Tonight on the series premiere of the The Jay Leno Show, self-avowed petrolhead and Jay Leno will debut the closest thing we filthy Westerners will get to Top Gear‘s “Star in a Reasonably Priced Car” segment. Furnished with a Ford Focus BEV (Battery Electric Vehicle) courtesy of the Blue Oval, Leno’s “Green Car Challenge” will put his celebrity guests in the driver’s seat and unleash them on NBC’s private track. Sound like a snooze-fest? Possibly, but don’t let the buzz-killing verbiage fool you. Although the words “electric vehicle” aren’t usually synonymous with “stellar performance,” Leno’s Focus BEV is a one-off version of the 5-door Euro-spec Focus ST specially equipped by the experts in Dearborn to meet the demands of track life. The Focus BEV’s 141-hp magnetic electric motor delivers almost as much torque as a V6 Mustang (236 lb-ft), and many of the suspension components were lifted from the STi-fighting Focus RS.
In 2011, Ford plans to introduce a production version of the Leno Ford Focus BEV to the North American market, but given the shaft the we’ve received in the past (here we’re thinking specifically of the Ford Focus RS), we don’t expect it to be anywhere near as hoon-friendly.