The boot of the estate version has been made 43mm deeper (between the roofline and floor) and 25mm longer up to the second-row seatbacks than that of its predecessor. As Ford is quick to point out, it will now swallow a typical dog crate, so Amber the golden retriever should approve.
Overall back-seats-stowed loading length, meanwhile, has increased by a hefty 175mm, and the car’s normal five-seater-mode boot capacity has jumped by more than 100 litres to 608 litres in all. That’s 10% more than you get in the Vauxhall Astra Sports Tourer, about 5% more than in the Seat Leon ST. It’s also only a whisker behind the Skoda Octavia Estate.
All Focus Estates come with roof rails and all get a flexible boot floor as standard, the latter sliding back to reveal a storage space that can accommodate the car’s tonneau cover when you need to take it out. The back seats fold very easily, but their 40/60 split leaves the bigger half of the rear seatback on the driver’s side of the car: the wrong way around for optimal through-loading space and versatility of layout, at least as far as most right-hand drive customers will be concerned.
The Focus’s 180bhp, 1.5-litre turbocharged petrol engine has been reviewed on these pages before. It’s motor of a decently rousing performance level, albeit one you might not describe as fast; and one that works keenly and revs cleanly, although it only actually produces 30lb ft more torque than Ford’s top-level 1.0-litre petrol triple – which doesn’t feel like a great deal on the road.
Compared with other upper-level turbo petrol motors available for the money (the Volkswagen Group’s new 1.5 TSI Evo four-pot, for instance, or the PSA Group's 1.6-litre Puretech motor), it operates at something of a disadvantage on mechanical refinement. There’s certainly a background spikiness to the engine’s combustive character that’s a bit out of place in a car of a pseudo-luxury brief.
Along a similar line, the Focus Vignale’s ride is a touch noisy over coarser surfaces and short on isolation judged against the more refined family cars with which it might be reasonably compared. It handles well, just as you’d expect it to. It steers keenly, with a note of rubberiness about the wheel’s initial feel and response the only minor black mark. And it handles in agile, flat, balanced and engaging fashion.
The same can be said of the Focus in any trim level, however, and, on this evidence at least, it’s unclear what, if anything, Vignale adds to the sophistication of the Focus’ driving experience.
Being an estate, our test car did without the adaptive dampers that might have mellowed out its ride a little bit. It remains to be seen how much extra breadth they might add to the car’s dynamic range, then – but whatever they’re worth, we suspect they’ll be more effective on a Focus Titanium X with smaller wheels than the Vignale’s standard 18in rims.
As regards the optional safety and convenience kit you might pay extra for in a bid to make your Focus feel more premium, some of it’s worth having, but by no means all. The dynamic LED headlights of our test car (£425) are fairly bright and seem to be able to avoid dazzling other road users quite well when left on automatic high beam, but their active cornering functionality isn't particularly effective.