Ford Focus estate
Price £17,880 - £24,685
- Practical family car
- Plenty of engine choice
- Durable, versatile
- Boot could be bigger
- Basic entry-level spec
- Top spec suffers heavy depreciation
At a glance
“The Ford Focus estate will appeal to family and business buyers alike, thanks to its mix of practicality and durability.”
The latest Ford Focus estate really does aim to offer the best of both worlds. It gets all the fun and efficiency of the hatchback, but with the added practicality and extra luggage space that you’re looking for in an estate car. The dimensions are larger and much more practical than the model it supersedes, while the Focus estate's bigger back end is pleasingly integrated into the hatchback's easy-on-the-eye design (some would say it actually improves it). It shares its equipment and super-efficient engines with its smaller brother, too, only now with some extra headroom for anyone travelling in the back. Ford knows that low running costs are often key in today's marketplace, so the Focus estate is generally cheap to run, but we’d avoid the top-spec models, which come loaded with technology that spike the price but do tend to depreciate steeply. Having said that, the introduction of Ford's deservedly award-winning turbo-petrol EcoBoost engines do help matters quite a lot, bringing more economical choices beyond the usual excellent efficiency of the diesel models. The range goes from pretty nuts’n’bolts (though hardly Dacia standards) right up to positively luxurious, so Ford basically has every base covered.
MPG, running costs & CO2
Efficient engines mean low running costs across the range
The Focus estate has been on a significant diet and is much lighter than the previous model, which, combined with more efficient engines across the whole range, means that running costs are reduced across the board. When you look at the wide selection of engines available in the Focus estate, it’s quite amazing that nearly all of them manage to emit less than 140g/km of CO2. Only the Ford Focus ST and ST-2 2.0-litre petrol models emit more, producing 169g/km, while returning a range low of 39.2mpg – but then it is a performance model. So other than the ST, road tax and insurance are both pretty low. Fuel economy is also better across the whole range, which means Ford has pulled off the trick of offering a car that’s fun to drive, immensely practical and relatively cheap to run. The most efficient engine is the 103bhp Edge ECOnetic 1.6-litre TDCi diesel, which returns a huge 83.1mpg in fuel economy and emits only 88g/km of CO2. The recently added 1.0-litre EcoBoost petrol engine, fitted with stop-start technology, is easily the most efficient petrol engine on offer, returning 57.7mpg and emitting 112g/km of CO2, with a maximum speed of 115mph and going from 0-62 in 12.7 seconds. Aside from the high-performance ST, the fastest engine from the the 1.6-litre EcoBoost, which accelerate up to a top speed of 139 mph and go from 0-62mph in 8.1 seconds.
Engines, drive & performance
The Focus estate is just as sharp to drive as the hatchback
With the Ford Focus estate only weighing 26kg more than the standard hatchback, its performance is barely affected and it remains one of the best cars to drive in its class. Thanks to some new mechanicals and underpinnings, the current Focus estate is also more comfortable and quieter than ever before, while the steering still proves as precise and responsive as the normal model. There’s very little body roll when driving through corners, and the engine range offers a lot of choice. You can choose from a 104bhp 1.6-litre petrol right up to a 161bhp 2.0-litre diesel. Other than the performance-focused ST model, the fastest engine on offer is the 148bhp 1.6-litre turbocharged EcoBoost petrol, but you do pay a lot of tax for that little bit of extra speed. We’d instead recommend the 113bhp 1.6-litre TDCi diesel Zetec, which is nearly as fast as the petrol but costs a significant £1,500 less. The excellent drive is further improved by its smooth six-speed gearbox, responsive power steering and decent grip. We’d avoid the optional 18-inch alloy wheels, because they reduce the estate's turning circle, which makes manoeuvring the car at low speeds more difficult. We’d also give the Powershift automatic gearbox a miss, especially as its manual mode is operated by two oddly placed up and down buttons on the side of the gearknob.
