Ford Focus Estate review
The Ford Focus Estate is more practical than the hatch, yet still drives brilliantly
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
The triangular air intakes at the front of the Ford Focus Estate are awkward, and the huge gap between the badge and the bonnet doesn't improve things - luckily, a facelifted version of the Focus Estate will appear in showrooms very soon.
The roof of the estate is longer than the hatchback version, making the car look more stylish and the neat tail end helps it stand out when looked at from the rear.
Some stylish alloy wheel designs (avoid the ECOnetic if you value these) are available too, and the interior is rather good considering that the Focus is cheaper to buy than a VW Golf estate. It’s easy to get comfortable with reach and rake adjustable steering, plus plenty of seat travel. There’s plenty of equipment on Zetec models and up.
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.
The ride on the standard car is slightly firm, but it's not uncomfortable - in fact, refinement at speed is very good. The estate only weighs 26kg more than the hatchback, so there's very little difference in how they feel to drive - and we rate the hatch very highly for driver engagement.
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. We'd go for the 113bhp 1.6 TDCi Zetec, which is the best mix of performance and economy.
The Focus hatch dropped from 19th place in the Driver Power 2012 survey to 70th in 2013, which shows that owners aren't massively happy with the car, but no major faults have been reported over its lifetime. The Ford dealer experience was noted by owners as a bad point in owning a Ford Focus.
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 the model to go for if you need something practical, as the hatchback doesn't offer much room at all.
The 476-litre boot isn't the biggest in its class – it's 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 space extends to 1,502 litres. That ultimate capacity is 48 litres behind the Astra but seven litres better than the Golf.
The boot floor is low and flat in the Ford Focus Estate and the load area is wider than the hatchback’s - so loading items is easier. Handy optional extras include protective mats, luggage nets and a dog guard.
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.