From one rare car to another and this week I guarantee I'll even beat the fuel economy (7.0 L/100 km) of last week's VW GLI quite handily. Yes this week I'm driving an electric vehicle -- okay not exactly – but it is a plug-in hybrid. Ford designates their plug-in hybrid models with the "Energi" moniker and with newly installed charging stations at the office I should be set for the week.
The C-MAX energi is capable of delivering a full electric range of 32 km. That said after plugging it in and starting it up today it said my range was 29 km but I was at 100 percent battery so don't rely on that exact number.
But that's okay, because the plug-in hybrid is very much like the original Volt, carrying a generator on board that gives you even further electric range as well as the gas powered range for a total of close to 900 km and perhaps more if you are a hypermiler.
In Ontario the C-Max Energi could be eligible for up to $7,730 in government rebates, it is around $4,000 in Quebec as well and with a starting price of just $32,000 there are a lot of good numbers to toss around -- including the total system horsepower number at 188.
But it's my first chance to drive a vehicle for a week that I can charge at home and at work to see what it's like to live with a electric or range-extended gasoline powered hybrid.
The starting price of the C-Max is certainly reasonable for a plug-in hybrid vehicle at just over $30,000. When you include government rebates the price is even more appealing. That reasonable pricing matched up with the quality of interior is worth noting carefully.
The entire dash is made of a soft-touch plastic / rubber material that is pleasing to look at and touch, the arm rests and such are also placed properly and are comfortable. The rest of the interior is very current generation Ford with all the dials and controls being similar across the brand. That means the newly upgraded Sync system with a very bright and high-resolution screen, hard buttons for the HVAC controls and radios and redundant controls inside the infotainment system.
Of course there some differences in the infotainment system you would expect for a vehicle with plug-in capabilities. There are settings for when to charge the car. You can set when you typically leave in the morning and afternoon as well which is cool.
If you do this the car will calculate when to start charging in order to be fully charged by the time you wish to use the car. You can also set the temperature that you want the car to be prepared at when you arrive and using electricity from your home the car will heat or cool the cabin in time for your departure.
The driving position is quite high in the C-Max similar to a small crossover. This makes it easy for ingress and egress and gives you a better view of the road ahead. With power adjusting driver's seat and tilt and telescoping steering wheel the seating is comfortable and finding a driving position suitable for me was quick and easy.
The electric struggle is a real one! If I had a pure electric vehicle I would have been in a serious pickle today. I ran out of electricity just as I pulled up to the office – Perfect, I'll just plug in and head in for the day. OH BOY! Electric vehicles have become a little more popular; when the charging stations were installed about a year ago only one would be in regular use, now all four spots were taken up, now what?
A warning to those that think everything is rosy in the electric car world: it is until there are way more cars then there are chargers, I can't just wait 2 minutes for the "pump" to be free like at the gas station, I have to wait 3-5 hours for these to free up.
Back to the C-Max specifically. It is nice to drive, especially in EV mode, no engine hum or noise at all; even with the still-fitted winter tires, road noise is very minimal. There is some wind noise but again it is minor and city driving is especially serene due to the lack of engine when stopped or creeping.
Out on the highway, if the engine does run you don't really notice it; there is a slight additional vibration that is felt and heard but that's all. Call on the engine during acceleration though and you do notice it and it is a huffy little power plant that isn't the most pleasant sounding, to say the least.
That said, the C-Max is kind of fun to drive, the electric motor torque is always a blast and there is a game-like element to saving fuel or, in my case, trying to always stay on battery power. I have consistently been able to get the advertised 30 km range out of the vehicle as well, except for this morning. It was windy this morning and my charge ran out at 25 km -- still close though.
Well, I believe I've set a new personal best for fuel economy. I basically didn't use any fuel this week – the on-board computer says I averaged 1.5L/100km and I drove around 300 km, which works out to 4.5L. So about five dollars in fuel and probably about the same in electricity, not bad.
The torque that is delivered by the electric motors really does make the car fun, especially around town. I noticed a significant difference after jumping in my own car right after driving the C-Max – that electric torque really is instant.
I enjoyed the little C-Max; the only negative with it is the small amount of trunk space because of the batteries. You can tell the vehicle was not designed from the ground up to have so many batteries in it, or they would have hidden them a little better.
Model: 2016 Ford C-Max Energi
Options: Package 303A (Nav, Hands free liftgate, Rear camera, park assist) -- $3,695
A/C Tax: $100
Price as Tested: $37,394
Toyota Prius / V