Ford Focus Electric review

6 Sep, 2013 12:30pm Paul Bond

Ford Focus Electric car is late to the game. Can it keep pace with hi-tech rivals?

Verdict

2
Although the electric Focus is an important step for Ford, it won’t find many buyers in its current form. It doesn’t have its rivals’ range and practicality, yet costs more to buy. Plus, the handling has been compromised by the electric conversion. The Hybrid Mondeo is likely to be much more popular.

The Ford Focus Electric is the manufacturer's first pure electric production car. The Focus Electric has already been on sale in US showrooms for two years, but this is the first chance European buyers will get to try emissions-free driving in such a familiar five-door package.

Power comes from two packs of lithium-ion batteries: one stored under the rear seats and one in the boot. Together they weigh 300kg, and give the Focus a range of around 100 miles for every full charge. Despite the extra bulk, straight-line performance is reasonably brisk, with the electric Focus recording a 0-62mph time of just 11 seconds and delivering its 250Nm of torque instantly.

In fact, there is so much pace, the steering wheel can squirm in your hands during acceleration. Top speed is limited to 85mph to preserve the battery, but you can reach and maintain motorway speeds without fuss and in near-silence.

However, unlike the standard model, the brakes feel grabby, and selecting the ‘L’ on the gearbox to maximise energy harvested by the brakes can make this Ford hard to drive smoothly around town. A key difference between the Focus EV and purpose-built electric models like the Renault ZOE and BMW i3 is obviously that the Ford wasn’t designed to carry large battery packs.

As a result, the suspension feels a lot firmer over bumps. The chassis does a reasonable job of coping, but you’re always aware of the added ballast over the rear axle. Recharging from a standard three-pin household plug takes around 10 hours, and the battery pack means that the boot shrinks from the standard 316 litres to a rather less practical 190 litres.

The interior is virtually identical to any other Focus’, apart from a set of unique dials. A single speedo is flanked by two smart digital screens that record your driving data and energy consumption. Standard kit is equivalent to a Titanium-spec Focus, so the high-performance Sony DAB stereo, and part-leather seats are included, but none of that is really enough to merit the £33,500 asking price. Even after the £5,000 Government electric car grant, that still makes the Focus roughly the same price as an i3 Range Extender – a model that’s lighter, better to drive and has a 200-mile range.

Disqus - noscript

Autoexpress summarises the obstacles this Ford faces rather well. It doesn’t have its rivals’ range nor practicality, yet it costs more to buy.
All (eco) eyes now turn to Volkswagen. What's VW gonna offer with electric powertrain? Can it do any better with its e-Golf and e-Up?

What were Ford sniffing when they decided how much they should charge?
BMW's noticeably faster and more practical carbon fibre built i3 is several thousand less.
What idiot would contemplate buying a less useful and poorer quality car for more money, particularly when it comes from a non premium brand?

It may be more expensive and less useful but is unlikely to be of lesser quality. BMW quality and reliability are only average, regardless of where they sit in the pecking order of manufacturers. The "premium" label is more about branding, advertising and marketing than the cars themselves. When are people going to wake up to this?

100 mile range? So you really wouldn't want to travel any more than 40 miles away from home. What a great buy.

UK government is pulling the plug on £5,000 grant on EV's, so electric vehicle sales like this will stall, something that only the very rich will be able to afford the very expensive Focus with no boot space in the UK.

Focus EV is the subject of a recall, thats under investigation in the US at the moment, A number of Focus owners have reported problems where the car has stalled cut out at speeds above 30 mph, and left the owner stranded.

Well worth paying a little bit extra for a quality BMW.

No good for a short break or a weekly shop to Tesco,

Nowhere to put a suitcase you would have to pack all the families gear in the wife's handbag because that all that will fit in the vey small boot.

A loaf of bread is all you would fit in the boot thats full of very expensive batteries on the weekly shop.

All the good information that you want to know is omitted by Ford, how much will the residual values drop like a brick & batteries cost + VAT to replace once they die half way though the cars life?

Totally agreed on what you say about residual values. Would prefer Renault's battery hiring strategy which addresses degrading battery life or charge holding capacity problems...

Same price and same range as rivals. Rubbish review.

Key specs

  • Price: £28,500 (inc £5k grant)
  • Engine: Synchronous electric motor
  • Power: 143bhp
  • Transmission: Single-speed automatic, front-wheel drive
  • 0-62mph: 11.0 seconds
  • Top speed: 85mph
  • Range: 100 miles
  • CO2: 0g/km (tailpipe)
  • Equipment: DAB, reversing camera, satellite navigation
  • On sale: Now

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