10 November 2023

Yes it’s a Mustang, but not really

| Paul Gover
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A Mustang Mach-E

The Mach-E works well as a family-focussed electric SUV. Photo: Supplied.

The Ford Mustang was one of the original 1960s American ‘pony cars’, famous for their V8 muscle and two-door coupe looks.

Now the Mustang has gone new-age, green and electric in one of the most fundamental changes in the history of the car.

The Mach-E is not even a coupe. Instead, Ford has re-purposed the Mustang as a new-age electric family car with SUV looks and a choice of three battery-electric power packs.

It promises up to 600 kilometres of driving range for the mid-level Mach-E and V8-style performance with the dual-motor GT model which sells from $107,665 before on-road costs.

Straight up, the Mach-E works well as a family-focussed electric SUV. It’s pitched straight at the Tesla Model Y and the Polestar 2 and, with that sort of opposition, it should be popular with shoppers.

But it’s definitely not a ‘real’ Mustang for traditional ’stang buyers, although some will likely drive a Mach-E into the garage alongside a V8 coupe to tick all the boxes for travel in 2023.

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The arrival of the Mach-E in Australia signals a few things: the start of the mainstream move to electric cars in the Ford family, a shift in SUV priorities, and the expansion of the Mustang ‘brand’.

The Mach-E was originally considered as a replacement or stablemate for the Ford Explorer but was quickly identified as a good way to get extra sales, and followers, for the Mustang. So it got Mustang front and rear styling changes, as well as the ‘pony’ ’stang badge on the steering wheel.

In future, Chevrolet is expected to do something similar for its Corvette – a four-door version of its most-famous coupe and perhaps even something SUV with off-road ability.

The Mach-E is a good looker and has a lot to recommend it, based on a first drive of the newest Aussie Mustang.

It’s roomy and comfortable, with space for a modern family, and is well priced with a sub-$90,000 starting price. Of course, if you want all the go and show then it will mean spending more than $100,000 on the GT.

The sweet spot, as always, is the mid-level Premium car from $91,665 with a single electric motor and more than 600 kilometres of range. It also has traditional rear-wheel drive, like the old-school Mustang, with all-wheel drive reserved for the GT.

The visuals for the Mach-E clearly tie it to the Mustang coupe, but the driving experience is all about a lifestyle SUV. It is quiet and quick in all forms, with obvious extra punch in the GT with the ability to go quickly with safety.

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It’s closest in execution to the Model Y, with the Tesla providing more interior and boot space. Still, the Mustang has a trendy ‘vertical’ infotainment screen, plenty of cup holders and USB outlets, and a wireless charging pad for phones.

The car drives nicely, is benign and swift, as well as quiet and smooth riding. It even has a hint of V8 thanks to some artificial engine noise in the cabin, and the standing-start performance of the GT is even quicker than a V8 coupe.

So it’s a Mustang, but not as we’ve known it, and that means it’s going to be a very personal decision for people who have one on the shopping list. Some people will love it, and it makes sense for Mustang followers who need something practical for a family, but it is going to take a major mind shift for most people.

Ford Mustang Mach-E

  • Position: electric SUV
  • Price: from $79,990
  • Engine: 4.0-litre flat six petrol
  • Power: 198W/430Nm
  • Transmission: single speed, rear-wheel drive
  • Plus: a good electric SUV
  • Minus: not a traditional Mustang
  • THE TICK: worth a good look
  • Score: 7.5/10

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