Used Ford Mustang Mach-E long-term test: report 5

The Mustang Mach-E is an electric family SUV with a high-tech interior, but what's it like to live with and is it a good car? We're finding out...

New Toyota bZ4x vs Ford Mustang Mach-E vs Kia EV6

The car Ford Mustang Mach-E Standard Range RWD Run by Jim Holder, editorial director

Why it's here Ford’s first mainstream electric car needs to prove it can compete with the very best electric SUVs

Needs to Offer something more than its rivals – Ford is late to the electric party, so it's overdue a landmark EV

Miles covered 12,999 Price when new £42,530 Price when new with all options £42,530 Value on arrival £33,537 Value now £33,537  Official range 273 miles Test range 221 miles

29 July 2022 – Star gazing

Let’s talk about the elephant in the room: in a recent What Car? comparison test against the Kia EV6 and Toyota bZ4X, my Ford Mustang Mach-E comprehensively finished third and last, well behind its rivals with a two-star rating and what felt like a devastating verdict.

To quote, briefly: “There aren’t many electric cars we’d actively try to talk you out of buying but the Mach-E, sadly, is one of them. Few cars ride in such a disjointed manner, and the poorly resolved suspension saps the fun out of driving the car on any twisty road that isn’t perfectly smooth.” There were more negatives, chiefly around the relative speed it can take to charge and the eye-watering cost of PCP finance deals at present, but we can leave them for another day.

The vocabulary used to describe the Mach-E’s suspension left little to the imagination: “Light years behind”, “brutal” and “genuinely unpleasant” are just three of a litany of negatives. That this was compounded by “overly elastic steering” and “grabby, poorly judged brakes” only served to rub salt into the metaphorical wounds.

I’m not here to forgive the Mach-E; from my first weekend with it, I began to fear I'd made a mistake, because my kids (aged 12 and 14, so not especially experienced in the nuances of car testing) commented on how they could feel their bums shaking and necks snapping more than normal. Ranged against superior opposition, it really is a long way behind.

Ford Mustang Mach-E being driven

There is hope on the way, however, as back in May Ford itself unveiled a model year update with completely revised settings, acknowledging the problems of the rear pitching and dialling in a bit more suppleness to the ride.

For owners of my generation of car, though, it's about living with workarounds. While it doesn’t actually modify the suspension settings, Whisper mode (the softest of three configuration selectable on the display screen) dulls the accelerator and steering responses, which in turn means that any crashes, bangs or pitching doesn’t get exaggerated by your subsequent body movements. In addition, I would argue (unscientifically) that over thousands of miles you subconsciously learn to adapt, bracing your body fractionally, setting the steering and seating position to be a bit more laid back and so on.

As a result, my early, genuine doubts that I could actually, comfortably live with the Mach-E have eased. That doesn’t excuse its shortcomings, of course, nor mean we should gloss over them, not least as life would be better if Ford had done a better job and they weren’t there to need working around, but this week I’ve driven 300 miles in it, and this weekend I’ll do 500, and none of it with any trepidation.

Ford Mustang Mach-E driving

In that regard ignorance is bliss, too. By isolating myself in one vehicle rather than hopping back and forth between better ones, implementing workarounds and learning to cope with its shortcomings, I have found that life with a Mach-E can be okay. In a sense, I don’t know what I’m missing, and so I can live with what I have. Given the number of them on our road, feedback from some happy customers and generally excellent sales figures, it appears that many other owners are out there doing the same. 

Of course, our job is to recommend the best car you can buy for your money. My experience proves that you can learn to live with its shortcomings quite happily – but the quality of the opposition means that we’re unlikely to ever rush to recommend buying one.

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