Ford Focus Estate review
The Ford Focus Estate is more practical than the hatch, yet still drives brilliantly
The Ford Focus Estate is a mainstay of business fleets across the country, and it delivers far better carrying capacity than the hatchback bodystyle. Most models are sold with diesel power, but Ford’s 1.0 EcoBoost three-cylinder turbocharged engine is a fine petrol alternative.
The Ford Focus Estate ECOnetic model offers outstanding efficiency and is a solid choice for those who want something a bit more involving to drive. It lacks standard equipment, however, so we recommend the 1.6-litre diesel model in Zetec trim.
The Focus Estate gets extra headroom for rear passengers compared to the hatchback version but the rest of the car shares its technology with the standard Focus hatch. That means there’s a host of upmarket gadgetry and brilliant petrol EcoBoost engines, as well as frugal diesels.
Our choice: Ford Focus Estate 1.6 TDCi (115) Zetec
Styling hasn’t been a strong point for the Ford Focus since the distinctive MkI car was replaced with the less eye-catching MkII, and the current estate is pretty uninspiring.
Up front, the upright nose features large air intakes in the bumper with a narrow grille and angular lights above, but Ford will tidy up the nose with a Fiesta-style grille as part of a facelift due later this year.
Zetec models get chrome window trim and 16-inch alloys, but Ford offers an Appearance Pack, which adds 17-inch alloys and privacy glass for £525.
Inside, the Focus remains uninspiring. Its button-heavy centre console looks extremely fussy and it's also a bit tricky to navigate - it takes a while to familiarise yourself with the menu buttons and other controls. In addition, the small colour screen is set well back and isn’t as clear as the large screen in the Peugeot.
The rest of the cabin is well built, but some of the plastics used feel a bit cheap. And while there are flashes of silver present on the steering wheel and centre console, they fail to lift the interior’s relentlessly grey feel.
The Focus still has the upper hand for driving entertainment in this class. The estate is just as much fun to drive as the hatchback, with sharp steering that delivers decent feedback, and an agile chassis that encourages you to tackle twisty roads at speed. This driving enjoyment doesn’t come at the expense of comfort, as the Focus is a relaxing cruiser on the motorway and the suspension handles bumps well.
With its accurate steering and brilliant suspension set-up, the Ford Focus Estate is one of the best cars in its class to drive - and the hot ST version will appeal to those after big thrills.
There are plenty of engines to choose from, 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.
Ford's 1.0 EcoBoost three-cylinder turbo petrol is an award-winner, and with very good reason. It set a new benchmark for performance from small-capacity turbo petrol engines, and it certainly punches above its weight in terms of acceleration.
The current Ford Focus has been on sale for three years, and in that time it has proven to be relatively trouble-free. The exterior panel gaps are tight and the interior robust, suggesting the Focus has been built to last.
The EcoBoost engine should be reliable, too. We ran an estate powered by this engine that racked up over 20,000 miles in a year without a hiccup. And if there are any problems, then a network of 781 dealers means there will be a franchised workshop on your doorstep.
The Focus hatch earned a five-star Euro NCAP rating, and its percentage scores are similar to the Peugeot’s. You get six airbags as standard, and Zetec-spec models feature a Quickclear windscreen and heated mirrors. You can add a Driver Assistance Pack, with low-speed braking, road-sign recognition and a driver alertness monitor, for £550.
The Focus Estate has a large boot opening and low loading lip, but it only has 476 litres of space under the load cover – less than the SEAT Leon ST and Peugeot 308 SW. There aren’t many useful features in the boot, either. You won’t find any seat folding levers or under-floor storage, although there are four hooks moulded into the trim and a 12V power socket.
Elsewhere, the Focus isn’t quite as spacious as its rivals for back-seat passengers, although it does have the smallest transmission tunnel. On the plus side, it’s quite comfortable up front, and there’s a decent-sized glovebox and door bins.
Despite all the extra kit and improved safety over the previous Focus Estate, the weight-saving measures mean it's reasonably cheap to run.
Every single Focus Estate emits less than 140g/km of CO2, while a road-tax exempt 88g/km ECOnetic model is the most economical version in the range. 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.
The luxuriously equipped top-spec Titanium and Titanium X models can be quite costly though, and will depreciate quickly. All cars get air-conditioning and alloy wheels and you can also add option packs. These include gadgets such as lane departure warning, automatic parking, automatic cruise control and road sign recognition.