by Roger Biermann
Every brand has an EV under its umbrella these days. But, whereas BMW built an electric car from scratch in the i3, and Chevrolet in the Bolt, Ford is one of the many manufacturers who saw fit to convert an existing gasoline-powered model into an electrically-propelled one. The Ford Focus Electric looks like a Focus hatchback, but doesn't sound like a Focus - it's heavier than one too. So if it looks like a Focus, but doesn't sound like or drink fuel like a Focus, can it still possess the enjoyable qualities of the combustion model's driver-focused package?
Single Speed Automatic
The interior of the Ford Focus Electric Hatchback is bang on identical to its combustion engine counterpart. That means inside you'll get the familiar SYNC 3 infotainment system with its eight-inch touchscreen, along with dual-zone climate control to keep things comfortable. You'll be able to seat five passengers in the Focus Electric, though legroom may be a bit cramped for taller occupants and may require that those up front relinquish some of their own legroom.
The one major concession, and the one that belies the Focus Electric's origins as a combustion-powered vehicle, is the trunk space. Where rivals like the Nissan Leaf have a regular cargo hold with a sunken floor and built-in battery, Ford's 35kWh lithium-ion battery sits in the trunk and eats up 9.1 cubic feet to drop the overall figure to 14.2 cu ft. That's still more than the combustion sedan offers though, it just arrives in hatch format here.
Once a Focus, always a Focus, right? Except the Ford Focus EV actually has some benefits over and above the regular Focus when it comes to ride quality; the added 700 lbs from the battery significantly improves the ride quality. It wasn't bad before, but the weight settles the ride and makes it feel more composed. Of course, the weight penalty does have a negative influence on the handling - one of the combustion Focus's strongest points - and it doesn't quite engage the same through quick changes of direction or under hard cornering. The regenerative braking is impressive, too, doing its thing without really alerting the driver as to what it's doing. To that end, for what the average EV commuter will do with the car, the Focus Electric offers an exemplary ride and handling, trading in driver focus for composure and a natural feel.
When it comes to range, the EPA figure is 115 miles from the new battery, equating to a gas mileage equivalent of 118/107 MPGe for city/combined driving. 2017 also saw a DC fast-charging feature added to the mix that can give you 75 miles range in just 30 minutes. The battery takes around 30 hours to reach full charge on a standard 120-volt charger. A 240V outlet decreases charging time to around 5.5 hours for a full charge.
For 2017, the Focus Electric got a bump in battery capacity to 35kWh. The battery pairs with an electric motor for 143 horsepower and 184 lb-ft of torque. Driven wheels are the front pair, through a single-speed transmission. Much slower than the regular car, the Ford Focus Electric gets from 0-60 mph in upwards of 12 seconds. Acceleration is gradual, but power delivery is instant thanks to that electrified torque. The transmission works as expected, imperceptibly, fitting for the EV hatch's more sedate ethos, compared to the regular car.
In terms of specs, the Focus Electric doesn't really have much left to option. SYNC 3 infotainment and climate control are standard, as are heated seats. For a price, you can have the cloth upholstery upgraded to leather, and power seat adjustment is also available. Other than that, it's all standard. As for safety, there are rear park distance sensors, a rearview camera, stability control, and ABS brakes. The Focus scored five stars out of five in NHTSA crash testing, and achieved best possible ratings of Good from the IIHS.
In the USA, pricing for the 2018 Ford Focus Electric starts at an MSRP of around $30,000. Because of its zero-emissions resolve, the Focus Electric qualifies for a $7,500 federal income-tax credit and a $2,500 California purchase rebate. The Focus Electric is a quality EV but its all-electric range still falls well shy of the Chevrolet Bolt's 200-mile range. The compromise in trunk space is also a pesky downside. However, at the Ford Focus Electric's price, it's still worth considering, it also offers a decent driving experience that feels as normal as a regular Focus does.
Check out some informative Ford Focus Electric video reviews below.