One of the spoils of automotive journalism is the ability to test drive cars before or as they hit the market. Yesterday I had the joy of a freshly minted Ford Focus Electric delivered straight to my driveway for a one week real world driving experience.
In my five years of electric car blogging I have had the pleasure to test, and live with several electric cars, giving me ample comparative experience. I spent one year living with the MINI-E, and have exclusively driven my Chevy Volt for the past year and a half. I have also test driven the Nissan LEAF, Mitsubishi i MIEV, the Tesla Roadster, several Chevy Volt prototypes, the GM 2-Mode plug-in EV, and even an early Ford Focus EV prototype.
Greeting the electric Focus was a pleasure. I found the car sleek and muscular with a futuristic aura. It sits low to the ground and with a wide stance. The hatchback rear and low wide slotted front grill are both pleasing aesthetics with a European flair. The wheels are large and bold.
The car is solid and well built. The cockpit was also clean and pleasing. I found it slightly more technical and interesting that the interiors of both the Volt and the LEAF. There appears to be a myriad of options both for the center touch LCD and non touch LCD behind the wheel. There is certainly a learning curve to these controls and in my first day of driving I mainly learned how to get the radio on and off and find my channels of interest. That wasn’t too tough. There is also a gauge that shows battery life and lets you set a range budget illustrating where you stand at any given moment. To provide eco-feedback Ford supplies a butterfly icon collection that grows with efficient driving.
The car drives tightly and boldly. It is easy to chirp the wheels from a standing stop and acceleration was definitely brisk. Though I did not time the 0 to 60 yet, it felt faster than the Volt and the LEAF. One could sense the low center of gravity from the heavy battery at the base which hugs the car to the road. It was certainly nimble in acceleration, braking, and handling. There is a low gear setting that adds mild regenerative drag, something I enjoy using in my Volt.
In my first 17 mile jaunt, my battery gauge went from 55 to 35 miles of estimated range. Officially the car should get 76 miles of range from a full charge.
Interior room was sufficient and bright and I was able to take my family of five along with no problem and plenty of cargo room left over.
The car is definitely fun, exciting, cool-looking and technologically interesting. The price-tag of $39,995 seems a little high though even with the $7500 tax credit for a pure electric car, considering the Volt costs the same but offers a range extender, and a similarly equipped LEAF is about $3000 less. Nonetheless the car is highly relevant as the only American made pure electric vehicle.
I’ll be spending the next full week with the car and will have more to report after that. Feel free to ask me to test and check anything you want in the comments below.