In this part of the Ford Focus Electric review, we will go over its performance and handling. This is part of a multi-part review of Ford’s all-electric Focus, for an overview of the car see – Review of the Ford Focus Electric – Overview
One of the selling points of electric cars is that “100% torque at 0 RPM” feature that makes for great off-the-line performance. The Ford Focus Electric does not disappoint in this regard. Both performance and handling are excellent. The result makes for an immensely fun car to drive, that seems to have endless power until you find the electronic speed limit of 84 miles/hr. Additionally it features excellent hill climbing and maneuverability.
I spent three days driving the Ford Focus Electric in many situations and never felt there was a lack of speed. Merging onto a busy highway was easy, just push the accelerator and you zoom into traffic with ease. While cruising at the speed limit, it’s easy to go faster by again pushing the accelerator. Acceleration is strong with that feeling of being pushed back into the seat continuing all the way to 84 miles/hr. As the car goes faster the feeling of acceleration does drop off slowly, but at 84 miles/hr it suddenly stops. This is the upper limit to the Focus Electric’s speed, and in reality, in most cases, it is a quite fine upper speed.
When asked about the upper speed limit, a Ford engineer replied with a question “What would you want to have done with the on-board power?” First, 84 miles/hr is faster than the speed limit anywhere in the U.S., and because the general speed of traffic is in the 70-75 miles/hr range (also above the typical speed limit) an 84 miles/hr top speed is adequate. More importantly, higher speeds use more power, and allowing a higher top end speed would affect total driving range.
Because I picked up the car in San Francisco, the obvious first test was to drive the car on that cities famous steep hills. Hunting around the city I found my way to Twin Peaks and drove to the top with no trouble. One of the roads to the top of Twin Peaks has a 17% grade, which the car handled very well going both uphill and downhill. On the uphill test I stopped the car at cross streets a few times, and getting going again was quite easy. You simply lift your foot off the brake, and the car holds itself firmly in position until the accelerator is pressed, at which time it takes off easily. It didn’t matter how long a time-span there was between releasing the brake and pressing the accelerator, the car held its position.
The hills in the vicinity of Twin Peaks have many narrow twisty roads. The highly responsive steering made it easy to maneuver around the twists and turns of the roads.
Another feature of the region is the mountain range along the San Francisco Peninsula. Highway 17 is a popular road between Silicon Valley and Santa Cruz that features a steep and twisty climb rising from near sea level to 1500 foot altitude in just a few miles. It’s steep enough that some gasoline powered cars have trouble with the climb. The test trip started in Los Gatos (at the base of the mountain), fully charged, and the car went right up the mountain with ease. There seemed to be no pause or slowdown, and there was plenty of power every step of the way. It did use quite a bit of power to make the climb, more than would have been required on flat ground. The car’s regenerative braking did recover some energy on the trip down but it required keeping the brake slightly depressed all the way.
By the numbers, the electric motor is rated for 107 kiloWatts or 143 horsepower, and 184 ft-lb or 250 Nm of torque. For more on the drive train see Review of the Ford Focus Electric – Electric drive train.
In short the Ford Focus Electric is fun to drive because it has good handling, and it has the performance required for nearly any driving situation.
This is part of a multi-part review of Ford’s all-electric Focus, for an overview of the car see – Review of the Ford Focus Electric – Overview