty of people who - rightly or wrongly - would rather lop off a leg than join Club Tesla, even if it does give you access to by far the best charging network in the country. Then there's the Volkswagen ID.4 GT Max, but that's a solid contender rather than an exceptional one, and, like every other VW Group product, comes with a befuddling infotainment system that you can't avoid interacting with. So that's out. The Hyundai Ioniq 5 is good, but not really very sporty. Whereas its Kia-branded sibling is.
That said, the Kia EV6 AWD GT-Line S we have here isn't an eye-line rival for the Mach-E GT because it's trading 326hp and 446lb ft against the Mach-E's 487hp and 634lb ft. The problem is, the all-singing, all-dancing Kia EV6 GT isn't out yet, and this test speaks to those in need of a car today not tomorrow. And the fact is, with BIK tax so low on all EVs at the moment, the near-£15,000 premium for this most powerful of Mustangs isn't a big obstacle if you're a company car user: even if you're in the top income tax band, we're talking a piffling £120 on your annual tax bill to run the Mach-E GT over this EV6. So, assuming the Mach-E GT features on your option list in the first place, you'd be mad not to, right? Ah, but just because you can doesn't mean you should. Is the Mach-E GT actually the better car? That's the burning question.
Well, there's one aspect of the EV6's performance that beats the Mach-E's hands down - and many other EVs as well, including the Model Y. Its charging rate. With an 800-volt DC onboard charger, you can feed it energy at up to 350kW. So you can cram a 10-80 per cent charge (if you can find a charger that powerful) into its 77kWh (useable) battery in as little as little as 16 minutes. The Mach-E's 150kW on board charger needs 43 minutes to complete the same top up, although its bigger (useable) 91kWh battery - which, incidentally, has just been increased from 88kWh with a software update that'll be available to existing owners - provides a slightly better WLTP range: 310 miles versus the EV6's 300 miles. As always, it is unlikely you will achieve those figures in the real world. You can expect around 200 miles from the EV6 on a cross-country run in temperate conditions, and maybe 215 miles from the Mach-E.
When it comes to the traditional measure of performance, though, the Mach-E smashes the EV6. From a standing start it'll hit 0-62mph in 3.7 seconds, while the EV6 takes 5.2 seconds. How amazing is it that 5.2 seconds, for what's really a fairly ordinary means of family transport, is made to sound so slow? The truth, of course, is it isn't. The EV6 provides a surfeit of performance for your every whim. You'll never find its torque delivery wanting at anything up to UK motorway speeds and it'll dispatch dawdling A-roaders with consummate ease, that's for certain. Still, there's no denying the Mach-E's extra rapaciousness, which is strong enough to overwhelm the grip of the front axle, causing the front tyres to scrabble and the steering wheel to squirm during full-bore assaults. It's certainly more frenetic than the EV6.
It's clearly been set up to entertain, too, because you can exit bends with varying angles by overwhelming the rear axle as well. Yet the same is true of the EV6 and, if anything, its more predictable power delivery makes it sweeter to play with. And not just on the exit of corners, either, because the EV6 offers adjustability in other ways. Back off if the nose starts pushing and you feel the car pivoting neatly around its mid-point and tucking in. It does everything that the Mach-E will do apart from the cartoonishly lairy stuff. It has a degree of nuance about it, and you have to hand it to Kia for delivering a degree of fun with some polish.
This air of polish to shines through in other ways. The EV6 - relatively speaking because it's no Taycan - has the damping and spring rates to cope not only with demanding road undulations but also the demands of its own considerable mass. The suspension rarely feels like it's running out of ideas, no matter how challenging the terrain, so from behind the wheel you find yourself growing with confidence and diving deeper into its chassis' reserves. The steering plays its part. It's not overburdened with feel from the road, but it loads up enough to let you gauge the forces acting on the front tyres and it's precise enough to navigate between the verges of a narrow and winding road without any stress.
