THINK of the Ford Mustang and it conjures up images of loud, powerful V8 muscle cars blasting their way down US highways, but the all-new Mustang Mach-E is a complete character transformation.
Firstly, instead of the sporty streamlining of the regular Mustang, the Mach-E is an SUV and secondly, it's the first production Ford developed from the ground-up to deliver pure-electric, zero emissions driving.
Priced from £41,330, the five-door, five-seater is available with either a 68kWh battery for standard range of up to 273 miles or an 88kWh battery for extended range of 335 miles, with the choice of a single motor on rear wheel drive cars or twin motors on the all-wheel drive versions.
When it comes to styling, the Mach-E may not look like a traditional muscle car, but it has plenty of the Mustang hallmarks with its long bonnet, signature lighting and iconic Pony badging. Open the front doors (via a push button rather than a handle) and the word ‘MUSTANG' is sitting proudly on the sills.
The interior is a classy affair with a Tesla-esque 15.5-inch portrait touchscreen - with pinch, zoom and rotate functions - being the main focal point.
But, unlike the Tesla, the Mach-E has the very basic driving information such as speed and range on a neat 10.2-inch screen behind the wheel so you need not take your eyes from the road.
The upright touchscreen is the main nerve centre and features Ford's latest SYNC technology that enables more than 80 vehicle settings to be customised from cabin temperature and seat position to ambient lighting. The clever technology learns from your day-to-day driving habits and favourite navigation routes. And it will get better with time as the system regularly receives over-the-air updates with the latest software improvements.
We tried the high-end Mach-E Extended Range model with all-wheel drive costing £57,030. This car could sprint to 62mph from a standing start in just 5.8 seconds and topped out at 111mph. With its larger battery pack, the driving range between charges is 335 miles.
This model is the real daddy of the Mach-E line-up and has styling to suit the role with black bumpers, a black front grille, privacy glass, 19-inch black alloy wheels and red brake callipers.
The interior is upmarket, clutter-free with heated front seats, a heated steering wheel, sporty black seats with red stitching and a chunky gear selector.
The acceleration from a standing start is impressive and the Mach-E easily copes with delivering short bursts of firepower to overtake slower moving vehicles.
On the country lanes, the road holding is nice and confident with minimal body sway into bends, and the cabin is very quiet as there is clearly no engine noise. You can select from three drive modes called Whisper, Active and Untamed (which is certainly more imaginative than Eco, Normal and Sport) and these alter the characteristics of the car and how it handles.
Untamed is for the more adventurous with sharper steering, enhanced throttle response and sporty orange lighting to add to the excitement. Whisper is for more sedate driving and Active is ideal for everyday use.
You can also control the sound within the car to match the performance via a Propulsion Sound feature that is activated on the touchscreen.
In addition, a one-pedal feature can be introduced and that increases the braking as you lift your foot off the accelerator. This is great for busy town centres with lots of stop start driving.
The Extended Range models also feature a Technology Pack as standard that introduces a 10-speaker Bang & Olufsen sound system with dashboard sound bar, a full panoramic roof, advanced active park assist and a number of extra safety features.
We also took a run in the Mach-E Standard Range with rear-wheel drive priced at Â£41,330 - increased to Â£42,480 due to the exclusive Star White paintwork. This model could complete the 0-62mph dash in 6.9 seconds and also maxed out at 111mph. The driving range on this car is 273 miles between charges.
Once again, this Mustang Mach-E was a pure delight to drive. The comfort levels are excellent with room in the back for three passengers and the driver visibility also impresses. It is expected that this model will be the best-seller here in the UK.
Storage options are good with a boot that can swallow 519 litres of kit, increased to 1,420 litres with the 60:40 split-folding rear seats dropped flat. There is also room for a further 81 litres of goodies beneath the bonnet, and throughout the cabin are front and rear cupholders, practical door bins, a glovebox, seatback pockets, a central cubby box and sunglasses compartment.
Although the Mach-E has not yet been tested for a Euro NCAP safety rating, it is packed with systems, including intelligent adaptive cruise control with stop and go and lane centring, pre-collision assist with automatic emergency braking, lane keeping assist with blind spot assist, distance alert, evasive steer assist and lots more besides.
Charging times will depend on the power source, but on a fast charger it takes 45 minutes to get from 10 to 80 per cent.
All in all, the Mach-E may not be a Mustang of old, but is a hint of what's to come with a view to a cleaner future. And if this is a true example, then the future looks pretty good indeed.
But, in the meantime, for the real thrill-seekers out there, a range-topping GT model, with a 0-62mph sprint time of just 3.7 seconds, is on the way soon.