What is it?
Ford’s first mainstream all-electric car comes with many of the usual compromises that buyers of purely electric models face: it’s expensive, it doesn’t go very far on a charge and, in the case of this Focus Electric, its boot has been part-annexed by the large, carpeted box that is the battery pack. But this Ford does advance the electric car in some important ways.
For instance, its on-board 6.6kW battery charger revives a depleted battery at twice the speed of the on-board 3.3kW charger in a Nissan Leaf, which allows you to fully recharge the Focus in about four hours rather than seven. And it also means that a quick burst of charging is more productive.
It’s useful, too, that its regenerative braking capacity is greater than the Leaf’s. Brake with a light right foot so that you don’t engage the hydraulic braking and you’ll maximise your energy regeneration at a more substantial rate than the Leaf can manage. So there’s a better chance of enjoying the 100 nominal miles that this car is capable of covering without seeing a socket.
Your efforts on this crucial front are monitored by the usual range meter in a bespoke – and pleasingly styled – instrument pack, and the trip computer also reveals the energy used, the energy you’ve regenerated and your savings compared with a petrol-powered car. All of which adds to the pleasure of use.
What is it like?
The Focus’s electric motor provides 143bhp and 184lb ft of instant pull. That makes for an easy and effortless advance, the more so because there’s only a single gear. So the ebb and flow progress of a multiple-geared manual car is absent, as is the sound of an internal combustion engine.
This makes travel a particularly restful experience – if ultimately duller for the keen driver – and surprisingly brisk with it. From rest and at middling speeds, the Focus borders on the sporty, even if its top speed is limited to a prehistoric 84mph. The sporting impression is reinforced by swift and incisive steering and the handling balance that comes from a 51/49 per cent weight distribution. In fact, there’s enough thrust to provoke a trace of torque steer on an undulating road, and more intrusive than that is a curious directional squirm over camber changes that sometimes demands correction, a quirk absent from conventionally propelled Focuses.
Should I buy one?
There are a few issues to weigh before taking the electric plunge. The £25,000 price – with government subsidy deducted – is one of them, and the compatibility of this Focus’s range with your life patterns is another. It’s why Ford doesn’t predict huge sales for this car. But the good news is that the Focus Electric moves the game on in a couple of areas, and for the most part it makes for an agreeable drive.
Ford Focus Electric
Price £25,000 (est); 0-62mph na; Top speed 84mph; Economy na; CO2 Nil (at tailpipe); Kerb weight 1647kg; Engine type Electric, permanent magnet; Power 143bhp; Torque 184lb ft; Gearbox Single speed