Ford Focus Electric Review

Find out more about the Ford Focus Electric in the latest Motors.co.uk Review

Loading...
2
Out of 5
Search New Cars
  • Pros
  • Good equipment levels
  • Quiet
  • Cheap to run
  • Cons
  • Very expensive
  • Poor range
  • Extra weight sacrifices the Focus’ usual brilliant handling
  • MPG
    0 - 0
  • CO2
    0 - 0 g/km

The Ford Focus is one of the best-selling cars in the UK, and has been since it first hit the market in 1998.

You would think then that an electric version produced at a time when people were starting to move towards electric cars would prove a big hit. But you would be wrong because Ford has struggled to shift even 25 in several years.

The Focus Electric was Ford’s first fully electric car, launched in the US before it first arrived on UK shores in late 2013. It was expected to prove a hit with fleet contracts, but even that never took off.

Latest model

The Focus Electric has seen little change since it first went on sale in 2013.

The only notable difference came last year when Ford increased the battery size, making the Focus Electric more useable thanks to an increased range. As the electric motor was unchanged, though, the performance has remained the same.

Value for money

No matter which way you look, it’s hard not to say that the Focus Electric is expensive. It is not far from being £10,000 more than an equally equipped petrol or diesel Focus, which is a lot of money for a hatchback.

It does come well-equipped, though, with standard kit including a Sony DAB digital radio, satellite navigation, cruise control and half-leather seats.

As with all electric cars, the Focus Electric is eligible for the £4,500 government electric car grant, but even with this, it is still pricey. The Volkswagen e-Golf is a far superior car and is nearly £4,000 cheaper, which makes the Focus Electric look very overpriced.

A search through the Motors classifieds resulted in no Focus Electrics being for sale – unsurprising considering just 21 are currently registered on UK roads. However, the Focus is not known for holding its value all that well, so it can’t be expected that the electric version would fare any better, so it could prove a great second-hand buy if you are lucky enough to see one for sale.

 

Looks and image

Unfortunately. because of the extra weight needed for the batteries and the electric motor, the Focus Electric is rather heavy – 300kg more than the petrol version to be precise. This means that it loses the agility of the standard Focus, having a negative effect on the handling. The regenerative braking, while saving energy, makes the braking feel awkward and grabby, and is tricky to adjust to.

While the Focus Electric may have a better ride than that of the firm BMW i3, because of an attempt to stiffen up the suspension - ironically meant to make it handle better - it has made the ride firm compared to that of the Volkswagen e-Golf.

The interior finish is good, though. The spec of the Focus Electric is comparable to that of the Titanium – one of the range-topping models. This means you get comfortable half leather seats and a well-finished dashboard. The Focus’ interior is becoming a bit outdated, though, so you will notice it lacking behind rivals on the technology front.

Space and practicality

This is another category where, unfortunately, you would probably be better off choosing a standard diesel or petrol Focus.

The pair of large batteries seriously eat into boot space, meaning that the Focus’ already-small 316-litre boot is reduced even further to just 237 litres – much less than even the new Fiesta has.

Space elsewhere is largely similar to that of the standard Focus, meaning plenty of space up front, with average space in the rear. The Focus isn’t the best-packaged hatchback in the first place, though.

As for family appeal, it all comes down to whether you can live with the small boot space. The Focus is a popular choice with families, as there’s plenty of space to fit child seats in the back with Isofix sockets in place.

The standard Focus is a safe car, and was awarded the full five stars by EuroNCAP. It is hoped that the Focus Electric would perform in a similar way - it has never been tested - although unfortunately you can’t specify an electric Focus with autonomous braking or lane-keeping assist, like you can with other Focus models.

 

Power and range

Just one powertrain option is available on the Focus Electric – a 33.5kWh battery pack. It provides a claimed range of 140 miles, which was an impressive feat a couple of years ago but it has since been caught up and overtaken by rivals from Hyundai, Renault and Volkswagen. The claimed range should be enough for most drivers, though.

It can be fully charged in five hours using a 32 amp home charging socket. You can improve this with a fast-charging DC point, when the batteries can charge to 80 per cent in 30 minutes.

The motors produce the equivalent of 140bhp, allowing you to get from 0-60mph in 10.8 seconds and to a maximum speed of 84mph. As with most electric cars, though, the instant torque from the electric motor makes it feel far quicker than the figures suggest.

 

Running costs

This is where the Focus Electric truly comes into its element. As unlike the petrol and diesel versions, it is emission-free.

You just have to pay for the electricity you use, which will be far less than any petrol or diesel will ever be. It is also road tax exempt, as it is from many traffic charging schemes such as the congestion charge.

Another benefit of the Focus Electric is the savings it can reap for business users. For these drivers, it is in the lowest Benefit-in-Kind (BiK) grouping, meaning it will be far cheaper on business tax than a standard diesel Focus would be. You do need to remember the excessive amount extra you will pay for it in the first place, though, and what you are going to be using it for.

Finally, while many may be concerned about increased maintenance costs of electric cars, the reality is that there will be hardly any difference. Service scheduling remains the same – every 12,500 miles – although you do need to check that your preferred garage is equipped to deal with electric cars.

The Focus Electric sits in insurance group 20 – the same as both the most powerful 1.5-litre Focus and the Volkswagen e-Golf.

Things to look out for

Because of the lack of electric Focuses that have been sold, it is hard to tell if there have been any common problems reported.

Despite this, the new Focus has not proved a particularly reliable car, and has not performed all that well in reliability surveys. Yet, there isn’t a direct correlation here because the powertrain and electronics are completely different in the Electric, even if the axles, brakes and suspension are shared between the two cars.

 

Rivals

Probably the Focus’ main rival is the Nissan Leaf – the UK’s best-selling car. With a new model just hitting showrooms, the Focus Electric has an even greater challenge ahead of it. Other rivals include the smaller, but cheaper, Renault Zoe that boasts an impressive 250-mile range. There is also the Hyundai Ioniq, Volkswagen e-Golf and BMW i3.

Trims Explained

There is just one Focus Electric model available, and it costs £31,680.

As we’ve already touched on, standard equipment includes a DAB radio, satellite navigation, cruise control and part-leather seats.

The electric Focus also has a slightly different look to the standard cars, with a body-coloured front bumper and roof spoiler and 17-inch alloy wheels distinguishing it. But other than those, the only giveaway that it’s electric is the charging port flap.

You also get an eight-inch touchscreen that also features voice recognition and can read out your texts through Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

Summary

  1. Expensive to buy
  2. Very few purchased new
  3. You’ll struggle to find a used one for sale
  4. Good equipment levels
  5. Extra weight loses Focus’ driving charm
  6. Very cheap to run
  7. Boot space reduced by batteries
  8. 140-mile range
  9. Firm ride
  10. Rivals make much better alternatives