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Ford Focus Estate review - Engines, performance and drive

Great handling that’s on-par with the hatch models makes the Focus Estate the driver’s choice in the class

Overall Auto Express Rating

4.5 out of 5

Engines, performance and drive Rating

4.5 out of 5

Price
£29,630 to £40,305
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The Ford Focus Estate is the first choice for enthusiastic drivers, as it shares the class-leading handling characteristics of the hatchback version. In fact, the two have different rear suspension set-ups but you’ll struggle to tell them apart from the driving seat.

The estate uses a multi-link rear suspension set-up that’s more sophisticated than the twist beam configuration in the mainstream five-door hatchback models, this independent rear end being configured more like that of the Focus ST hot hatch. The Active models also get a ride height increased by 30mm for a little extra off-road ability and the ST-Line models sit 10mm lower than standard on their sports suspension for a slightly livelier feel. 

Crisp electrically-powered steering and an agile chassis mean the car responds nimbly to changes of direction in all its various forms and is easy to position on the road. The ride quality is supple over all but the sharpest of bumps and successfully takes the edge off even these. There’s no real ride and handling disadvantage to choosing the Active variants, maybe a degree of extra body roll in corners, and the ST-line models are barely any less comfortable, both testament to the skill of Ford’s engineers in setting up the car. 

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The manual gearbox is pretty slick, and the eight-speed torque converter auto in the diesels is generally a smooth performer. The seven-speed Powershift dual-clutch automatic is similarly smooth but there’s no option to shift through the gears yourself via the shift lever and only ST-Line models get steering wheel shift paddles. In the end, it’s not quite as seamlessly impressive as the DSG box in rival VW Golf models.

All Focus models get selectable drive modes that adjust the parameters of the electronic power steering, the throttle pedal and the automatic gearbox (if the car has one) according to Normal, Sport and Eco modes. The Active models add Slippery and Trail modes in line with their mild off-roading remit. 

Engines, 0-60 acceleration and top speed

There’s a strong range of petrol and diesel engines on offer with the Ford Focus Estate. Petrol power comes from the 1.0-litre EcoBoost engine, available either in standard 123bhp form, or two versions with 48v mild-hybrid technology producing 123bhp and 153bhp. The lower-powered cars use either a six-speed manual, or eight-speed auto transmission. The 153bhp version is offered with the manual 'box or the seven-speed dual-clutch auto and is the quickest in the core 1.0-litre range, achieving 0-62mph in 9.0s as a manual or 8.4s with the automatic gearbox. Top speeds are 131mph and 129mph respectively.

We’re used to Ford’s Ecoboost three-cylinder engines turning in levels of performance that belie their size by now but it’s worth re-asserting that they have plenty of performance for the Focus. Buyers should not be put off by the lack of cubic capacity. There’s also that slightly coarse, engine note that adds a bit of character to proceedings under hard throttle. It means these aren’t the most refined petrol engines in the class but noise is far from intrusive when cruising. 

The sporty 2.3-litre Focus ST Estate model delivers its 276bhp via a six-speed manual or eight-speed auto gearbox and manages the 0-62mph sprint in 5.8s regardless of transmission. The top speed is 155mph. 

That leaves just the 1.5-litre EcoBlue diesel with 118bhp, now that the 2.0-litre diesel is no longer offered. Here, there’s the same choice of six-speed manual gearbox or eight-speed auto as you get with the ST. The manual variant can have 0-62mph dispatched in 9.8s whereas the auto takes 10.6s. Top speeds are 122mph and 120mph respectively.

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Which Is Best

Cheapest

  • Name
    1.0 EcoBoost Hybrid mHEV Titanium 5dr
  • Gearbox type
    Manual
  • Price
    £29,630

Most Economical

  • Name
    1.0 EcoBoost Hybrid mHEV Titanium 5dr
  • Gearbox type
    Manual
  • Price
    £29,630

Fastest

  • Name
    2.3 EcoBoost ST 5dr Auto
  • Gearbox type
    Auto
  • Price
    £40,305
Head of digital content

Steve looks after the Auto Express website; planning new content, growing online traffic and managing the web team. He’s been a motoring journalist, road tester and editor for over 20 years, contributing to titles including MSN Cars, Auto Trader, The Scotsman and The Wall Street Journal.

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