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Driven: 2023 Ford Mustang Mach-E (with BlueCruise). Image by Ford.

Driven: 2023 Ford Mustang Mach-E (with BlueCruise)
Does the Mach-Es ground-breaking technology keep it among the best electric SUVs on the market?

   



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2023 Ford Mustang Mach-E (with BlueCruise)

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The Ford Mustang Mach-E has had a mixed reception, atoning for its questionable name and stiff ride with lively handling and solid technology. Although it's flawed, it has long been among the most convincing electric cars on sale, but Ford has given it even more of a USP with its new BlueCruise feature, which is the first 'hands-off' driver assistance system certified for use in the UK. But is that enough to keep the Mach-E up there with the best of them?

Test Car Specifications

Model: 2023 Ford Mustang Mach-E Premium AWD (with BlueCruise)
Price: 66,955 as tested
Motor: Two electric motors
Transmission: single-speed automatic, all-wheel drive
Battery: 98kWh (gross); 91kWh (net)
Power: 351hp
Torque: 580Nm
Emissions: 0g/km
Range: 341 miles
0-62mph: 5.8 seconds
Top speed: 111mph
Boot space: 402 - 1,420 litres plus 81-litre 'frunk'

Styling

Although it wears the Mustang badge, the Mach-E is no sports coupe. Instead, it's an out-and-out family SUV, albeit one with a slightly sporty image, particularly in high-performance GT form. Most Mach-Es, however, look like fairly conventional family cars, aside from the strange moustache in place of a conventional grille. It isn't an ugly car by any means, but it certainly doesn't have the drama of the Mustang we all know and love. Even if it does have vaguely similar tail lights.

Interior

While Ford may have installed this new driver assistance technology, the company hasn't made any changes to the car's interior - or at least no changes of note. As before, it has a pretty clean dashboard dominated by a massive portrait-orientated touchscreen and a widescreen instrument display behind the steering wheel. As is so often the way with Ford these days, there's a rotary gear selector.

Ford's in-car technology has improved of late, and the latest Sync4 system is indicative of how far the company has come. The old Sync2 system was pretty naff, the Sync3 system was much better and the Sync4 feels much more like a modern touchscreen should. We particularly like the way in which the volume control is integrated with the screen.

And that isn't the only good thing about the Mach-E's interior. It's also robust and well made, which makes it feel like a more premium product than you might expect from Ford. But then with prices starting at more than 50,000, you'd be pretty disappointed were that not the case.

Practicality

Although it wears the Mustang badge the Mach-E is a very different beast from the petrol-powered coupe with which it shares a logo. For a kick-off, it has back doors, and it sits much higher off the ground. And if you want to carry four adults, you can do it with relative ease. Better still, it has an SUV-sized boot, offering a total capacity of more than 400 litres. That isn't huge compared with some other electric SUVs, but it's more than you'll get in the back of a VW Golf, and it's a much more practical shape than the boot in a petrol-powered Mustang.

Performance

Although Ford has given the Mach-E a clever cruise control system, the basic powertrain options remain as they ever were. The cheapest cars come with a 75kWh battery (70kWh of which is usable) and a 269hp rear-mounted electric motor, but more upmarket versions get the 98kWh battery (91kWh of which is usable). That battery is offered with a choice of motor systems, including the 294hp rear-wheel-drive option and the two-motor, 351hp all-wheel-drive system. It also provides power for the twin-motor GT model, with 487hp.

Naturally, the least powerful of the 98kWh options is the most efficient, eking 372 miles of range from the battery and providing plenty of performance, with a 0-62mph time of 6.2 seconds. Our test car, however, was an all-wheel-drive model that claims to manage 341 miles on a charge. In the real world, that's enough for around 230 motorway miles, assuming you don't have feet made from lead.

Ride & Handling

Unsurprisingly, the latest Mach-E feels very similar to the previous iterations, with impressive handling credentials and a slightly firm ride, but when you get it on the motorway everything changes. You see, 95 per cent of the UK motorway network is a designated Blue Zone, in which the Mach-E can be driven completely hands-free.

Of course, that's an over-simplification. The BlueCruise system is the first level-two autonomy system to be certified for use in the UK, allowing the car to drive in a single lane of the motorway without the driver having their hands on the wheel or their feet on the pedals. But they still need to concentrate on driving, and they have to be able to take over at any minute. Start reading the paper and His Majesty's constabulary will start getting interested.

At first, though, you won't want to do other things while BlueCruise is activated, simply because it takes a while to build trust in the system. But after a few miles, it becomes apparent that the system is relatively competent. Admittedly, it doesn't always understand the nuances of lane positioning, preferring to stick to the centre of the lane where possible, but that's to be expected. By and large, it does a great job.

In traffic, though, its use is limited. The system can only do so much, and lane changes are the responsibility of the driver. As is navigation and every other task you'd normally be expected to complete. Nevertheless, it's a useful way of reducing the workload on longer journeys.

Value

Mustang Mach-E prices start at just under 51,000, which makes the Ford noticeably more expensive than a basic Skoda Enyaq. However, it does come with a sensibly sized 75kWh battery (70kWh net), and it's roughly on a par with the Audi Q4 e-tron in terms of price. And you get a reasonable amount of kit as standard, including the massive touchscreen. But this AWD Premium model we tested was considerably more expensive, at just under 67,000. And while the first three months of BlueCruise are included as standard, Ford is selling the system on a subscription basis, with customers paying a hefty 17.99 a month. It isn't cheap, considering you still have to concentrate on driving.

Verdict

The Mach-E remains flawed in some noticeable ways, but overall it's a very competent electric SUV. The addition of BlueCruise, however, feels like a bit of a gimmick, and we found ourselves using the system less and less as we spent more time with the car. Nevertheless, it's quite a clever system, and one that seems more dependable than some. It still isn't perfect, though, and it seems autonomous tech won't be fully embraced by customers until it's perfect, or at least very close to perfect.



James Fossdyke - 30 Nov 2023



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2023 Ford Mustang Mach-E (with BlueCruise). Image by Ford.2023 Ford Mustang Mach-E (with BlueCruise). Image by Ford.2023 Ford Mustang Mach-E (with BlueCruise). Image by Ford.2023 Ford Mustang Mach-E (with BlueCruise). Image by Ford.2023 Ford Mustang Mach-E (with BlueCruise). Image by Ford.

2023 Ford Mustang Mach-E (with BlueCruise). Image by Ford.2023 Ford Mustang Mach-E (with BlueCruise). Image by Ford.2023 Ford Mustang Mach-E (with BlueCruise). Image by Ford.2023 Ford Mustang Mach-E (with BlueCruise). Image by Ford.2023 Ford Mustang Mach-E (with BlueCruise). Image by Ford.








 

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