Matt Saunders
20 June 2011

What is it?

Our first taste of the mark three Focus wagon, and we’re sampling it in relatively modest 1.6-litre TDCi form, and Zetec trim. So while other more expensive examples of the compact estate have more power and more generous helpings of toys from the Focus’ long optional equipment allotment, this one’s likely to be the volume seller.

Ford’s direction of development of the Focus has been the subject of plenty of criticism from us over the last year or so. In an attempt to make it a global hit, the Blue Oval has enhanced and revised its former UK chart-topper in very many objective and sensible ways, but also sanitised it slightly. But however regrettable the latter may be, the former updates promise, at least, that this estate version of the new mid-sized Ford should be particularly good.

What’s it like?

Emitting 109g/km of CO2, this Focus is one of the more accommodating cars on offer in VED road tax band B – an attractive fleet option too - and it’s priced a little above VW’s 1.6-litre TDi Golf Bluemotion Technology and Vauxhall’s 1.7-litre CDTi Astra Ecoflex. And however humble its flavour, it’s a well-executed family car with plenty of impressive attributes.

Like the 1.6-litre TDCi five-door we road tested three months ago, it’s a refined performer with a finely-honed and comfortable ride, and it isolates occupants from road noise and engine vibration as well as any sub-£20k diesel-powered option we can think of.

Performance is modest, but what urge is available is easy to make the most of thanks to a six-speed manual gearbox – something key rivals of this car don’t get. Engine response at low revs feels poor at first, as if the lump’s low-end torque isn’t enough to get the car moving comfortably – but it’s a relatively easy problem to overcome once you reassess how you juggle throttle and clutch.

On the move, 199lb ft of torque is enough in the mid-range to motivate the Focus along ahead of most traffic, even heavily loaded. And even heavy loaded, the Focus Estate balances a compliant ride with good body control and commendable high-speed stability.

It doesn’t steer with the same sparkle as the last car, and isn’t particularly lively or engaging on an interesting road – but while that’s regrettable with reference to the Focus’ legacy, it’s no great condemnation relative to the car’s current competitor set.

The Focus Estate rides on the same wheelbase as the five door, so unlike certain other estates it offers those in the rear no extra legroom than the hatchback. There is a little more headroom back there, as well as a 476-litre boot that expands to 1502 litres once you’ve flipped up the rear seat cushions and folded the seat backs (which go almost, if not quite flat).

That’s not a class-leading capacity by any means – a Skoda Octavia swallows fully 153 litres more – but it’s enough for all but the very biggest loads. More importantly, the load bay is just about long enough, with the seats down, to carry fridges and the like. Thanks to new inclined rear dampers and a special boot floor, the estate’s load bay is also 119mm wider than the hatchback’s.

Should I buy one?

It may not be the obvious choice for those looking for an affordable family wagon, neither is it the most practical C-segment estate in outright terms, but for the same reasons we’d recommend the regular five-door Focus, the estate’s equally good.

Well-mannered, desirable, spacious enough and decently cheap to run, it justifies a relatively high price point with ease. And on top of that, sad though it is but nonetheless true, the new Focus’ undistinguished handling is somehow easier to accept from an estate than from a smaller five-door hatch.

 

Ford Focus Estate 1.6 TDCi Zetec

Price: £19,595; Top speed: 120mph; 0-62mph: 11.1sec; Economy: 67.3mpg; Co2: 109g/km; Kerb weight: 1368kg; Engine type, cc: 4 cyls in line, 1560cc, turbodiesel; Power: 113bhp at 3600rpm; Torque: 199lb ft at 1750-2500rpm; Gearbox: 6-spd manual

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Join the debate

Comments
32

Re: Ford Focus Estate 1.6 TDCi

3 years 18 weeks ago

The fact the Focus no longer has its ultimate sparkle is going to matter little to its potential estate customers. What they will be looking for is practicality, running costs and looks - all of which it seems to be on par with its main competitors.

From my point of view though, the new Astra Estate thumps the Focus in the looks department. With the handling sparkle lost, I would find it hard to choose the Focus over an Astra.

 

 

It's all about the twisties........

Re: Ford Focus Estate 1.6 TDCi

3 years 18 weeks ago

Dogs dinner at the front, and mondeo put in the tumble drier at the rear. I really bloody hate the new focus, which is a shame as soon there will be millions of the things on the roads.

Agreed, the astra is a far superior (looking at least) car inside and out

Re: Ford Focus Estate 1.6 TDCi

3 years 18 weeks ago

rodenal wrote:
Agreed, the astra is a far superior (looking at least) car inside and out
I would hardly call the Astra a great looking car either, I find it all a little bland, although I prefer it over the Focus. Interior looks nicer, if fussier.

