Ford Focus Estate 1.6 TDCi Titanium

Do fresh looks and compact size give practical estate the edge?

As the blue oval’s compact family car, the Focus should be in its element in this test – but can it match its bigger and more versatile stablemates in the real world? With a practical estate car body and sharp new looks, the model is a stylish choice. Yet the Focus is also Ford’s biggest-selling machine, so it doesn’t have the wow factor of the Kuga, nor oddball appeal of the S-MAX.

In its favour, though, are compact proportions. Only the tall-riding Kuga is shorter than the Focus, and drivers used to small models will definitely prefer it to the big Mondeo and S-MAX.

The latter both have the potential to make parking in multi-storeys an ordeal because of their 4.77-metre-long bodies. Of our quartet, the Focus is also the narrowest so, once you’ve manoeuvred into a bay, getting in and out is less of a problem.

Lift the tailgate, and the Focus doesn’t sacrifice much space to its larger rivals, either. With the rear seats in place, there’s a 482-litre boot. That’s easily big enough to accommodate the weekly shopping and only 46 litres smaller than the supersized Mondeo’s capacity. Fold the seats for a 1,525-litre, wide, flat load area.

For passengers, only the Kuga provides less rear room, yet tall adults can still fit in one behind the other in reasonable comfort in the Focus. The interior fittings might lack some of the polish and quality you’ll find elsewhere in our test, but the plastics are hard-wearing – essential in a family model.

Take to the road and the Focus is a talented and engaging car. It’s as adept at lugging you across country as it is capable of putting a smile on your face on the way to work. With a highly adjustable driving position and smooth ride, long-distance refinement is good. The 1.6-litre diesel is the smallest unit in our line-up, but doesn’t leave you feeling short-changed.

Against the clock the Focus took 11.1 seconds to sprint from 0-60mph, which ranks it behind its stablemates. However, the Mondeo was only two-tenths of a second quicker to complete the benchmark test, so there’s little between them. And the Focus really comes into its own at the pumps, with 38.8mpg fuel economy. Low CO2 emissions of only 119g/km also place it in the £35 road tax band, ensuring the Focus has the best running costs.

And you don’t have to go for expensive Titanium trim – the estate can be had for the lowest price here. It’s a frugal oil-burner and, on this evidence, a tough all-rounder to beat.

Details

Price: £18,945Model tested: Focus Estate 1.6 TDCi TitaniumChart position: 1WHY: Is the top seller here the most sensible? The Focus Estate offers lots of space and low costs.

Economy

In Titanium trim, the Focus Estate will set you back only £200 more than the Mondeo ECOnetic – and you’ll quickly recoup this extra outlay. Firstly, you will save £85 on road tax, while insurance and maintenance are both cheaper here. It even trumps its economy-tuned big brother at the diesel pump with 38.8mpg. The only concern is its 35.5 per cent residual – the worst of our quartet, although the Mondeo will retain only 37.7 per cent.

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