From £13,7858
This electric Focus lives up to the promise of affordable, reliable and enjoyable motoring

Our Verdict

Can the Ford Focus capture the hearts and minds of hatchback buyers?

5 September 2013

What is it?: 

Ford’s first-ever all-electric, series-production car, a five-door Focus hatchback powered solely by a lithum-ion battery pack and AC electric motor. On sale now for delivery towards the end of the year, the Focus Electric seats five and is claimed to have a range of 100 miles and a top speed of 85mph, although not both at the same time.

The 23kWhr liquid–cooled battery is said to be capable of being charged in 10-11 hours from a standard 240volt/10amp UK domestic socket, while a fast charger operating at 32amp can fill-up the empty battery in ‘three to four hours’.

Priced from £33,500, which drops to £28,580 when the government’s plug-in car grant is deducted, the Focus Electric is considerably more expensive than a Renault Fluence ZE, which lists at £21,495, reduced to £17,495 by the grant and a Nissan Leaf, which starts from £16k.

Although drivers of the Renault also have to factor in the cost of leasing the battery, which can add up to £138 a month on a 15k mile/year, 12-month contract, likewise battery rental on the Nissan works out to £113 a month if you do 12k miles a year.

What's it like?: 

The Focus is one of our favourite hatchbacks and the Electric version packs all the dynamic appeal of the conventionally powered versions, which means beautifully weighted steering and a composed chassis with a fine balance between ride and agility.

The ride is most likely aided by the hefty kerb weight of 1700kg, 415kg more than a 2.0 TDCi, which gives the suspension springs a solid base from which to absorb bumps.

What we couldn’t evaluate was the effect on cornering power and braking stability of much of that weight being concentrated over the rear axle, where the battery pack is located. Although a drive last year suggests that the on-limit characteristics might be a little less predictable than the mainstream Focus.

Like its rivals the Focus Electric’s powerpack is smooth and refined. In fact in conventionally powered cars you’d have to pay north of £100k and step into luxury limo territory to experience cabin serenity like this.

At speed the dominant cabin noise is tyre rumble and a little wind noise from the wing mirrors, but both are limited to an unobtrusive background hum.

At some speeds there’s also a faint but pleasing whistle from the engine bay that, in quality if not volume, is akin to a Cold War jet fighter taxiing.

The powertrain also delivers a surprising turn of speed at lower speeds, broadly comparable to a 2.0-litre diesel, but it runs out of shove around 60mph and starts to feel lethargic in the high speed cruise.

The steering wheel also squirms a little on acceleration, a trait we reported on when we first tasted the Focus Electric about a year ago.

But the undeniable truth about electric cars is that their instantaneous power delivery is fun to experience, even if the limitations of the battery pack curb the opportunity to exploit it often.

The battery of course occupies a significant chunk of the luggage area, which reduces everyday carrying capacity to 237 litres, 126 litres fewer than a conventional Focus, but still a usable volume for everyday use.

Should I buy one?: 

Thanks to its excellent driving dynamics, the Focus Electric takes its place as the most sophisticated driver’s car in the segment.

But given the rather optimistic pricing, it would be a very, very keen driver who ignored the vastly cheaper opposition, particularly since the role of an EV is urban pottering about.

Ford isn’t too bothered about pricing, because the bulk of deliveries will be absorbed into fleet contracts where the list price is only part of the deal equation.

If you’re lucky enough to get behind the wheel of a Focus Electric as part of one of those deals, then it’s a great new electric car to be enjoyed and savoured.

Ford Focus Electric

Price £33,500; 0-62mph 11.7secs; Top speed 85mph; Kerbweight 1700kg; Motor and battery 143bhp AC motor and 23kwh lithium-ion battery pack; Power 143bhp; Torque 184lb ft; Gearbox Reduction box with ratio of 10:1

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Comments
8

5 September 2013

This review is a, um, whitewash. While mentioning the Leaf and Renault, Randall astonishingly fails to mention the BMW i3 is 3k cheaper!! And there's no contest which is the more desirable car. The only explanation for this omission is banal patriotism. Oh, and I loved my Mk1 Focus.

5 September 2013

Indeed - this car demonstrates the difference between a manufacturer like BMW who have committed significant resource into producing a serious electric car and Ford who are just dipping a toe in the water with a pretty poor effort. The BMW is quicker, significantly lighter, probably has just as much space inside and cheaper. Even the Leaf has the measure of it, Nissan did a good job all that time ago!

Patriotism can't explain the review (unless the author is American) - I wonder what the reason is?

6 September 2013
Autocar wrote:

the Electric version packs all the dynamic appeal of the conventionally powered versions

Autocar wrote:

What we couldn’t evaluate was the effect on cornering power and braking stability of much of that weight being concentrated over the rear axle

...errr....?!


7 September 2013

Where does patriotism come into it? The Focus is a German designed, German built car produced by an American company. Since launch in 1998, not a single Focus has been sourced from the UK. Nothing British about it at all. It still amazes me that people still regard Ford as somehow British. They havnt built a single car here for around 12 years. Even the Southampton Transit van factory has stopped production, with the "backbone of Britain" now built in Turkey!

9 September 2013

I hear the same thing from my in-laws. They only ever buy Fords and Vauxhalls. Whenever we have the nerve to buy something else we get snooty comments like "why would you buy that foreign rubbish" and, just as silly, "the parts and servicing on that will be really expensive". Regardless of the actual cost of these things... I feel like I've been transported back to 1979 when I hear this for the nth time.

Ironically, this included my British built Avensis... Naturally, the Fiesta they own wasn't built here (or the Corsa before that), but try telling them that!

Don't let the facts get in the way of a good bit of hyperbole eh? Smile

6 September 2013

£33,500 - £28,580 is affordable?
and,
How the heck can Autocar assume that it is reliable? Driving it just for a day or so??
I thought a reliability of a car should only be judged owning it for at least, 6 years. Ideally 10 years in my honest opinion judging by the fact that an average life of a car is about 15 years.

Another biased journalism from Autocar, sadly.

6 September 2013
rocketscience wrote:

£33,500 - £28,580 is affordable?
and,
How the heck can Autocar assume that it is reliable? Driving it just for a day or so??
.

This is why we're stuck with cars with increasingly flaky reliability and expensive repairs once out of warranty that never come close to claimed economy figures.

The manufacturers know that to sell a car they need to impress car journalists and fleet managers. One is impressed by the appearance of quality, the other by a decent warranty and low (on paper) emissions.

For private buyers not lucky enough to afford newer cars and wanting real world fuel economy, you're stuffed.

6 September 2013
Oilburner wrote:
rocketscience wrote:

£33,500 - £28,580 is affordable?
and,
How the heck can Autocar assume that it is reliable? Driving it just for a day or so??
.

This is why we're stuck with cars with increasingly flaky reliability and expensive repairs once out of warranty that never come close to claimed economy figures.

The manufacturers know that to sell a car they need to impress car journalists and fleet managers. One is impressed by the appearance of quality, the other by a decent warranty and low (on paper) emissions.

For private buyers not lucky enough to afford newer cars and wanting real world fuel economy, you're stuffed.

I can't agree more.

Some times I wish there are "Real" automobile journalism for the "Real" end users.
I am rather tired of reading childish reviews from joy riding journalists whos only concern is handling at unrealistic speed.

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