On the road, the Focus Estate feels little different to the hatchback
So where exactly does that leave the likes of this new Ford Focus Estate? Possibly in a better position than you might at first think. For starters, as more buyers turn away from diesel cars, here on the motoring desk we’re of the opinion that they might return to estates for sheer reasons of running costs and fuel economy. Put simply, compared to its equivalent crossover, an estate will often boast a bigger boot, better emissions and fuel consumption, cost less to run and often handle better on the road too.
That last point is certainly high on the agenda for this Focus Estate. When we drove the new Focus hatchback this summer it was great to see a return to form for the blue oval in terms of the car’s handling. The same was the case for its styling, although we were never convinced by the rather generic rear look, something that’s obviously thankfully changed with this estate.
Crucially too, for all the general demise of the estate car market across all new sales, this sector of the market has traditionally been a strong one. The reason why is largely down to the respective boots of the likes of the Focus, Vauxhall Astra and Peugeot 308.
Odd though it may seem, they usually feature more luggage space than their larger model stablemates, so the Astra offers more space than the Insignia and this Focus has a larger boot than the Mondeo.
For company car fleets, those statistics are crucial for those regularly carrying equipment or supplies. More on that later.
The engine line-up for this Focus load-lugger echoes that of the hatchback with five petrol engines and three diesels, all of which are turbocharged. The petrols range from a 1.0-litre 85bhp up to a 182bhp 1.5-litre, the latter capable of a 0 to 60mph time of 8.5 seconds along with a 137mph top speed, plus 50.4mpg average fuel economy and 127g/km emissions.
The diesels meanwhile start from a 95bhp 1.5-litre up to a 150bhp 2.0-litre. Emissions range between 96 and 123g/km with fuel consumption as low as 78.5mpg.
Infotainment system is easy to use
On the road, this Focus Estate feels little different to its hatchback counterpart. The steering is direct and sharp with a good level of feedback and involvement and it’s no exaggeration to say that beyond looking in the rear view mirror, you could easily be none the wiser about the extra amount of car behind you.
DRIVING the 120bhp 1.5-litre turbo-diesel is a reasonable rather than outstanding combination for this estate too. It’s smooth and certainly not slow in the mid-range but it can’t quite provide the swell of low-down grunt that you might expect and there’s a very narrow band of power in the rev range – outside of which it can feel positively lethargic.
Keep within that though and it can be hustled down a twisty B road with a level of enjoyment and involvement that you perhaps wouldn’t imagine for an estate car.
Ford expects the ST Line and ST Line X to be the most popular trim level with the estate. Understandable, given its sportier looks, although it will also be offered in Active and Vignale trim levels too.
The beauty of those ST Line models is only skin deep however, as the sports suspension that comes with the trim certainly firms up the ride more than some buyers might be expecting. It’s certainly not sports car firm but at the same time, given that our test car was on 17in wheels and that 18in are also available, we’d expect better absorption of road imperfections than this.
That aside, this Focus is an otherwise comfortable place to be. The seats are good and supportive and it’s easy to find a decent driving position, although we’d still like the driver’s seat to go a little lower on its height adjustment.
The Focus Estate looks better than the hatch
The interior is smart enough and well built but some of the plastics lower down the cabin could be a lot better and the same goes for some of the controls that you frequently touch, such as those for the ventilation. We do like the door pockets – which are considerably larger than they first appear – as well as the sliding cup holders that can be easily but cleverly adjusted to fit different water bottles.
The Sync infotainment works well too and is intuitive enough to easily use on the move, with handily oversized “prodable” controls.
Further back, the Ford scores highly on practicality as well. Head and legroom in the back seats are good, although there’s only one 12-volt power socket; not enough in this modern age, especially for a car like this aimed at families.
At 608 litres with the rear seats up, the boot is a good size and shape too (there’s 1,653 litres with them folded down). There’s also a false floor for items that need to be kept more secure and a space-saver spare wheel together with pull-handles to lower the rear seats and a pair of shopping/curry hooks on each side of the boot.
It’s easy to step away from this new Focus Estate with a sense of respect. Perhaps the biggest compliment that you can pay this new estate though is that on the road, and even when driven hard, it feels little different to any other Focus model; high praise indeed given how much we like that car.
It’s high time that family drivers started looking at estate cars once again.
Model: Ford Focus Estate
Price range: £19,400-£28,000
Engine range: Turbo-petrol – 1.0, 1.0 100bhp, 1.0 125bhp, 1.5, 1.5-litre 182bhp; Turbo-diesel – 1.5, 1.5 120bhp, 2.0-litre
Power: 0 to 60mph in 8.5 seconds, 137mph top speed
Average fuel economy: 78.5mpg (1.5TD)
CO2 emissions range: 96-138g/km
Rivals: Peugeot 308, Vauxhall Astra, VW Golf