Ford Focus Estate review
The Ford Focus Estate is more practical than the hatch, yet still drives brilliantly
The Ford Focus Estate is larger and more practical than the car it replaces. It is more fun to drive than a Renault Megane Sports Tourer and VW Golf Estate, too. It boasts extra headroom for rear passengers and, of course, the bonus of a much bigger luggage area than the hatchback on which it's based. The rest of the car shares its technology with the standard hatch, so there’s a host of upmarket gadgetry and brilliant new turbo petrol EcoBoost engines, as well as frugal diesels.
Our choice: Ford Focus Estate 1.6 TDCi (115) Zetec
Like the hatch, the front end of the Ford Focus Estate is not its strong point – those triangular air intakes at the front are awkward, and the huge gap between the badge and the bonnet isn't very attractive. However, the extra long roof and neat rear end do wonders for the shape, and it's arguable that the Estate is more handsome than the hatch. Some bright new colours and a wide mix of alloy wheel designs help, too. It’s easy to get comfortable with reach and rake adjustable steering, plus plenty of seat travel, while there’s a host of interesting equipment available.
The Ford Focus has become progressively softer over the years, but this latest version is still the best car to drive in its class, thanks to accurate steering and an agile chassis. It also boasts a true ‘big car’ feel, being quiet at high speed, and offering a firm, but still comfortable ride. The Estate only weighs 26kg more than the hatchback, so the two feel the same to drive. The engine line-up is wide, with 1.6-litre petrol units ranging from 104bhp to 180bhp and 1.6-litre and 2.0-litre diesels ranging from 95bhp to 161bhp. Of these, the new 148bhp 1.6-litre EcoBoost turbocharged petrol is fast but it's expensive. Better value is the 113bhp 1.6 TDCi Zetec, which is nearly as rapid and costs around £1,500 less.
As the Focus is so new, it’s difficult to predict its reliability, but Ford models have improved greatly in recent years, so we expect the new Focus to make very few visits to the local dealer. As for safety, the Focus has scored a full five stars from Euro NCAP, thanks to front, side and curtain airbags as well as electronic systems like lane departure warning. Anti-skid control and ABS are also both standard.
The new Focus Estate is longer, lower and narrower than its predecessor, and clever cabin design means there is more room inside, particularly for rear passengers, who benefit from extra headroom over the hatch. However, while the boot is large, it’s not the biggest in the class. With the rear seats in place, it has 476 litres – 24 litres less than in the Vauxhall Astra Sports Tourer and 29 litres less than the Volkswagen Golf Estate. Fold the rear bench flat – a quick and easy job – and that extends to 1,502 litres, which is 48 litres behind the Astra, although it’s seven litres ahead of the Golf. Thanks to a compact rear suspension layout, the boot floor is low and flat, while the load area is wider than the hatchback’s. Handy optional extras include protective mats, luggage nets and a dog guard. It’s easy to get comfortable with reach and rake adjustable steering, plus plenty of seat travel, while there’s a host of interesting equipment available.
Ford has worked hard to reduce the Focus’ weight, in spite of all the extra kit and improved safety it offers. Allied to the new engine range, that has paid off in terms of efficiency. Every single Focus Estate emits less than 140g/km of CO2, while a road-tax and congestion charge exempt sub-99g/km ECOnetic model is due soon. The best choice for business and private users in the current line-up is the 113bhp 1.6-litre diesel, which gets start-stop, emits 109g/km and returns 67.3mpg. Running costs should be low, although luxuriously equipped top-spec Titanium and Titanium X models can cost up to £25,000 (without options added) and will depreciate alarmingly. This is where the Focus has really moved on. All cars get air-conditioning and alloy wheels, but you can add option packs that include gadgets such as lane departure warning, automatic parking, automatic cruise control and road sign recognition.