A bloke is taking a photo of the Ford Mustang Mach-E.
As he sees me walking across the car park towards it he pipes up: “This is the first one of these I’ve seen, mind if I have a good look?”
I explained this was the only one in the country and that I was testing it for this newspaper.
We chatted and he said he had a Mustang V8 convertible.
There are many who think Ford’s decision to badge its first bespoke and all-new electric vehicle as a Mustang was verging on sacrilege. But the only badges you’ll see on this car are on the window glass, a discrete horse on the tailgate and one on what would be the radiator grille.
I think the fact an owner of a ‘traditional’ Mustang finds this EV newcomer of great interest indicates Ford might have made the right call.
The Mach-E will be available in different forms. We’re testing the all-wheel drive version fitted with two electric motors and an extended range battery.
Also available is a rear-wheel drive only model with either the 99kWh extended range as an option or the standard 76kWh.
Then there’s the First Edition that’s technically the same as ours (the extended range battery is standard) but which has extras such as a panoramic sunroof and the option of exclusive Grabber Blue paint – a traditional Mustang colour.
Finally, coming later in the year is the GT with 487bhp and sporty and unique body styling.
Apart from the rear lights there’s no really obvious link to the Mustang as we know it.
It’s a bit hard to classify the Mach-E. Our car is more crossover than SUV – somewhere between Jaguar’s popular and excellent I-Pace and the Audi e-tron Sportback.
The Mach-E is slightly longer, wider and taller than the Jaguar but weighs about 100kg less. The two-wheel drive version is an even more creditable 1,900kg and might be the nicest one to drive.
Now what about range? With the extended range battery this car will manage 337 miles from a full charge – but the 2WD model will cover 380.
Not even a Tesla can beat that – and our car’s range is far better than the I-Pace, the Audi e-tron or the Mercedes-Benz EQC.
Inside the Mach-E we have a large Tesla-like infotainment screen which is hard to use on the move, especially over bumps.
Unlike Tesla, Ford still gives you plenty of old fashioned buttons, switches and stalks – rather out of place in a £57,030 car but which will be less offensive in a £40,300 entry-level Mach-E.
Some of the trim and plastic materials are not top quality either – the leather looks plastic.
Although Ford has clearly tried to make the Mach-E as sporty and Mustang-like as possible, it hasn’t compromised on space.
Five will fit comfortably, with a nice flat floor for the passenger in the middle rear seat. The boot holds 402 litres with the seats up and 1,420 litres folded flat.
There’s also 100 litres of storage up front under the bonnet.
You’d be very naive to expect the Mach-E to feel remotely like an American muscle car to drive. All Mach-Es except for the GT are limited to 111mph.
But our AWD ER does 0-62mph in 5.1sec which is about the same as a petrol-powered V8 Mustang.
You have a choice of three driving modes: Active, Whisper and Untamed.
None change anything dramatically, just accelerator response, brakes and steering. The noise generator is great though, the best I’ve found in an EV and makes the Mach-E sound like there’s something under that bonnet.
Perhaps not a V8 but certainly a muffled V6.
The handling is secure and there’s plenty of grip coming out of corners.
I suspect the lighter 2WD Mach-E might be the best one of all to drive – and with an extended range battery it costs a more affordable £49,980.
Ford has done a good job and it’s far better than I expected.
Its rather cheap looking controls and trim will for many customers be irrelevant when its reasonable price and excellent range on a charge are taken into account.
Ford Mustang Mach-E AWD Extended Range five-door crossover
Engine: Two electric motors, 99 kWh battery, 346bhp
0-62 mph: 5.1 sec
Range: 337 miles
Audi e-tron Sportback
Range for this money is only 190 miles.
Jaguar I-Pace S EV400
Jag’s ground-up design EV. Ford undercuts it dramatically on price and has more range.
Conventional like the Audi, very quiet like the Audi. Far better quality than the Mach-E but it can’t match the Ford for range.