Ford Mustang Mach-E electrifies the pony car

Leave the name – Mustang Mach-E – to one side for a moment, as this is clearly going to be one hell of a car.

For a start, it’s electric, the first of 14 electrified Fords launching between now and the end of 2020.

None of this mild-hybrid stop-gap nonsense; it’s fully electric, with an anticipated range of up 600km (370 miles).

It’ll be offered in two versions: the standard range model features a 75.7 kWh battery mounted in a watertight, liquid-cooled, crash-protected enclosure in the floor, made up of 288 lithium-ion cells that have been tested to -40 degrees C.

That’s expected to be enough juice for a 450km (280 mile) range with 0-62mph acceleration of ‘less than 8 seconds’ thanks to a 258hp, 415Nm permanent magnet electric motor driving the rear wheels.

The extended range version boasts 376 cells for a 98.8 kWh capacity, slightly more power at 285hp, and that headline-grabbing 370-mile range.

But there’s also an all-wheel-drive version that applies torque to the front and rear wheels independently, with Ford saying they’ve optimised the system not just for on-road use, but also traction in slippery conditions such as snow.

The extended range AWD model sacrifices some of its range (down to 540km, 335 miles) but its 337hp and 565Nm make up for it with a 0-62mph time of ‘less than 7 seconds.’

If that’s still not enough for you, there’s a performance GT version arriving in Summer 2021.  Its 465hp and incredible 830Nm of torque are expected to give it a sub-5 second 0-62mph time.

By now, you can perhaps see why Ford of Europe’s President, Stuart Rowley, described it as “one of the most exciting vehicles Ford has ever introduced.”

It’ll be quick to recharge, too, with the company offering a Ford Connected Wallbox for home charging that adds 38 miles of range every hour, although a standard mains connection can still be used at 9 miles per hour.

Using the FordPass Charging Network owners can recharge on the go using a unified FordPass app, while the growing Ionity network offers 150 kW fast-charging – enough to deliver 57 miles of range in just 10 minutes, or reach 80% capacity in around 38 minutes.

The clever bit is that the car’s built-in navigation will feature up-to-date information on charger locations and can suggest the most convenient stops along a route.

That’s just one of a variety of functions Ford has enabled via the built-in modem.

A new generation of SYNC infotainment system makes its debut on the Mach-E, with a giant 15.5-inch touchscreen that takes the place of many traditional controls.

The system learns your habits, for instance, calling home as you leave work, if that’s something you do regularly, while phone-as-key technology means you don’t even need to reach for the key fob to unlock it.

It also responds to voice instructions, offers wireless CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity, and receives secure over-the-air updates to add new features over time.

There’s new thinking elsewhere in the interior, too.  The floor console is designed to accommodate a pair of smartphones, one of which can be charged wirelessly, while the speakers of the premium B&O sound system are hidden across the dashboard, above the air vents.

Up front, under what would normally be the bonnet, there’s a 100-litre ‘front trunk’ that incorporates a drain, making it perfect for muddy boots, while the rear boot offers 402 litres of space increasing to an estate car-rivalling 1,420 litres with the seats folded.

The optional panoramic glass roof features not just an inner layer to guard against UV but also a special coating with infrared protection to keep the cabin cooler in summer.

But for all this practicality, Ford has been careful not to forget about the drive.  There’s a hint that the company’s engineers have had some fun with this in the name of the three drive modes – Whisper, Engage and Unbridled.  Each goes further than on most cars, altering not just throttle response and steering assistance levels, but also changing ambient lighting, cluster animations, and even the sounds.

Brembo’s new Flexira aluminium brake callipers are there to make sure the Mach-E stops as well as it goes, while the MagneRide adaptive suspension should ensure ride quality doesn’t suffer in the quest for road-holding.

As a statement of intent, this is all incredibly impressive.  That this is Ford’s first real fully-electric car is, frankly, amazing.

But the question still remains: is it a Mustang?

There are certainly plenty of styling cues that hark back to the original – the double-cowl dashboard fascia, the tri-bar tail-lights, and the purposeful rear haunches, for example.

In 1969, Ford launched the Mustang Mach 1 to tempt younger buyers who felt the GT moniker was perhaps a little old hat for them.

With the packaging advantages that come from an SUV, and people’s apparently unquenchable thirst for them, it perhaps makes sense that this should be the starting point for a modern reinvention not just of the Mustang, but also the Ford Motor Company itself.

The Mustang Mach-E will arrive in late 2020, with the high-performance GT in summer 2021.

Pre-orders are open now with prices starting at £40,270 for the rear-wheel-drive model, £46,570 for the AWD version, and £58,000 for the high-performance GT.