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Is Ford's first ground-up full EV upmarket enough to take on premium rivals? We investigate an early left-hand drive version of the Mustang Mach-E to find out.
Seven airbags, emergency braking, forward collision warning and mitigation, evasive steer assist, lane keep and departure wanting, front and rear parking sensors and rear-view camera, one-pedal drive, dual-zone climate control, 10.2in driver display and 15.5in central touchscreen with Apple Carplay and Android Auto app links,
DAB radio, adaptive cruise control with lane centring, 19in alloys, 10-speaker B&O stereo, panoramic roof
346hp dual electric motor / 88kWh battery
Standard Range, Extended Range, First Edition
Aside from its none-too-fleet-focused limited edition 21st century GT supercar, Ford doesn't really do expensive or upmarket. Perhaps that's why the new Mustang Mach-E doesn't sport a single 'blue oval' badge. Instead it has the Mustang pony logo on its closed front 'grille' and steering wheel. That's an appropriate signifier most will understand, but for the first time in the Mustang's muscle car history, its power is fully-electric instead of petrol.
This Mustang is important for fleets too, as Business Car's editor Simon Harris puts it so eloquently in my brief, "the Mach-E is the first genuine director-level model from Ford in a long time that stacks up as a company car". That's because, despite its beefy 266-346hp power range and rapid acceleration (0-62mph in 5.1 seconds in the AWD Extended Range) the Mach-E's full-electric powertrain also guarantees a 0% BIK rating until April and only 1% for the next tax year. Its large electric range - 248-379 miles according to our version - and rapid recharge promise, 10-80% in 45 minutes makes it a practical proposition for most UK business journeys as well.
Ford is targeting 50,000 global sales in 2021, but a spokesman wouldn't say how many of those are earmarked for the UK from its spring launch; merely that 30% would likely go to business. Nor is it clear how many will be split between rear-wheel drive and all-wheel drive, or how many models will be Standard Range (266hp, 68kWh and 248 miles) or Extended (346hp, 88kWh and 379 miles). Either way, prices will start at £40,350 for the Standard Range RWD up to a very non-Ford £58,080 for the AWD First Edition. In late 2021, there's even a Mach-E GT that will crack 0-62mph in 3.7 seconds - quicker than most petrol supercars.
Meanwhile, the Extended Range AWD version we drove still felt incredibly rapid, able to get out of tight city traffic spots via an instant dab of the accelerator or equally out on the open road, leaving almost anything else in its wake (aside from other premium electric cars we encountered like the Porsche Taycan and Tesla Model 3). It also feels straightforward to control the Mach-E's power due to well-weighted steering, once the lane-centring safety feature within lane-keep assist is switched off, which is mercifully easy to do via a button on the steering wheel.
There are three mildly-amusing driving mode names - Whisper, Active and Untamed - which roughly translates to Eco, Normal and Sport, and despite the latter's 'Untamed' moniker, that mode actually has a level of brake regeneration that eases things back nicely when you lift off the accelerator.
These modes are easily accessed by pressing the Mach-E vehicle icon at the top left of the hugely impressive (and standard) 15.5in centre touchscreen. Within the same window, a further 'one-pedal driving' mode can be switched on for more brake regeneration if required. The screen's functions are quickly learned.
I was able to link and mirror my Apple iPhone in a minute and, once linked, found it even simpler to switch back to the Mach-E's in-house next-gen SYNC functions from a menu of large touchscreen tiles below the main display.
Such is the speed and reliability of the haptic response, the desire for actual buttons subsides pretty quickly. There is one large physical dial embedded in the lower part of the screen for volume, but this seems largely ornamental and aesthetically pleasing, rather than strictly necessary, given closer volume buttons on the steering column. Still, it's one of the best infotainment screens I've used and that includes Tesla's.
All else in the Mach-E is a masterclass of design restraint, from the small touch-sensitive door-opening buttons in the base of the exterior B and C-pillars, to the dark grey fabric-clad Bang & Olufsen sound bar stereo that stretches across the dashboard and looks lifted from a modern hotel room, rather than any previous Ford interior. It sounds great too. Rear knee and head room is decent and the hatchback boot with fold-flat rear seats creates lots of accessible luggage space (402/1420 litres) plus another 81 litres of (washable) space in the front luggage compartment too.
With this combination of performance, handling, design quality, plus real practical EV range and low tax, it's unsurprising that residual value experts at CAP HPI say it will retain 52.7% after 36 months or 30,000 (which could be a realistic EV three-year mileage). Director-level staff could do a lot worse.