It is highly unlikely the debate around whether the Mach-E is “a real Mustang” or not isn’t likely to be settled any time soon - I mean, the Mustang II that launched in 1973 without a V8 in the line up (that wouldn’t come until the worst of the oil crisis of the 70s was over in 1975) and an entry-level four cylinder engine that produced 66kW is largely remembered with derision now.
But the thing is; it was actually very popular back when it launched, selling more than a million examples during its four-year production run, with its 1973 debut being the fourth largest sales year for the Mustang.
While the Mustang II’s sales numbers were about half of the first-generation’s sales numbers for the same period from 1965 to 1968, they were almost double the sales for the original car from 1969 to 1973 (when it got very fat indeed).
So is it a “real Mustang”? I dunno; I mean, I like it and I think it is, but I like weird cars…
Anyway, take that how you will, because I also like the Mustang Mach-E. Particularly the GT model that packs five times more power than that original Mustang II and is the fastest accelerating Mustang currently on sale, nailing 100km/h from a standing start in 3.7 seconds, eclipsing the V8 GT coupe by half a second.
And yes, obviously this is all VERY contrived, with the clever electronics allowing small amounts of playful silliness from both ends purely for effect.
Now, acceleration isn’t actually the be-all, end-all of either EVs or performance cars (sorry Tesla fanboys), but the way the Mach-E accelerates puts me in mind very much of what I imagine a theoretical V8-powered AWD Mustang GT coupe would be like.
By that, I mean that it certainly isn’t the clinical experience of extreme acceleration that something like a Tesla or a Porsche Taycan delivers. Nope, nail the happy pedal in the Mach-E and the nose rears up (just like a ‘real’ Mustang) and it smashes violently forward (just like a ‘real’ Mustang), tyres struggling for grip in a way that feels like a cross between a FWD Focus ST and a RWD Mustang GT, with both ends getting in on the feral, slightly wayward fun.
The same goes when going around a corner - get on the power early and it will give a tiny hint of the Focus ST’s legendary torque steer. Get on it later and the rear will come over all Mustang V8 (with shades of FPV Falcon) and do anything from a cheeky wiggle through to a full-blown drift depending on how much throttle you give it and your level of bravery/stupidity (on a track, of course).
And yes, obviously this is all VERY contrived, with the clever electronics allowing small amounts of playful silliness from both ends purely for effect. But what a wonderful effect it is, giving the Mach-E a very “non-EV” feel in favour of a feel far more in line with the V8 coupe.
Which genuinely makes the GT easily the most engaging and enjoyable EV I have driven so far. Sure, you will never see that WLTP range of 490km driving it like you actually enjoy it, but you would never see much range from a V8 doing the same thing…
Nail the happy pedal in the Mach-E and the nose rears up (just like a ‘real’ Mustang) and it smashes violently forward (just like a ‘real’ Mustang).
Another area where the Mach-E is very much like the V8 coupe is its interior. Not in terms of looks and layout, mind you, but in terms of the slightly cheap feel that both have. You could easily argue that a traditional, slightly crap, Ford interior is not what you expect from a $100k-plus car - and I wouldn’t disagree with you - but then you can make the same argument about the V8 coupe…
Some of the technology is of a questionable nature as well, with the awkward button/door handle nubs being weird for the sake of it and the separate touch button directly above to lock the car is doubly so.
The big touchscreen infotainment system is a typically-Ford blend of excellent and maddening; Android Auto connectivity is slick and beautifully integrated, but spotty and unstable in its connection, while the menu layout is sensible and intuitive for some features and downright confusing for others.
But if you are a long-time Ford buyer, chances are you will expect things like this anyway.
Fortunately, you can also expect the more positive aspects of traditional Fords as well - the Mach-E is impressively comfortable, remarkably capable and seriously engaging when you want to have some fun.
FORD MUSTANG MACH-E GT
MOTOR: 98.7kWh battery with dual electric motors
GEARBOX: Single-speed automatic, AWD
CONSUMPTION: 20.0kWh/100km, maximum charge rate 150kW, range 490km (WLTP)