Space and grace – these are the order of the day from the latest Ford Focus.
The third-generation hatchback hit showrooms earlier this year, but estate car buyers have been forced to wait a little longer. Is that patience about to be rewarded with a class-leading debut? Or will it stumble at the first hurdle?
The new load-carrier is expected to account for 15 per cent of Focus sales, which equates to around 12,000 vehicles per year, so it has to be good. Limited luggage space is one of our biggest complaints about the hatch but, to answer this, the estate is 198mm longer than before. Here, we test the entry-level petrol model in mid-range Zetec trim against a practical opponent.
The Skoda Octavia has never struggled when it comes to size; it’s one of the biggest cars in the class. But on paper, the model in this test trails in terms of under-bonnet capacity, as it features a 1.2-litre petrol engine. This turbo unit replaces the trusty 1.6-litre, yet it should still give the Ford a run for its money with its pace and efficiency. Plus, the Skoda has price on its side – so the scene is set for a close contest...
Video: watch the Ford Focus Estate in action
WHICH of these two models best meets the estate car brief? If stylish looks are the priority, the new Ford Focus is the car for you. But in virtually every other respect, the load-carrying Skoda has the edge. The new 1.2-litre TSI engine ensures the bigger, thoughtfully designed Octavia is the faster and more efficient choice. And while the Focus is arguably more engaging to drive, the Skoda strikes a better everyday balance between comfort and handling ability.
All of this would be enough to justify paying a premium, yet the better car here is also the cheapest – by some distance. That’s bad news for the naturally aspirated Focus. The Skoda ownership experience also promises to be one of the best around, if our annual satisfaction survey is anything to go by, so this is a resounding victory.