I love driving the Ford Mustang Mach-E — but I miss this one thing

ford mustang mach e in red in a parking lot
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There’s a neat trick in the Ford Mustang Mach-E that lets you choose a ‘propulsion’ sound for your new EV. Depending on the drive mode you’ve got selected, this option lets you choose a manufactured engine noise — which is actually pretty cool. 

Naturally, this being part of the Mustang family, the best one to go for is the Untamed option. That delivers a cool burble that becomes a lot more noticeable as you press the accelerator pedal.

It’s a quirky touch that harks back to what some folks consider to be the ‘proper’ Ford Mustangs, especially the pick-of-the-crop cars with their gas-powered V8 engines. It had the same effect on me as I drove around dark country lanes in the middle of nowhere during the early stages of winter. In fact, the Mach-E and its faux engine noises left me wanting an old school, eight-cylinder Mustang more than ever.

I’d better get a move on though, as the writing is on the wall for combustion-engined gas-guzzlers. If governments are to be believed (though they’re usually not) it’s soon going to be game over for any vehicle that burns some kind of fossil fuel. This is despite the fact that modern cars have become so efficient that many sip truly-miserly amounts of fuel as they take us from A to B.

While the Mustang Mach-E is one of the best electric cars around, with its big and ballsy battery power, does the all-electric Mustang Mach-E provide the same level of thrill as one of Ford’s yesteryear classics? 

Ford Mustang Mach-E: The great

red ford mustang mach-e recharging

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That bogus burble is actually just one of many good bits about the Ford Mustang Mach-E. While purists might still think that this bulky BEV really isn't true to its sports car roots, there are a lot of cool things on show in and around the SUV. 

There’s a decent amount of power for starters, around 350 horsepower in the extended range all-wheel-drive model I’ve been driving. The beefier battery gives it a theoretical range of around 270 miles, although the reality is less than that, as you’d expect. And, this being a Ford, there are plenty of neat features that add a great level of practicality to the Mach-E too. 

A fine example of this is the QuickClear heated windshield, which is a blessing in winter for getting rid of frost, snow and condensation prior to a journey. No scraper needed here and a definite highlight for an autumnal evaluation, as were the heated steering wheel and seats. 

red Ford Mustang mach-e from the rear

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Before you get comfortable inside though, there are various ways of gaining entry to the Mach-E. You can use the key fob, your phone or the keypad option to gain access, which involves tapping in your unique code on the driver’s doorframe.

While this isn’t a new feature on Ford autos it is a great one, especially if you want to do something outside the car and don't want the hassle of having your keys or phone with you. Say you go for a run, as an example; you can leave everything in your Mach-E and then tap in the code to open the door when you get back.

The same goes for the brilliantly simple and surprisingly intuitive door buttons and handles. Once you get the gist of these you’ll never want to go back to old-school latches.

Another great idea is the way the frunk has been designed. This is the extra storage area you get under the hood, which is one of the unique benefits of not having a combustion engine taking up the same space. Ford pulled a neat trick with its latest Puma, having a storage box in the trunk that could be used as a cooler. The same goes for the Mustang Mach-E, with a compartment under the hood that comes complete with a drain hole that does much the same thing.

Ford Mustang Mach-E: The good

ford mustang mach-e logo in red

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In fact, the more time you spend with the Mustang Mach-E the more it gives. Driving it is certainly easy enough, with a dial on the center console that lets you select drive mode. And, as is the case with most EVs, the press-and-go simplicity of the accelerator pedal is made all the more enjoyable by the regenerative setup that allows you to both speed up and slow down with one foot. 

Sure, there’s not so much work involved here, unlike driving an older Mustang, but the overall effect is impressive. The Mach-E is pretty comfortable too, with chunky seats that are great for longer runs. There’s plenty of on-board tech too, most of which comes via Ford’s SYNC 4 system and is accessed via the big 15.5-inch central infotainment screen. 

ford mustang mach- touchscreen display and volume dial

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Newcomers to large in-car touchscreens are always a little nervous about how much of a distraction they’ll be, but it’s actually surprising just how quickly you grow accustomed to it. Nevertheless, the Ford Mustang Mach-E does subject you to lots of touchscreen tedium; the needless and often distracting fiddling that you have to do because you haven't got real buttons to tweak as you drive.

I’ve nothing against touchscreens for a lot of features and functions, and they provide you with a much better opportunity to take a deeper dive into what the car’s systems can do. Basic functions, however, still work best with buttons. Case in point is the big volume button at the foot of the Mach-E’s screen; it’s a real lifesaver.

Ford Mustang Mach-E: The bad

ford mustang in red low profile

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However, while the Ford Mustang Mach-E does qualify as one, the term SUV doesn’t mean that it’s a true sport utility vehicle. Central to this issue is the ground clearance, which isn’t even that great for a regular car. It’s even less impressive if you’re hoping to head anywhere off-road, intentionally or otherwise. That said; it does help with the handling, as the Mach-E is quite a tall vehicle.

In fact, heading around single-track country lanes I was keeping everything crossed in the hopes that I wouldn't meet anyone coming the other way. The ground clearance (5.7inches/14.5cm) is pretty minimal, so any reversing into the darkness meant I could quite easily have beached the car on a verge as the wheels dipped into a rut or drainage ditch.

red ford mustang mach-e with door open revealing battery in floorpan

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This is presumably because the car has its batteries designed to sit in the bottom of the floorpan. You can see evidence of this when you open the doors too. Ford has done a neat job in disguising this, and when the doors are shut the external bodywork covers everything up. Open a door though and you can see evidence of the battery location looming large.

Our Mustang Mach-E came with chunky and fairly high profile tires though, which helped somewhat when going over ruts and potholes. The fact that the car still felt a little skittish left me wondering how folks with lower profile rubber would fare on the same country lanes. Still, if that’s the worst I can say about the Mustang Mach-E then Ford has nothing to worry about.

 Ford Mustang Mach-E: The ugly 

red ford mustang mach-e side profile in parking lot

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It’s easy to see why Ford Mustang aficionados might feel a little aggrieved that this car has the same name and badge that has graced millions of editions of its smaller and decidedly sportier relatives. There are hints of its past, particularly with those taillights that have more than a whiff of the Mustang heritage. 

More unkind commentators might say that this is just a bloated EV, which is too overweight and bulky to ever be a true part of the Mustang family. The Mach-E turns heads though, which is reasonably rare these days. Maybe it’s the badge people spot and it rings a bell. I certainly didn’t get any abuse, and that’s much the same experience you get when you drive a ‘proper’ Mustang.

Bottom line

ford mustang logo on red car

(Image credit: Rob Clymo/Tom's Guide)

Indeed, get behind the wheel of one of those classic Mustangs and you get smiles, waves and displays of genuine affection. A few years back, on a highway in Bavaria, I had a smiling German postal worker toot his horn and point to the yellow-ness of my 2016 Mustang while comparing it with his similarly colored van. He looked genuinely pleased to have made the connection.

Whether or not the Ford Mustang Mach-E will ever achieve the same levels of adulation remains to be seen. It might not have a V8 either, but it is a great car, even if the manufactured engine noise seems a little bit at odds with what it is. 

For me though it just underlines what a transformation we’re going through. If I’m going to own a car with a no-frills, no hybrid, no-nonsense V8, Mustang or otherwise, then I’d better hurry before they’re all consigned to museums and the history books.