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Mike Hagerty/Special to the Town Crier The new Ford Mustang Mach-E is not only fast, it also boasts a driving range of more than 200 miles.

The faithful howled when they heard the news.

“An SUV? An electric SUV? With a Mustang name? Sacrilege!”

Said faithful really aren’t. They’re the Mustang fans who think the Mustang EcoBoost isn’t a “real” Mustang because “real” Mustangs don’t have four-cylinder engines – even if those fours turn out 330 horsepower.

They’re the ones who’ll settle for the Mustang Bullitt but deep down want a Shelby GT 350R.

That ignores the Mustang’s history. Introduced to the public April 17, 1964, it was essentially a humble Ford Falcon with a sexier body and a wider choice of options. Yes, they were all two doors – coupe, convertible and, six months later, fastback. But Ford was considering a station wagon at one point.

Which brings us to the station wagon of the 21st century – the SUV. With Tesla’s Model Y strongly in its sights, Ford decided to mass produce an electric mid-size crossover. Sure, the company could have gone for a more generic look and called it the Futura, but admit it – you would have yawned.

Imbuing it with Mustang styling cues and calling it the Mustang Mach-E (a reference to the 1969 Ford Mustang Mach 1) got the world’s attention.

Now, the only question is – how good is it?

The answer? Really, really good.

Premium performance

Mustang Mach-Es can be had with several power and range options. The Select model promises 0-60 mph in 5.2 seconds and 230 miles of range. The California Route 1 model slows down a bit – 6.1 seconds to 60 mph – but ups the range to 305 miles. They’re both rear-wheel drive.

There’s a GT model coming later this year that should satisfy the speed-at-all-costs crowd, with a 0-60 mph time of 3.8 seconds. There also will be a GT Performance Edition that actually knocks another 0.3 seconds off the sprint to 60 mph – at 3.5 seconds. Of course, that comes at the expense of range, which dips to 250 miles. It’s all-wheel drive.

Our tester strikes me as the best of all possible worlds. The Premium is available as rear-wheel or all-wheel drive (ours was RWD), with a 0-60 mph time of 4.8 seconds and a range of 300 miles. That’s with the extended-range battery; 230 miles is standard.

The Mustang Mach-E is roomy, comfortable and not only goes quickly over long distances, it handles. Controls are intuitive, charging is quick on a DC fast-charging station, and the selectable drive experiences (Whisper, Engage and Unbridled) allow you to choose performance levels based on your mood.

Base price for the 2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E Premium rear wheel drive is $47,000. Standard at that price are a 15.5-inch center-stack color touchscreen and Ford Co-Pilot 360 including intelligent adaptive cruise control with speed-sign recognition.

The only option on our tester was the extended-range battery ($5,000), so with $1,100 destination and delivery charge, the as-tested price of the 2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E Premium RWD is $53,100.

Bottom line: The 2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E is, like the original Mustang, the right car for the time. It will address concerns motorists have about range, reliability and build quality. It takes Tesla’s minimalist attitude and improves on it with a vehicle that seems less … alien. That’s going to matter to Middle America.

This is my new favorite EV. It might even be my favorite Mustang. And the faithful will howl. Let ’em.

Mike Hagerty, vice president of membership for Western Automotive Journalists (waj.org), has been writing about cars since 1997. Read more of his reviews on his website (MikeHagertyCars.com) and follow him on Twitter (twitter.com/mikehagertycars) and Facebook (facebook.com/mikehagertywritesaboutcars).