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The Mach-E closely matches the Porsche Macan in height.Courtesy of manufacturer

Let’s all just agree to move on, shall we? Put aside your outrage that Ford appended the Mustang name to a utility vehicle – an electric utility vehicle, at that. It’s done, it’s here, and we’ve driven it. Get over it.

Setting aside whether it’s a real Mustang or not, what else is the Mach-E? Well, it’s a bit of a hybrid – not in its powertrain but as an automotive species. It has four-doors and a lifting tailgate, which suggests an SUV, except its silhouette is more like a coupe. It’s also lower to the ground than typical SUVs, but not low enough to convince us it’s a station wagon (although, curiously, the government lists it under “Station wagon” in its Fuel Consumption Guide) .

Let’s call it a SUV coupe, like the BMW X4 or, especially, the Porsche Macan. The Mach-E closely matches the baby Porsche in height, and with a length (4.7 metres) that positions it towards the larger end of the compact SUV category.

It may be a plebeian Ford compact SUV-ish kinda thingy, but being all-electric pushes the Mach-E’s pricing way beyond a Ford Escape. It starts at $50,495 (too high to get the federal ZEV incentive) for the Select trim with the standard-range battery and a single motor driving the rear wheels. The full-line-up mixes and matches up to four trims, 68- or 88-kWh battery packs, and single-motor/RWD or dual-motor/AWD configurations. Power outputs range from 198 to 358 kW, and claimed range ranges from 340 to 483 km. You pays your money and you takes your choice.

The driver’s seat needs a better range of adjustment.Courtesy of manufacturer

Ford also claims the extended-range (ER) battery can be recharged from 10 to 80 per cent in about 45 minutes on a Level 3 DC charger, or to put it another way, can recoup 100 km of range in about 10 minutes.

You’ll only find three trims to choose from on the Ford website, as the First Edition is already sold out, and the range-topping GT Performance Edition will be a late arrival. That $50,495 base Select trim limits your options to RWD or, for $3,500 extra, AWD. If you want the extended-range battery you have to start with the Premium trim, which upsells you to $65,745, including the $7,000 battery upgrade. That’s how our test sample came.

Alternatively the California Route 1 starts at $63,745 with the big battery standard, but RWD only.

So, $50,000 plus for a Ford? Actually, that’s not as nuts as it seems. Three of the four Ford Explorer models ask more than $50,000, for example, as do most configurations of Canada’s top-selling vehicle by far, the F-150. The top-trim F-150 starts just under $90,000 and Ford sells truckloads of them.

If you switch the drive mode selector into Unbridled you even get fake 'engine noise'.Courtesy of manufacturer

Of course, nobody who’s OK with driving a gas-guzzling pickup is likely to be interested in an electric vehicle. If you do see an EV in your own future, however, how could you possibly ignore this new offering from a mainstream manufacturer? $50,549 for the base model isn’t really such silly money these days; you’d pay about $7000 more for a base four-cylinder Porsche Macan with less power and less utility. A $71,000 Mach-E Premium ER AWD is faster than, say, an Audi e-tron, and can go farther on a charge, for about $15,000 less. A long-range Tesla Model Y claims more range for about the same price as the Mach-E, but what about Tesla build quality?

There’s a lot more still to be discovered about the Mach-E, but our first taste of the Premium ER AWD model revealed a stylish new alternative that’s quick, quiet, fun to drive, practical, and for the right price, can deliver more driving range than anything short of a Tesla. Ride quality, however, could be better, and the driver’s seat needs a better range of adjustment. As for that puny little screen that passes for an instrument pan, you may like it. And I’ll get over it.

Tech Specs

There is however, a sizeable lift-over at the rear – more hatchback-like than SUV-ish.Courtesy of manufacturer

2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E Premium ER AWD
  • Price: $58,745 base/$70,045 as tested
  • Motor: Dual electric, total 258 kW
  • Transmission/drive: One-speed/e-AWD
  • Fuel consumption (Le/100 km): 2.4 city/2.8 hwy
  • Alternatives: Audi e-tron, Jaguar i-Pace, Tesla Model Y, Volvo XC40 Recharge

Looks

If you can live with the “blanked out” grille typical of EVs, you have to admit it’s a looker – or at least, as much of a looker as any SUVoid vehicle can be. The GT’s “grille” is black instead of body colour, which helps. Note also how the black finish of the rear roofline gives the impression the silhouette is swoopier than it actually is.

Interior

The free-standing 10.2-inch digital screen.Jeremy Sinek/The Globe and Mail

You’d better like screens. Besides a large Tesla-esque 15.5-inch vertical mainscreen – which even this button-loving Luddite has to admit was user-friendly – the main gauge cluster is a shallow, free-standing 10.2-inch digital screen. The latter, to our eyes, looks like a tacked-on afterthought. Our other main gripe: even on the Premium trim the driver’s seat is only six-way (not counting lumbar) adjustable – two ways too few, in our view. The PRNDL selector is a rotary knob set well back on the centre console, leaving ample space for a large storage tray and side-by-side cupholders. The rear cabin is more than respectably roomy for the size of vehicle, but while my adult-male limbs appreciated the thigh support provided by the ramped seat cushion, little people may feel differently.

Perfomance

Ford’s claimed 0-60-mph (0-96-km/h) times range from 6.1 seconds for the slowest configuration (extended-range RWD) to 3.5 for the GT Performance Edition, with the ER AWD we sampled falling plumb in the middle at 4.8 seconds. That’s pretty quick, although, as with most EVs, you sense the torque is dialled back somewhat on initial launch to maintain traction. The real neck-snap is in passing acceleration. Stamp on the right pedal at 80 or 100 km/h and, wow, hold your horses! If you switch the drive mode selector into Unbridled (yes, that’s what they call it) you even get fake “engine noise”. It’s an attractive sound, like a refined V8, but it also sounds like a conventional ICE powertrain stuck in one gear. Maybe they should synthesise fake gear-changes too. On country lanes, I’d have liked keener steering response on-centre, but once you get past that initial mush, the steering comes alive and delivers the quick, taut agility you’d expect from a sporty Ford. In Unbridled you even sense some potential waggly-tail rear-wheel drive bias. Too bad, though, that the entertaining handling comes at the expense of a stiff, fidgety ride.

Technology

The 15.5-inch vertical mainscreen.Jeremy Sinek/The Globe and Mail

You’d hardly expect a new EV from Ford to be anything less than tech rich. Here that includes the latest versions of Ford’s Co-Pilot360 driver-assist suite, right up to a prep package for Active Drive Assist, which will allow hands-free driving on 160,000 km of freeways in Canada and the U.S. Activation will be by over-the-air update next year. Also included is SYNC4A, the latest version of Ford’s infotainment/telematics system. The base 6-speaker audio includes SiriusXM radio, and a B&O nine-speaker-plus-subwoofer audio is available.

Cargo

Claimed cargo volume of 841 L seats-up and 1690 seats-down are a little below average for the size of vehicle, but there’s also a 133 L “frunk” that’ll take a fair-size cooler box, for example. Out back, a two-position cargo deck is a versatility bonus and in its upper setting creates a flush through-deck with the seats folded. There is however, a sizeable lift-over at the rear – more hatchback-like than SUV-ish.

The writer was a guest of the automaker. Content was not subject to approval.

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