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.