Team Hutchinson Ford

Electric Pony’ – first drive of Ford’s Mustang Mach-E


As the automotive world’s unquenchable thirst for EVs and SUVs continues, Ford has evolved its treasured Mustang nameplate into something that sits perfectly into both segments.

The all-electric Ford Mustang Mach-E has finally landed on New Zealand shores and we got to drive it both on the road and around the race track.

The Mustang has been around for over five decades and has built up a huge and dedicated fanbase, so, it’s understandable that some people might feel a bit uneasy about the new all-electric SUV. However, not only does the Mach-E still manage to retain some of the Mustang’s iconic style traits, but it’s also still exceptionally fun to drive.

Ford NZ has launched with three specific Mach-E models to choose from. The base model RWD ($79,990 drive away) comes with a single electric motor (198kW/430Nm) and a 75.7kWh ‘standard battery’. The AWD ($109,990+orc) has a 98.7 kWh ‘extended battery’ and twin motors (258kW/560Nm). While the GT ($124,990+orc) also comes with the 98.7kWh battery and its twin motors offer a massive 358kW and 860Nm. And for those looking to make their RWD or AWD Mach-E stand out even more, an RTR kit, with special decals and tyres can be added for a cool $9k extra. 

The family-sized five-seater electric Mustang is in fact shorter than its 2+2 sibling (4.71m) but it’s taller (1.6m) too, and when it comes to ‘stang resemblance, the Mach-E has got a powerful long hood, distinctive rear haunches, and signature ‘tri-bar’ tail lights. Although the grille sports a pony, it’s now closed off (as there’s no big V8 engine behind it to keep cool anymore), and this, plus another few tweaks has improved the Mach-E’s aerodynamics which is now boasting a 0.3cd. 

The nameplate’s dramatic lines have been softened a bit, but it still looks bold and eye-catching, with a roofline that has a nice slope towards the rear. The electric tailgate opens up to plenty of luggage space (402L) and there’s a ‘drainable’ 100L of extra ‘frunk’ storage under the hood, ideal for those that shop small or want to fill it with ice and use it as a cooler.

The door handles have been replaced with an E-latch ‘push button’ system and the rear doors have been designed so you can’t trap your finger in them. The cabin itself is spacious and has a minimalistic vibe with plenty of light thanks to a full-length panoramic roof. There is a generous amount of upmarket materials on show such as contrast-stitched leather-like seats, faux carbon fibre accents, and a textured dash that acts as a modern interpretation of the model’s ‘double cowl’ dashboard, however, harder plastics are used below the beltline. 

The Mach-E’s huge 15-inch infotainment screen is hard to miss and this acts as the control centre for everything from the driving modes (whisper, normal and untamed) and propulsion sound to temperature and even a 10-speaker Bang and Olufsen sound system. Our models were ‘Irish spec’ so some of the apps were a little off (such as the navigation), but the list of driver and safety aids is extensive.

Continuing with the displays, Ford has replaced the regular Mustang’s big instrument cluster with a smaller 10.2-inch strip that gets straight to the point. You’ve got your speed, traffic sign recognition, a bird’s eye view of the car, and range—all displayed in a no-frills manner. It’s kind of like a head-up display, to be honest.

For the road test around Kingseat we were handed the keys to AWD with a standard battery (Irish spec), however it still displayed around 400km of range. Push button start and gear selection is done through a dial on the centre console. The visibility is better than a regular Mustang, especially through the rear glass, but the side mirrors could be a bit bigger considering the vehicle’s size. Despite sitting higher than in a regular Mustang, you still get that ‘muscle car’ feeling when you look out over the long hood and see those wide hips in the mirrors.

Acceleration is EV quick and the AWD claims of 0-100km/h are believable, what’s more, there is plenty of rear wheel bias, evident with a little rear wheel slip when pushed. The steering feels just right, and it becomes more responsive as you switch to different driving modes – the throttle pedal also responds accordingly. 1-pedal drive mode can be selected via the infotainment screen and is less aggressive than I assumed it would be, however, it will hold and not creep when stopped. 

Road noise is kept to a minimum, but there can be a bit of wind noise when you’re cruising at 100kmh on SH1. The ride is firm but comfortable, not bone-rattling, although the rebound in untamed can feel a bit jumpy (but hey, it’s a heavy vehicle weighing over two tonnes). And since it’s an AWD EV, the traction is great, although the roads remained dry throughout the day.

On the track 

Our next stop was at Hampton Downs for some speed and handling exercises to really put the Mach-E, notably the GT and RTR through its paces. A high-speed slalom, followed by a 90km/h lane-change swerve test and a drag race, ending with some track laps. 

‘Untamed’ was the mode of choice and it really lets the electric pony stretch its legs. Zero to 100km/h in the GT is noted down as 3.7 seconds and it’s brutal. The slalom had the Mach-E’s tail wagging like an excited puppy and tyre squeal was a given, but at no point did the Mach- E ever feel like it was going to spin. A slight ease off the accelerator and everything just fell back in line, it’s mind-blowing.

Same went for the lane change exercise, a sprint to 90km/h and then off the power, the sharp right and left through the cones had the rear step out well, but it was all so controlled. We swapped between the more sporty looking RTR and the GT with both offering similar experiences, just the GT doing it with more vigour. 

Enthusiastic track laps ended the day but we all came away with sore faces – the Mustang Mach-E is a fun and thoroughly entertaining ride, not your normal EV that’s for sure.

The Mustang Mach-E definitely feels different from its low-slung sibling. The cabin is roomier and less cramped, with better visibility. The handling and response have their own unique characteristics too, but amazingly, it still manages to retain that unmistakable Mustang experience. You still feel the power, even in its electric form, and that sense of muscle is ever-present. It’s still a fun car to drive on the road – but better on the track. 

Written by Dave Mcleod

Published on EVS and Beyond



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