There are other pluses as well. The brakes aren't unduly corrupted by energy recouperation and feel progressive as a result. And speaking of regen, I was rather enamoured with Kia's role for the steering wheel paddles. Lots of cars let you change the regen from the paddles, but I haven't come across one with the flexibility of the EV6's. Tap the left one on the way into a corner and each time it'll increase the regen in a way that mimics, to an extent, changing down gears. You can also hold the left-hand paddle and it'll phase the regen braking up to maximum, slicing off some momentum progressively, until you release the paddle and it returns to the previous setting. For a one-pedal effect you can flick the paddle until the regen is at its maximum, or press and hold the right paddle for the auto mode, which varies the regen depending on what's ahead. It's well thought out and gives you options without needing to delve into a screen. That's good.
The Mach-E doesn't have paddles behind the steering wheel and after jumping out the EV6 you miss them. Instead, the regen is controlled from the infotainment screen, where the one pedal switch is found, or the 'L' button on the rotary gear selector that gives you a halfway house. But its lack of regen options is nothing to the lack of finesse in the brake pedal itself. No matter how much time I spent driving the Mach-E and trying to tune into the brakes, I just couldn't. To all intents and purposes, they're either on or off. This makes any attempt at smoothness along a road with lots of stops between corners nigh-on impossible. And that's not the end of its disjointedness. Unlike the Kia, the steering drops into an artificial software trough around the straight-ahead, and either side of that there's some vagueness that immediately puts you on the back foot when you've got kerbs hemming you in. After that the steering weights up but the holding torque mid-bend still isn't as consistent.
Then we come to the Mach-E's suspension. While the EV6 is settled and builds confidence over bumps, the Mach-E makes you feel like you're living on the edge; like it's recreating the authenticity of Mustangs of old with a live rear axle, because there's very little harmony between the front and back. Where the EV6's body tends to rise and fall as one over imperfections, the Mach-E produces a series of separate reactions at each end. The spring rates feel higher, because you feel impacts more intently, and the damping - which is adaptive while the EV6's is passive - isn't as well resolved because the aftershocks are more apparent as well. The impression is a battle of mass management, and it's a battle the Mach-E feels like it's teetering on the edge of losing at times.
Because of its better composure, the EV6 is also a much calmer motorway car. There's some gentle sway in its tall body that rocks you gently but it doesn't fidget like the Mach-E. Both cars are firm over sharp ridges and potholes, but the EV6 isn't jarring - in part because its chassis doesn't produce the noisy thumps that the Mach-E's does . Both cars damp out wind noise very well, but the Mach-E's cabin is more open to road noise than the EV6's, which is commendably quiet for a car at this price range. It all adds up to it being a fine motorway car.
Before you think it's all praise for the EV6, there are issues with it, too. The infotainment screen is a stretch away and it's not always as responsive as the Mach-E's bigger, Tesla-esque portrait offering. There appears to be a few more glitches in the EV6's software as well, whereas the Mach-E's seems more stable and, personally, I think its menus are bit easier to fathom as well. Indeed, aside from the overarching issue of sticking a massive tablet in a car, I'd say the Ford's system is one of the slickest and easiest to use after Tesla's, bar some annoyingly small icons.
It's also easier for me to see the top of the instrument screen in the Mach-E. In the EV6 the steering wheel cuts off some crucial info - the speedo, for example - although that is duplicated in the EV6's head-up display, which is standard on the GT-Line S and unavailable with the Mach-E. There are also one or two physical buttons in the EV6 - plus a lot more touch-sensitive ones - to make fiddling with the everyday settings a bit easier. And those buttons, like the rest of its interior, feel better quality than what you find in the Mach-E. The gear selector dial, for example, wobbles around, while the EV6's is steady and well damped.
