2012 Ford Focus Electric
2012 Ford Focus Electric. Click image to enlarge

First Drive: 2012 Ford Focus Electric

Manufacturer’s web site
Ford Motor Company of Canada

Review and photos by James Bergeron
Main photo by Greg Wilson

Photo Gallery:
2012 Ford Focus Electric

This truly is the definition of a Quick Spin—I recently had the opportunity to get behind the wheel of the 2012 Ford Focus Electric and it was a short drive, but it provided me with enough insight into the platform to form an opinion that we hope our readers will appreciate.

Unlike the Mitsubishi iMiEV and more popular and well-known Nissan Leaf, the Ford Focus Electric shares its underpinnings with the conventional gas-powered Focus and, as a result, it doesn’t look “different” or “odd” or “green”. This Focus would appeal to those who want the electric experience without really advertising to the world that they out to hug some trees.

As a result, what you get on the inside and outside is basically what you would get if you were to head to Ford today and spec out a Titanium version of the Ford Focus—and the pricing is not that far off, either, with the Electric coming in at $41,999 before any potential government rebates.

The only differences that were noticeable on the inside were some gauges and the trunk space. A sour point for me—I was really hoping that the batteries would be under the trunk floor and out of the way, but they do intrude into the trunk area, creating a higher trunk floor and adding a hump behind the rear seats. This does not make the Focus Electric completely useless when it comes to cargo capacity but it is a far cry from the well-packaged Nissan Leaf.

2012 Ford Focus Electric
2012 Ford Focus Electric
2012 Ford Focus Electric. Click image to enlarge

Where the Ford really shines, though, is out on the road. The 107-kW electric motor outputs an equivalent of 143 horsepower and 184 lb-ft of torque from what is essentially a dead stop. What does this do to the driving experience? Well, power that never seems to stop makes this electric car feel downright strong and sporty. The Focus Electric has the advantage over the competition in that it starts life as a well-sorted and sharp-handling compact car and this does not change with its electrification.

Go full throttle from a stop and the electric motor easily spins the front wheels; when grip returns you get planted back into your seat—very much akin to getting ready for takeoff in a modern airliner.

The brakes do suffer slightly as they feel a little bit on the rubbery side, a side effect of regenerating braking—I have yet to drive an electric vehicle or hybrid that is able to completely remove this sensation, but the Focus is close. The trade-off here are brakes that will last longer than conventional ones if driven efficiently, as most of the braking can be diverted back to the battery, through regeneration, to help facilitate the 160-km electric range in this vehicle.

Most electric vehicle buyers (save, perhaps, Tesla owners) are not out to spin the tires and win drag races. When driven in a normal or economical fashion, the Focus electric impresses immensely with zero noise emitted during acceleration, deceleration, or cruising. And although the Focus Electric is a special vehicle, it feels down right “normal” on the road, and to some that may just be the ticket to get people interested in this technology.

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