The Focus is one of the biggest selling cars in the world. Electric cars are growing in popularity by the day. Combine the two things to create an all-electric Focus and you’ve got a star car on your hands surely?
It hasn’t exactly worked out that way. Ford hasn’t had much experience with hybrid powertrains – let alone full electric cars – so the brand has been cagey about going all-out with the Focus Electric.
That’s crazy considering the size and influence of a company like Ford. As it was, the original all-electric Focus was used by Ford as a testbed to see what it was capable of. A small number of models – around 50 – were sent out to some company fleets and very few have reached the hands of private motorists.
With such restricted availability, only the most committed will ever get chance to drive it, but is it even worth the effort? Here’s what the UK motoring press think…
Auto Express (AE) wasn’t bowled over, awarding it three out of five stars. In its petrol or diesel guise, they praise the Focus as one of the best handling and most enjoyable to drive family hatchbacks money can buy.
However, AE feels that switching it to full electric has tarnished driver engagement, making the car feel stodgy and stiff. And that’s the main beef with the Focus Electric: it isn’t fun.
Nor is it as practical as the conventional Focus because boot space is reduced with the batteries hogging more room than they probably should.
It’s expensive too. Not to run, but to actually get hold of in the first place with a £31,625 asking price far outstripping that of the £26k Nissan Leaf.
But once it’s acquired, there are cost benefits to be enjoyed such as free road tax and exemption from the London congestion charge. For company car drivers, a 20 per cent taxpayer will pay £569 annually, which is much more favourable than £1,332 for a two-litre diesel Focus.
Sadly, the Focus Electric’s plummeting value and dreadful depreciation means that the employer will be saddled with much of the burden, forking out thousands of pounds for a green corporate image.
Visually, there aren’t many clues that hint to the electric nature of this Focus. If you fail to spot the badges on the front doors and rear hatchback or the circular flap on the front wing that hides the charging socket, you’d think this was any other Focus.
It doesn’t sound like any other Focus though. AE praises its ‘whisper-quiet’ and refined drive, remaining ‘calm and relaxed all the way up to motorway speeds’.
The electric powertrain comprises a 33.5kWh battery pack powering a 107kW electric motor, which is the same as a 143bhp petrol engine. It can hit 62mph in 11.3 seconds and AE reckons it feels a lot faster due to the instant torque of the electric motor. It won’t go much faster than motorway speeds though, with a top speed of 86mph.
Carbuyer.co.uk agrees with AE’s ‘lack of fun’ accusation, claiming that the electric Focus is ‘a far less rewarding car to drive than the petrol or diesel powered versions’.
It takes issue with the significantly firmer suspension (the result of weighty batteries), which has scuppered ride quality with lumps and potholes now more noticeable.
These batteries reduce what would usually be a 316-litre boot to 237 litres; a point which didn’t impressive Carbuyer much.
The Focus Electric is further evidence that merely bolting electric workings into a pre-existing petrol car doesn’t always result in a great electric car.
VW’s eGolf got away with it but cars like the BMW i3 and Nissan Leaf were built from the ground up as electric and that’s why they work so well.
For now, perhaps it’s just as well you can’t really get hold of a Focus Electric…