John McIlroy 2019-11-20 21:00
The all-electric Mustang Mach-E crossover builds on the famous sports car nameplate and gives Ford a rival for the Tesla Model 3
Ford has unveiled the new Mustang Mach-E at the Los Angeles Motor Show. The all-electric crossover is designed to build on the famous sports car nameplate and give the American manufacturer a proper rival for the likes of the Tesla Model 3 and Jaguar I-Pace.
The Mach-E is a 4.7-metre long SUV (slightly longer than the Jag) with a relatively low and aggressive roofline – but it’s a full five-seater, with a total luggage capacity (front and rear) of more than 500 litres. Prices start from £40,270 for the standard model but you'll need £46,570 for a 4×4 variant and £58,000 for the First Edition. The first Mach-E models will reach UK dealers towards the end of 2020.
The car’s looks and layout are likely to be controversial with Mustang devotees – but they sit in line with the current trends towards taller vehicles, and are required in any case to accommodate the Mach-E’s batteries in the thicker floor.
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The front and rear of the crossover include obvious Mustang design cues in the head and tail-lights, while a complex front moulding incorporates the sports car’s grille shape, but with a flush finish instead of any air intakes. And like the sports car, there are no Ford badges to be found on the Mach-E; instead, the famous Mustang emblem is located on the car’s nose and rear.
Murat Gueler, chief designer for Ford of Europe, said the firm is optimistic that doubters will be won over by the final shape. “We wanted to make this an EV with soul,” he told us. “The Mach-E is definitely inspired by Mustang, and that’s a vehicle that only Ford could do.”
Along the flanks, the Mach-E’s profile is disguised by a thick extra section – in contrast-black colour on the car in our pictures – which tries to fool the eye into thinking that the roofline is more coupé- like than it really is. The side profile reveals a long wheelbase (2,984mm) with short overhangs, but a longer bonnet than a Jaguar I-Pace, for example.
The Mach-E also does without conventional door handles; instead, there are buttons on the B and C-pillars that pop the doors open. Rear passengers will just open the door by grabbing the metal itself, but research suggested to Ford that those opening the front doors would feel uncomfortable putting their fingers into the resulting crevice, so they get a small ‘lip’ below the button that they can then use.
The car will be accessed via a smartphone key, and Ford says that depending on user patterns, the car may learn to recognise the user approaching at a common time – just before the morning commute, for example – and pop the door open automatically. There’s also a keypad in one of the B-pillars in case your smartphone is out of charge.
The electric Mustang will be offered in a range of different technical levels. The entry point, Mach-E, will be rear-wheel drive and available with two different combinations of electric motor and battery. The cheapest version will have 255bhp and a 75kWh battery for a range of 280 miles, while the more potent edition brings 282bhp and gets a 99kWh battery for a WLTP range of around 370 miles – the most of any model in the line-up. Both of the electric motors offer 415Nm of torque, for a 0-62mph time of less than eight seconds. The equivalent, entry-level Tesla Model 3 has 252bhp and covers the 0-62mph dash in 5.3 seconds.
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The four-wheel-drive Mach E – which will carry the complex monicker Mach-E 4X, and is the car in our pictures – is also available with the lower-powered electric motor and 75kWh battery, delivering a range of 260 miles between charges. It’s also on offer with a flagship set-up with 333bhp and the 99kWh battery. Ford says that four-wheel-drive models will manage the 0-62mph dash in less than seven seconds, and the increased torque figure across all of its electric motors – 582Nm – would support this. Regardless of power output or battery, all Mach-Es have a top speed of 111mph.
The Mach-E’s performance figures look respectable for an electric vehicle, rather than startling, but a faster GT edition of the car is under development. Gueler told us that the more focused version would sit lower and look more aggressive: “We definitely still have plenty of ‘Mustang spice’ that we can add to the mix,” he said. Called the Mach-e GT, Ford is targetting a 0-62mph time of ‘less than five seconds’, a power output of 458bhp and 830Nm of torque.