In many other ways, their driving positions are similar. Both cars have high floors and low seats, so you're sitting with your legs out straighter than you would be in a standard SUV - one without a huge battery beneath its seats. But they're still very adjustable cars, with standard multiway powered seats and manually adjustable steering wheels, each with a good range of fore and aft movement as well as height. And comfortable seats. They lack a bit of thigh support thanks to their shortish squabs, but otherwise keep you well cushioned even after a few hours toiling away behind the wheel. The Mach-E's sportier, GT Performance semi-buckets clamp you better in corners, though, but the EV6's faux-suede trim is at least grippy.
In the rear, they have flat floors all the way across but, again, they're high, making it feel like you're sitting on a futon with your knees way above your backside. This is worse in the EV6 than it is in the Mach-E, and the EV6 has a bit less headroom as well - the Mach-E's optional glass roof adding an extra centimetre or so along with flooding the interior with light. The EV6 has more legroom, although neither car is cramped in the rear, and if you fancy a snooze, it's the only one with a reclining rear backrest. Each car has twin boots, although the space under their bonnets isn't much cop. Their rear boots are both decent - big enough to cope with a family's needs at least - and there's the option to fold down the back seats and add more volume when required. The EV6's ski hatch adds some extra versatility over the 60:40 split that both have.
As these are top-end trims, you're pretty well served for toys. Each has useful safety aids, like blind spot monitoring, and annoying ones, like lane assist, which thankfully you can turn off easily from their respective steering wheels. There are also parking cameras and sensors, to help mitigate their iffy rear visibility, while on the luxury side, both have adaptive cruise with semi-automated steering, heated seats, a heated steering wheel, wireless charging, keyless opening and a premium sound system. The B&O system in the Mach-E sounds punchy, but the Meridian system in the EV6 is muddy in the mid-range and a bit disappointing.
Still, despite its stereo's weaknesses, and the fact that its keyless entry is buggy and even managed to lock me out of the car (thankfully, the window was down) the EV6 wins this test by a country mile. Once those little niggles are sorted, which no doubt they will be with a software update, you'll be left with a much better resolved product - a better EV in terms of its charging, and a better car in terms of ride, refinement and driving enjoyment. The EV6 really is a good steer, and not just for an EV but for any SUV. It has sufficient balance and poise to satisfy those of us looking for such things in a family-friendly car.
Unfortunately, there won't be any over-the-air updates that can fix the Mach-E's flaws. They're rather more fundamental than a few software glitches, which is a shame. Ford knows how to setup a car to offer driving pleasure, but it's missed the mark with this one. The best I can say is that it feels like there might be a good car in there after some additional tuning work. But then there's the other issue: the charging rate. Sure, right now 350kW chargers are few and far between. But that will change, too, and sitting for 16 minutes waiting for a charge is a lot less frustrating than being stuck at some god-awful services waiting 45 minutes in your Mach-E. Which means it's already out of date. So while the Mustang's possession of superior straight-line speed and barroom bragging rights are indisputable, you'd need an unhealthy obsession in both regards to choose it over the EV6. Kia's current flagship is more than quick enough, and a much, much better car to boot.
Specification | 2022 Ford Mustang Mach-E GT
Engine: Dual electric motors
Transmission: 1-speed auto, four-wheel drive
Power (hp): 487
Torque (lb ft): 634
Useable battery size (kWh): 91
0-62mph: 3.7 seconds
Top speed: 124mph
Combined range: 310 miles (WLTP)
Energy consumption: 3.1 m/kWh
CO2: 0g/km (WLTP)
Price: £66,280 (£68,425 as tested with Panorama Roof and Dark Matter Grey Exclusive Body Colour)
Specification | 2022 Kia EV6 AWD GT-Line S
Engine: Dual electric motors
Transmission: 1-speed auto, four-wheel drive
Power (hp): 326
Torque (lb ft): 446
Useable battery size (kWh): 77.4
0-62mph: 5.2 seconds
Top speed: 114mph
Combined range: 300 miles (WLTP)
Energy consumption: 3.45 m/kWh
CO2: 0g/km (WLTP)
Price: £52,695 (£52,695 as tested)
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