The Ford Focus Estate is a family car with great fuel economy, an engaging drive and the latest driving tech, but alternative estates have bigger boots
The Ford Focus Estate was first introduced in 1998, but now in its fourth generation you get Ford’s latest interior and safety tech alongside a selection of efficient engines. The Focus Estate is competing with alternatives such as the Skoda Octavia Estate, Hyundai i30 Estate and Vauxhall Astra Estate.
Inside, there’s a definite step upmarket compared with the previous Ford Focus Estate. You’ll spot a lot of soft-touch plastic extending from the dashboard to the top of the door cards, while there’s several tasteful trim inserts for you to choose from and some of the knobs have a premium metal finish. On the downside, build quality is inconsistent.
High-spec models use Ford’s SYNC3 infotainment system with sat nav, voice control, and smartphone mirroring although the 8.0-inch touchscreen doesn’t have the most intuitive menus among alternatives nor the most eye-catching graphics. Cheaper models get a smaller 6.5-inch touchscreen that loses the built-in navigation but can still display your phone’s sat nav.
Along with all its up-to-date tech, the Ford Focus Estate can now finally compete with the Golf and the Vauxhall Astra for boot space – the boot capacity with the rear seats up is 608 litres, rising to 1,653 once you fold the rear seats down. That’s a couple of soft bags more than what the Golf or Astra can hold but roughly a big suitcase short of what you can fit in a Skoda Octavia Estate. That said, the Focus Estate should be practical enough for most family needs.
The Focus Estate is a practical family car that you can really enjoy driving
There is a good selection of petrol and diesel engines, many of them available with an eight-speed automatic that takes some stress out of stop-start traffic.
Out of the two available petrol engines it’s best to go for the smaller 1.0-litre. Avoid the lesser power outputs of 85 and 100bhp because they really struggle with a full boot and head for the 125bhp version – it’s nippy enough and decent fuel economy is easily achievable as you’re working your way through the enjoyable six-speed manual gearbox fitted as standard. There’s also a 1.5-litre petrol with up to 182bhp should you want more go, but most will find the 1.0-litre perfectly adequate.
The diesel engines are masters of fuel economy. With either 95 or 120bhp, the smaller 1.5-litre diesel is far from quick but on a long run you can see upwards of 60mpg. If you plan to transport heavy luggage either go for the 120bhp 1.5-litre diesel or upgrade to the 150bhp 2.0-litre diesel. The big diesel has all the power you’d need but does push up the price.
Whichever engine you choose, the Ford Focus Estate is great to drive. Its light, but direct steering gives you confidence and it never becomes uncomfortable over lumps and bumps. Engines with higher output (1.5-litre petrol and 2.0-litre diesel) get a more sophisticated rear suspension set up but the differences are not that huge. What does make a difference is the lower and stiffer suspension on ST Line models which improves handling further.
The regular Focus got the maximum five stars for safety from Euro NCAP when crash tested so it’s easy to assume this estate version will be just as safe. Automatic emergency braking is fitted to all models and you can spec up an assistance pack which includes lane departure warning and an adaptive cruise control that can recognise speed limit signs and re-adjust your speed accordingly.
So, ultimately a Skoda Octavia Estate is bigger inside, but if you’re looking for a still-spacious, practical, economical and fun-to-drive family car, the Ford Focus Estate could well be the car for you.
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