Inside, the dashboard is dominated by a portrait-orientated 15.5-inch touchscreen, which features an interface that’s totally new to Ford. The system incorporates some algorithms that use search data from your web browser or smartphone to suggest likely destinations or music – much like Google’s Android Auto. It’ll also recognise which phone has been used to open the vehicle and offer tailored content to the user in question.
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The screen incorporates a wide range of features, but key car-related controls, such as the heating and ventilation, are sited at the bottom and have a clear interface. There’s even a tactile rotary dial, which is neatly integrated into the centre of the lower portion of the display.
The car has no conventional instrument panel; instead, Ford has installed a 10.2-inch digital layout that looks particularly crisp. The company has decided against fitting a head-up display to the new offering, however.
The dashboard tech doesn’t end there, because the fabric section along the top edge of the fascia can actually hide a sound bar, incorporating speakers from Ford’s audio partner Bang & Olufsen. The cubbyhole at the bottom of the dash includes a wireless charging pad for smartphones, along with both USB-A and USB-C connectors.
The new model is easily the most practical car to ever carry the Mustang name – and it should be competitive in this area against many of its rivals. There is 402 litres of luggage space behind the rear seats, and this expands to 1,420 litres if you fold down the second row. In addition, the bonnet can be opened using controls on the central infotainment screen to reveal a washable load area with an additional 100 litres of space.
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Rear-drive Mach-Es will get 18-inch alloy wheels as standard, along with LED tail-lights, phone key access, adaptive cruise control and up to 150kW rapid charging. The Mach-E 4X adds larger 19-inch alloys, adaptive LED headlights, eight-way powered front seats and heated folding side mirrors.
In addition, Ford is offering a First Edition version in limited numbers; it gets a full-length panoramic glass roof, 19-inch alloy wheels, a 10-speaker B&O sound system and exclusive exterior colours, including metallic Grabber Blue.
Q&A with Murat Gueler
Chief designer, Ford of Europe
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Murat Gueler has worked on a number of key projects at Ford, including the recently launched Puma. He gave us extra insight into the thought processes that led to a Mustang becoming Ford’s first EV.
Q: Was the Mustang always at the heart of the electric car that Ford’s ‘Project Edison’ was designed to produce?
A: “No, not at all. It was going in a completely different direction, in fact, and it wasn’t working out. It was a bit of a ‘eureka’ moment, at the end of 2016 or early in 2017, when we first started trying to inject some Mustang DNA into the project. When the first design popped up, it made the program. And it started us moving in a different way, because the principles that we had been working on couldn’t be applied on this car.”
Q: Purists are probably going to complain about the idea of a Mustang being an SUV, let alone one that runs purely on electricity. Are you prepared for a backlash?
A: “I don’t see this as an SUV, really. When you look at the side profile of the car, I don’t think it’s a conventional SUV at all; it’s really a crossover that incorporates inspiration from Mustang, hopefully without us going overboard with it.
“As for the purists, I’m sure there will be some who never change their mind about it, but we know from some customer clinics that others have come round to this idea quite quickly.
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“After all, only Ford Motor Company can make a Mustang. And Mustang-inspired design gives us a unique point of view when approaching this kind of car.”
Q: What were the big challenges in making the Mustang EV in this format?
A: “There were a few areas we had to watch carefully. We worked very closely with the engineering team to make sure that we could deliver the right proportions for the car, because that’s the starting point. Then we focused on giving shape and muscle to it – but even then, it had to be carefully monitored. There is a lot of sculpture in this car but it’s well controlled, I think.”
Q: You’ve already confirmed a ‘GT’ Mach-E is on the way. Is there scope to make that car look more aggressive?
A: “For sure. We’ve said with this car that we’ve added some Mustang spice to it. There’s plenty of spice left that we can still add, I promise.”
What do you think of the new Ford Mustang Mach-E? Is it worthy of the nameplate? Let us know below…
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