True blue: Ford Sierra RS Cosworth vs Mustang Mach-E

In contrast, the Mach-E has Ford’s latest Sync 3 system, which presents 80 vehicle settings via a giant touchscreen. Even standard sound systems today are better than the most expensive aftermarket ones back in the Sierra’s day. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto allow you to morph a mobile phone onto the dashboard, whereas a ‘briefcase’ mobile phone in 1986 would occupy most of the passenger compartment and just about make a call if you were lucky.

The Sierra’s interior is famously old-school Ford in that, apart from the bespoke Recaro seats, it’s cheaply made to look as good as possible. Since then, materials and manufacturing technologies have moved on, Ford has raised its game a long way and the Mach-E is lusciously finished inside.

Long-distance travel is no problem in the air-conditioned luxury of the Mach-E, while the only chance of staying cool in the Sierra is a sunroof, air vents and open windows. The Mach-E may be an SUV and the Sierra a mere family hatchback, but both have five seats and the luggage compartments aren’t dissimilar at 385 litres for the old car and 420 litres for the new one. Park the two side by side and the trend towards bigger and heavier cars since the 1980s is obvious to see. Which brings us to the driving experience.

The Sierra is smooth and easy to drive and, thanks to its light weight, its handling and agility through the switchback turns of the Scottish Borders set my heart fluttering with delight.

The steering is analogue and the change of direction predictable and linear, with natural feedback through the hydraulic power-steering rack. The Mach-E’s steering feels digital and synthetic by comparison – sharp and almost over-responsive. There’s a sense of piloting by wire rather than being directly connected to the road.

Even though its weight is masked by clever engineering and technology, the Mach-E feels colossal. Admittedly, Ford has done an impressive job of keeping the weight down: even with its large battery, this car weighs only marginally more than some ICE SUVs of a similar size. But while the Sierra sails over crests and effortlessly changes direction, he Mach-E feels less poised on these twisting, undulating roads.


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