In styling terms, I cannot think of one decent looking family hatch. Golf, Megane, 308, i30, cee'd, A3, C4, 1-series, focus, astra, 3, Leon etc are all dull or not good looking.

Only interesting one is the Civic, and that's starting to date now.

I think the last great looking family hatches are the first Focus, and the 306.

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10 years of Smart ownership over, sensible car mode activated

Re: Ford Focus Estate 1.6 TDCi

3 years 18 weeks ago

superstevie wrote:
In styling terms, I cannot think of one decent looking family hatch.

I can, Alfa Giulietta

I saw a couple of new Focus' the other day, I thought they were made by Kia! Bland looking,

Teg is right most customers for the Focus don't care about the handling, its more about comfort, but probably they probably do care about the looks.

The new Focus means that in my opinion, the Fiesta is the best car Ford make.

Re: Ford Focus Estate 1.6 TDCi

3 years 18 weeks ago

I like the Guiletta, but it can look awkward from some angles, especially the front. the rear looks great.

agree about the fiesta

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10 years of Smart ownership over, sensible car mode activated

Re: Ford Focus Estate 1.6 TDCi

3 years 18 weeks ago

superstevie wrote the following post at Jun 21, 2011 3:48 PM:

rodenal wrote:
Agreed, the astra is a far superior (looking at least) car inside and out
I would hardly call the Astra a great looking car either, I find it all a little bland, although I prefer it over the Focus. Interior looks nicer, if fussier.

In styling terms, I cannot think of one decent looking family hatch. Golf, Megane, 308, i30, cee'd, A3, C4, 1-series, focus, astra, 3, Leon etc are all dull or not good looking.

Only interesting one is the Civic, and that's starting to date now.

I think the last great looking family hatches are the first Focus, and the 306. So is the Megane sport tourer much nicer looking than the focus estate so between either that or the Astra estate . They seem to be the the best looking estates in this class . As for hatchbacks I think in the right colour the Megane hatch is a fine looking car so is a Fiat Bravo and a Seat Leon . The Mazda 3 I think is quite nice looking actually and should age well .

Re: Ford Focus Estate 1.6 TDCi

3 years 18 weeks ago

FastRenaultFan wrote:
As for hatchbacks I think in the right colour the Megane hatch is a fine looking car so is a Fiat Bravo and a Seat Leon . The Mazda 3 I think is quite nice looking actually and should age well
I forgot about the Bravo, but it is a car I like the look of. Leon has never looked right from day one and 3 is awkward looking.

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10 years of Smart ownership over, sensible car mode activated

Re: Ford Focus Estate 1.6 TDCi

3 years 18 weeks ago

FastRenaultFan wrote:
In styling terms, I cannot think of one decent looking family hatch. Golf, Megane, 308, i30, cee'd, A3, C4, 1-series, focus, astra, 3, Leon etc are all dull or not good looking.

Only interesting one is the Civic, and that's starting to date now.

Agreed they all a pretty bland bunch in this class these days. I suppose interesting is one way to describe the Civic, I'd go for wacky, but agree it is dating very badly. As was mentioned earlier the Alfa is about the only decent looking car in class, but as a modern day Alfa it's a risky buy. The blog however is about the Focus estate, sounds pretty competant if uninspiring so I guess it will sell well enough, not sure I could live with the hideous dashboard design though.

Re: Ford Focus Estate 1.6 TDCi

3 years 18 weeks ago

TegTypeR wrote:
The fact the Focus no longer has its ultimate sparkle is going to matter little to its potential estate customers

Not sure you are up with the times, Estates are all about style these days (hence ultimate carrying capacity is not such a big prob). I personally find the Focus a much more interesting vehicle overall than the Astra, I think it would keep me satisifed for a longer period of ownership on all levels. I get very bored with cars very quickly if they dont challenge me in some way or other.

I think Ford turn out a pretty good range of cars these days, the grand C-max has a very good stance, long wheelbase and understated looks.

Re: Ford Focus Estate 1.6 TDCi

3 years 18 weeks ago

jonfortwo wrote:
I personally find the Focus a much more interesting vehicle overall than the Astra, I think it would keep me satisifed for a longer period of ownership on all levels.

The new Astra Estate looks good, but I too would take the Focus. The Astra's engines are not great, the diesels aren't as clean as in the Focus and I think the interior of the Focus looks easier to use. Plus the Focus has better equipment levels, particularly higher up the model list.

I should confess to looking for the positives in the Focus because it could be my new company car in a years time. I'm disappointed in the reports on the handling, but given the state of our roads, better ride and refinement would be a fair exchange. I would take this estate though over the hatch for both its' looks (much better than the hatch) and extra practicality; I've read the boot on the new Focus hatch is smaller than the old one which is only just big enough for me. Seems like a backward step.

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