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Ford Focus Estate (2011 – ) expert review

By Jon Quirk, 24th June 2011

The verdict

The Ford Focus Estate is a good-looking addition to the line-up of Britain's best-selling car. It's also more practical and packed with equipment.

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Expert rating:

3.7

Pros

  • Superb refinement
  • Much improved interior quality
  • Engaging to drive

Cons

  • Other rivals offer more practicality
  • Some specifications can get pricey
  • Up front can feel cramped

Full Review

1. Exterior

It isn’t enough for cars like the Ford Focus Estate to be deeply practical. They must now be stylish too, which probably goes some way to explain the arrival of cars like the Vauxhall Astra Sport Tourer and Volvo V60. Ford doesn’t use marketing jargon to sell this car – the Focus Estate remains an estate – but the company’s kinetic design language has been used to full effect here. From the large trapezoidal front grille, to the zig-zag character line identifiable in profile, the Ford Focus Estate eschews a more mature, classier shape than previously. The rear end of the Ford Focus Estate is also less controversial than its hatchback sibling, too. Importantly, it looks good, particularly in our test model’s Candy Red with optional 18-inch five-spoke alloys. It’s just a shame that the elongated body couldn’t incorporate the hatchback’s very neat integrated fuel filler.

Our rating: 4

2. Interior

Inside the new Ford Focus Estate is a significant step up in perceived quality over the previous generation model, even though it does look a lot like a big Fiesta with the standard DAB audio system. If contemporary is your thing, then you’ll like this cabin. There’s a rich mix of materials with both smooth and angular surfaces that contrast confidently against the staunch conservatism of the Volkswagen Golf, firmly routing it in the now. Unfortunately, the wrap-around dashboard does eat into driver and passenger legroom, so check that you don’t feel too cramped.

Our rating: 4

3. Practicality

The Ford Focus Estate may have the same wheelbase as the hatchback, but it is 198cm longer. In isolation, the Estate appears to be very well resolved. The boot has a very low lip, making loading and unloading incredibly easy. There are plenty of practical considerations in the back too, like the pair of chunky grab handles, 12v power lead, curry hooks, space saver tyre and a set of rear seats that fold flat. Just. Unfortunately, the boot of the new Ford Focus Estate isn’t actually that big. Standard capacity is 476-litres, extending to 1,502-litres, which is significantly bettered by the Skoda Octavia Estate (580, 1,655-litres), not to mention the outgoing Ford Focus Estate (503, 1,546-litres). While we confess to this being a much prettier replacement, we still want the functionality to be there.

Our rating: 3

4. Ride and handling

On those hefty shoulders of reinvention is a car that has been a ride and handling pioneer in the family hatchback segment since 1998. Good news then that the new Ford Focus Estate remains one of the most engaging cars to drive in this segment and will help whittle away those dull, interminable hours spent on the M6. The electric power steering is a little lacking in feel but it weights up nicely as you gain speed. Ride quality is impressive, laden or unladen, while the body control and high-speed stability are commendable.

Our rating: 4

5. Performance

A range of petrol and diesel engines are available for the Ford Focus Estate, but the best-selling oil burner is expected to be the 1.6-litre diesel. Like in the Ford C-MAX, it needs a generous boot of throttle to get moving but has more than enough performance to carry a car-load of people and luggage. More impressive is the 148bhp version of Ford’s excellent Ecoboost petrol engine. It’s an all-aluminium unit that’s been turbocharged to offer the performance of a naturally aspirated 2.0-litre petrol but with better emissions and fuel consumption. The more we drive this engine, the more impressed we become. Buyers seem to be heading this way too, with early indications suggesting that this could become the biggest seller. We don’t blame them.

Our rating: 4

6. Running costs

The 1.6TDCi emits 109g/km of CO2, putting it in VED car tax band B, and has a combined fuel consumption of 67.3mpg. However, it is priced a little above the Volkswagen Golf 1.6-litre TDi Golf Bluemotion Technology and is unlikely to achieve the same residual performance. The 1.6-litre EcoBoost emits 139g/km of CO2, pitching it into Group E, and does 47.1mpg on the combined run.

Our rating: 3

7. Reliability

It’s too early to comment on residual scores for the Ford Focus Estate but the amount of endurance testing this car went through, including 300,000 door shut tests, should help ensure quality will last.

Our rating: 4

8. Safety

Ford is expecting a full five-star Euro NCAP rating for the Focus Estate. All models come with ABS, electronic stability programme and traction control, as well as driver, passenger, front and rear curtain airbags. The optional Driver Assistance Pack boosts the level of active safety kit with automatic high beam, blind spot detection, traffic sign recognition, lane departure warning plus technology that detects if you’re feeling drowsy and a low speed safety system that will apply the brakes on your behalf  if it detects a collision is imminent.

Our rating: 4

9. Equipment

The entry-level Ford Focus Estate Edge gets 16-inch alloys, air conditioning, DAB digital radio, roof rails and a tonneau cover as standard, plus Ford’s Easy-Fuel system to prevent any refuelling mishaps. Zetec adds sports-style front seats, fog lights and some chrome detailing while Titanium gets an upgraded Sony stereo and hill start assist. Top spec Titanium X is marked out by the daytime running LED headlights. Zetec upwards benefit from the excellent Quickclear heated front windscreen.

Our rating: 4

10. Why buy?

The Ford Focus Estate has never been so stylish and refined, nor has it had such a compelling engine in the form of the 1.6-litre EcoBoost.

Our rating: 3

Second opinion

Adrian Higgins, web editor

The new Focus design fits the estate even better than the hatchback.Some of the detailing, including the wraparound rear lights seems less fussy on the longer car.

Inside, it’s the same winning mix of clear information and smart styling as the hatch version. Whether or not you like the protruding central console will come down to personal taste.

Seats up, the estate provides more than half the luggage space again of the hatch, but the model’s famed driving dynamics mean you soon forget you’re driving the bigger car. (The estate is longer but both cars sit on the same platform.)

It’s comfortable for rear passengers too. There’s plenty of legroom and headroom.

Estates might be more popular on mainland Europe but all the same around one in seven of UK models will feature the longer body and that number is expected to grow.

The 115bhp 1.6 TDCI requires patience but there are more powerful diesel options as well as the same impressive line-up of petrol engines  found in the hatch.

Expert review 3.7stars

  • Exterior4
  • Interior4
  • Practicality3
  • Ride and handling4
  • Performance4
  • Running costs3
  • Reliability4
  • Safety4
  • Equipment4
  • Why buy?3

Our recommendations

Best on a budget:

1.6 Duratec Ti-VCT (105 PS) Edge

Best-seller:

1.6 EcoBoost (150 PS) Titanium

Blow the budget:

2.0 Duratorq TDCi (163 PS) Titanium X

The Focus Estate remains one of the most engaging cars to drive in this segment. Ride quality is impressive.