The Ford Mustang Mach-E has been a long time coming for us Kiwis. First announced in 2019, it’s been on sale in the US and other markets since 2020. It was last year that Ford NZ finally announced its availability for our market, with the model range and pricing confirmed earlier this year. And after much build up, it’s finally here.
Mustang Mach-E is in NZ, finally
Ford NZ boss, Simon Rutherford, said while some 250 have already been sold, general awareness of the Mach-E is low. “It’s been too long between it being announced and it finally launching here. We need more of them on the road and then people will start to notice them. Nothing beats seeing one, and any time we’ve been out in them, people come up and ask ‘what’s this’, that’s what’s driving enquiry.”
How many they might sell depends on how many they get. “Now that Australia has come on board and other markets too, it’s harder” The initial allocation is sold, 60 per cent of those the entry level RWD model as people want the rebate. And you’re looking at about a three to four month wait if you haven’t already placed an order.
And why are they buying Mach-E? “They are looking to go electric but are looking for a good driving vehicle. We are finding many are existing SUV buyers as the Mach-E is spacious and capable.”
Is the Mach-E a Mustang?
It’s something we asked last year when we were in the US for the reveal of the new (V8-powered) Mustang. We also took a spin in the Mach-E and had a quick chat to Leeway Ho, engineering supervisor for the new model.
“We need to cover a range of customers with the Mach E,” he said. “At its most basic, it is a commuter vehicle but we have a performance GT model as well. It wasn’t necessarily about delivering the ultimate performance you might associate with Mustang, but rather the ‘spirit of freedom’ and enjoying the ride.
“While we tuned the ride and handling to be accommodating of five passengers and cargo, at the same time we wanted to cater to the sportier aspect of Mustang. It had to handle the twisties with confidence. The car in turns is very neutral, but you can step on the gas and you can get oversteer. It’s a very fun car. We definitely nailed the balance of everyday usability while still maintaining that Mustang spirit.”
Is the Mach-E a driver’s car?
After more time at the wheel of the Mach-E (and sitting on the right side of the cabin) yesterday on both road and track, we’d say ‘definitely’. We took to the road in the AWD model, and were suitably impressed. It has a decent ride quality on your typical bumpy back road, the fixed rate suspenders absorbing the punishment and remaining calm. It’s quiet too in terms of road noise. The performance you’d label perfectly adequate, it gets along briskly, the response crisp, better in the Untamed mode, the most sporting of the three (Whisper and Active the others). You can opt for a one pedal mode too, this working nicely on winding roads, slowing progressively for the bends when lifting off the gas. And when you do use the brake pedal, it’s smooth, rather than the usual snatchy nature of some other set ups. The steering is sorted too, well weighted and in touch with what’s happening.
Yes it’s heavy but that mass is low, and generally well controlled. There’s a bit of lean as it rounds into a bend, the SUV-esque rubber (225/55R19) squirming around, but then it settles and holds a line sweetly. And Ho is right; you can step on the gas as you round the bend and it’s not understeer you get but rather a helping hand from the rear, the stab of power helping rotate the car. This we re-confirmed on the track as we took the GT for a few runs through a slalom and laps of the Club Circuit. As long as you get the entry speed right, it remains rather neutral. Up the pace and add the volts, and the rear moves about to make for a lively drive. There’s understeer if you overcook the turn in, but it’s good fun trying to sort it out too.
The GT has more pep in its step, quicker throttle response and with better rubber and adaptive dampers, the dynamic responses are sharper too. It’s even more fun in the Untamed plus setting with the stability control stepped back a notch.
Is the Mach-E a practical family car?
Well yes, it’s an SUV afterall. The kids will love playing with the e-latch door releases, push the button and the door pops open, and they’ll find plenty of room in the back.
The boot is decent at a quoted 519L, and has the usual split folding to increase space. And there’s a long list of safety features, the Mach-E recently gaining a five star ANCAP rating.
Look for a full review in the July issue of NZ Autocar.