The Auto Trader expert verdict: ★★★★★ ★★★★★ 3.4
The Ford Focus Estate is great to drive, well-equipped and practical, despite its advancing years. Indeed it’s still good enough to give rivals a run for their money.
Reasons to buy
- Great to drive
- Very practical
At a glance
- How good does it look? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
- What's the interior like? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
- How practical is it? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
- What's it like to drive? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
- How powerful is it? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
- How much will it cost me? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
- How reliable is it? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
- How safe is it? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
- How much equipment do I get? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
- Why buy? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
How good does it look?
When the original Ford Focus arrived in 1999 its design was seen as daring and radical. The current, second-generation model was merely an evolution of that first design, so the car no longer has the wow factor that it once did. But this is still one of the best-looking cars in its class, helped in no small way by a facelift in 2008 that provided a much neater, redesigned nose. The Focus Estate’s profile and stance are thoroughly modern still, with the plunging roof and rising waistline.
What's the interior like?
This is one area where the Focus is starting to show its age, as some of the plastics aren’t as high-quality as you might hope for. For example, the Volkswagen Golf and Vauxhall Astra dashboards have more of a premium feel. However, the dash design is clear and inviting, and the great thing about the Focus is that there’s plenty of standard equipment so you don’t feel short-changed.
How practical is it?
Another area where the Focus scores well is in terms of practicality – as you’d expect from an estate car. The cabin is well-proportioned with ample room for two in the front and another two in the back. Three can fit onto the bench seat, but the one in the middle won’t like it much if it’s a really long journey. Boot space is pretty good too, as there’s a useful 1,546 litres available with the seats down and 503 litres with them up. That compares with the Kia cee’d SW’s 534 litres or 1,664 litres and the Volkswagen Golf’s 505 or 1,495 litres. Tipping the seat backs forward is simplicity itself, and all cars have a 60/40 split facility.
What's it like to drive?
The Focus has always led the pack when it comes to handling, although this can be at the expense of the ride. While rivals such as the Kia cee’d, Peugeot 308 and Mazda3 are good, when it comes to the balance between a comfortable ride and really involving handling, the only car that comes close is the Volkswagen Golf.
How powerful is it?
Buy a Ford Focus estate and there’s no such thing as an out-and-out performance model, but none of the engines are weak. The 98bhp 1.6-litre petrol engine is fine for plodding, while the 142bhp 2-litre unit is great to use but the diesel engines are even nicer while also being significantly more economical too. Even the 89bhp 1.6-litre TDCi diesel can achieve 107mph along with 0-62mph in 13.6 seconds. These figures are left in the shade by the 109bhp 1.6-litre TDCi though, which can manage 110mph while the 62mph sprint is one second quicker. Cream of the crop is the 136bhp 2-litre TDCi, which packs a useful 236lb/ft of pulling power. Capable of 126mph, it’s a smooth and refined unit that packs plenty of low-down pulling power so you don’t have to rev it too much.
How much will it cost me?
You’ll pay a premium of around £1,000 to buy a diesel Focus Estate compared with its petrol-powered equivalent. However, big discounts are easier to score on petrol editions, and unless you do a massive annual mileage, you’re better off with a petrol car from a financial point of view. Either way, make sure you get a decent discount if buying a Focus. The Focus Econetic promises 70.6mpg, but the 1.6-litre TDCi 90 is cheaper and almost as frugal in the real world. It’s officially pegged at 64.2mpg. The 2-litre TDCi is credited with an official average fuel consumption of just 50.4mpg however, and in the real world even that figure will probably prove hard to achieve.
How reliable is it?
With the Focus produced in such massive numbers, it’s inevitable that there will be some reliability horror stories out there. However, this is a well-developed car that so far has proved to be pretty dependable. Glitches that have cropped up so far include leaks around the tailgate hinges, windscreens failing to seal properly, rust on the front wheel arches and the battery draining overnight.
How safe is it?
With a five-star EuroNCAP rating, the Focus Estate is as safe as its key rivals when it comes to structural integrity. It’s got plenty of safety kit too, as you’d expect from a fleet favourite. Alongside anti-lock brakes (ABS) and electronic brake force distribution (EBD) there are front, side and curtain airbags for those in the front as well as curtain bags for those in the rear. Automatic activation of the hazard warning lights under heavy braking is also standard across the range, as is electronic stability programme. However, if you want tyre pressure monitoring you’ll have to opt for range-topping Titanium trim.
How much equipment do I get?
Focus buyers can choose between five different trim options: Style, Zetec, Sport, Zetec S and Titanium. Entry-level cars come with steel wheels, six-speaker CD/tuner with auxiliary input, air-con and electrically operated windows in the front. Moving up one trim level adds alloy wheels, a heated windscreen, sportier steering wheel and sports seats, so while it isn’t much different to drive, it looks nicer to own. Moving further up the ladder brings larger alloy wheels, parking sensors, automatic lights and wipers plus cruise control, electrically operated rear windows and a higher level of interior trim.
Although an all-new Ford Focus is on the way, the current model still provides pretty much everything you need from a small estate. But depreciation is heavy, so make sure you get a good discount.