Interior & comfort
Wide range of seat adjustment boosts comfort inside the Focus
Ford has invested time and money in improving the Focus’ suspension, with customers generally unhappy with the previous car’s slightly firm ride. It’s a little bit of a case of being hoisted by your own petard, because generally the car’s set up was pretty impressive, so its only slight flaw got picked on. So, the current hatchback gives a comfortable ride for both driver and passengers, and the estate has followed suit. Getting into the best driving position is easy, with a full range of adjustment on hand for both the steering wheel and the seat, while the door pillars have been slimmed down to help improve the view. The seats in both the front and back are very spacious and comfortable, but there are probably a few too many buttons surrounding the stereo for easy use while on the move. If you stick to the standard 16-inch alloy wheels then you’ll get maximum ride comfort – add the larger optional wheels and you will feel jolts through the inside when driving over potholes and large bumps. You also hear some wind noise from the wing mirrors when driving at faster motorway speeds, but general noise is kept to a decent minimum.
Practicality & boot space
Interior is roomy and there is plenty of room in the boot
The current Focus estate has narrower, lower and longer dimensions than its predecessor, which combines with a clever design for the interior that actually creates more space inside, particularly in the back. It’s pretty easy to find a decent driving position, with a fully adjustable driver’s seat and full reach and rake adjustment on the steering wheel. The general visibility is good, but it’s quite difficult to see out of the back on occasion because of the narrow rear windscreen. In terms of boot space, if you’re trying to decides between going for the Focus estate or paying a bit more money for the Ford Mondeo estate, the Focus offers 476 litres with the back seats still in place, which is less than both the Volkswagen Golf estate and the Vauxhall Astra Sports Tourer. The Mondeo, in comparison offers 537 litres of space with all the seats up. Once you fold down the standard-fit 60:40 split-fold rear seats in the Focus estate, the space expands to 1,502 litres, which is then better than the Golf estate but still short of the huge Mondeo, which boasts 1,728 litres. The Focus estate does have a wider boot than the standard hatchback, though, which helps with loading large and bulky objects, plus the Focus’ retooled suspension means the boot floor is kept lower and is completely flat.
Reliability & safety
Five-star safety and should prove reliable
Ford’s main asset in terms of reliability is how common its cars are. That means replacement parts are cheap and easy to come by, and Ford has the biggest dealer network in the UK, so if something does happen to go wrong, you won’t have to travel very far at all to get it fixed. These are very compelling reasons to buy a Ford, but it is worth pointing out that Ford only came 23rd in the 2013 Driver Power customer satisfaction survey, with poor build quality being one of the most quoted reasons for owners’ frustration. The current Focus itself also fell a hefty 51 places down to number 70 in the list of top 100 cars. And that’s even with the Focus’ build quality still being the best it's ever been (this always been a problem in the past for Ford). However, the Ford Focus estate feels pretty good and it did secure the maximm five-star rating in the Euro NCAP crash safety tests. Its safety equipment was one of the positives in the Driver Power survey, in fact, with buyers being very happy with its front, side and curtain airbags, anti-skid control, lane departure warning, ISOFIX child seat anchor points and anti-lock brakes fitted as standard across the whole range. Plus, if you choose the extra Driver Assistance Pack, you’ll also get blind spot warning, cruise control, traffic sign recognition, driver alert, automatic high beam control and a low-speed impact avoidance system that brakes automatically if a potential accident is detected. And if you add on the Convenience Pack, electric folding wing mirrors and active park assist are also included.
Price, value for money & options
You pay a premium, but equipment is generous
The Ford Focus estate comes in the same four main specifications as the standard hatchback – entry-level Edge, mid-range Zetec and Titanium, and top-of-the-range Titanium X. However, the estate is quite a lot more expensive for every version, and is priced on a par with the VW Golf estate, which will have stronger resale value on the used car market when it comes time to sell it second-hand. Base Edge models come fitted with air-conditioning, a DAB digital radio, Bluetooth connectivity, electric windows and central locking as standard equipment, while the Zetec adds 16-inch alloy wheels, a handy quick-clear windscreen and heated door mirrors. The top-of-the-range Titanium and Titanium X models also include keyless go, cruise control, hill-start assist, and auomatic lights and automatic windscreen wipers fitted as standard.