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Ford Mustang Mach-E | Ridden

The prototype big Mach has arrived in Europe. PH samples the 'Mustang' EV from the passenger seat...

By Dafydd Wood / Friday, February 14, 2020

Would PH have gone along for a passenger ride in Ford's new all-electric SUV if it wasn't emblazoned with the iconic galloping pony logo we've come to know and love? Honestly? Probably not. But that's exactly why the Blue Oval has made the somewhat contentious decision to tie the Mustang's name, styling and heritage to this model; in order to attract a wider audience than it might have otherwise drawn.

So far it seems to be working. At its Go Electric event, which kicked off in London last night, the manufacturer claimed that one European dealer has already received 40 pre-orders, all from customers new to Ford. Customers who are also on average a decade younger than the marque's traditional clientele. Once prospective buyers hear that the brand reckons its entire electrified range - set to include 18 models by the end of next year - will save them a total of €30m in fuel bills continent-wide, that trend is likely to accelerate.

And the Mach E will be leading Ford's charge to meet them. It'll offer a choice of rear- or all-wheel drive, standard or extended-range batteries, and up to 370 miles of range. Single-motor, rear-wheel-driven cars with 258hp or 290hp and twin-motor all-wheel-drive models with 258hp or 337hp will be joined in 2021 by higher performing GT badged variants with up to 465hp. All iterations will come ready for "full hands-free driving" just as soon as regulations allow.

Which is convenient, seeing as our experience of the electric SUV is very much of the hands-off variety. A passenger ride through central London would not perhaps be our first choice scenario in which to glean an impression, but there you go.

The first thing that strikes you about the Mach E is, of course, its styling. A smattering of familiar Mustang design cues are present, from the headlights to the haunches, but it never really feels like enough to convince you of any genuine genetic relationship. If the exterior raises questions around the car's paternity, then, the cabin has you registering for an appearance on Jeremy Kyle. Aside from the 'Ground Speed' script on the fully-digital dash, meaningful traces of the sports coupe are virtually non-existent, the entire experience instead dominated by the 15.5-inch Tesla-style display.

Whether any of that will matter to the average buyer remains to be seen although, even in a city swamped with supercars, it certainly wasn't enough to render the Mach E uninteresting to passersby. Pedestrians unashamedly craned their necks and cabbies grabbed their phones from their dash-top holders to snatch hasty snaps. It certainly stands out.

While all Mach E production will take place in Mexico for now, cars destined for European shores will be treated to a different set-up than their North American counterparts. Built to a specially calibrated spec, a laundry list of modifications including re-tuned shocks, sway bars and bump stops and different tyres ought to see the model make a better impression on our roads.

On the streets of the capital - and the 100m sprint and slalom course Ford laid out in a car park - the impression was of a relatively nimble machine. This aligns with Ford's stated desire to make the Mach E look and feel a class smaller than it actually is, its 4.7-metre length and 1.6-metre height are certainly well disguised, although hiding up to 2,200kg of kerb weight may have been a harder trick to pull off.

That said, even the standard Mach E is claimed to have been designed to offer a sportier feel than the base variants of Ford's other models - without compromising too much on comfort, of course. Couple that with the sort of instant acceleration which even after years of Ludicrous Mode drag race videos still manages to come as a surprise, and the SUV does feel to manage to go some way to delivering on its sporting brief.

For a good many years now, Ford has managed to imbue even its cooking models with a dynamic driving experience many rivals struggled to match. If it can pull off the same trick with its debut EV, for a reasonable price, and while offering a decent enough range not to be overly reliant on a still-underdeveloped charging network, then the Mach E may well be the company's most significant Mustang to date.

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