Ford Focus Estate Review
Ford’s traditional small family estate combines practicality with driving fun
Strengths & weaknesses
- Fun to drive
- Plenty of trim and engine choices
- Lots of carrying capacity
- Restricted choice of engines and equipment
- Not as classy as similarly priced alternatives
- Likely to lose value quite quickly
In a way, the fact that the Ford Focus Estate exists at all is quite surprising. Its place in the market has been squeezed mercilessly. On one side it’s been threatened by premium rivals from Mercedes, Audi and BMW (at least in hatchback form), while buyers looking for space and practicality have increasingly become drawn to chunky SUVs such as the Nissan Qashqai or VW Tiguan.
Stuck between the glamour of a premium badge and the allure of the high-riding SUVs, then, the Focus Estate is in danger of looking a little old-fashioned. Yet the appeal of a small estate car like this is still strong. It provides just as much day-to-day practicality as an equivalent SUV, often offers more luggage space, and is likely to be more fuel efficient thanks to its lower, sleeker shape.
Ford is not the only maker still sticking to the small family estate formula – it’s vying for your money with the likes of the Vauxhall Astra Sports Tourer, Peugeot 308 SW and VW Golf Estate, to name just three rivals.
So how does the Ford fare? Well, first off it looks good, with balanced proportions and crisp lines helping to give it a classy feel. On the inside, there’s a modern-looking dash with an intuitive and attractive touchscreen entertainment screen that offers integrated Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. This is part of the new Ford SYNC 3 entertainment system – available on all but the basic Style trim level – and which offers live mapping data as well as a clever app system that lets you lock or start your car from your phone, or defrost the front windscreen remotely.
It’s a significant step up from the previous Ford Focus, both in quality and in usability, but it still lags behind the interiors of rivals like the dependably solid VW Golf or the stylish Peugeot 308. There is plenty of space, though: it has a longer wheelbase than the old Focus, and the windscreen has been shifted further forward, too, meaning there’s more room in the back seats. The boot is not significantly larger than before, but it offers a useful amount of space – plus some ingenious touches like extra cubby holes beneath the boot floor that are useful for storing valuables out of sight.
Where the Focus Estate really scores is in the way it drives. Ford has traditionally been very good at creating cars that a fun to drive along twisty roads, and the Focus is no exception. This is a car that always feels agile and in control. It’s comfortable, too, although the bigger wheels and firmer suspension on ST Line models make it a little less comfy.
And to ease everyday driving experiences, the Focus now comes with adaptive cruise control, speed sign recognition and a system that helps you to stay in your lane.
Engine options are a mixture of three-cylinder turbocharged petrols and four-cylinder turbodiesels with between 84bhp and 180bhp and either a six-speed manual or eight-speed automatic. Combined with seven different trim levels, this means there’s likely to be a focus estate to suit more or less any set of driving demands.
It might not be the most glamorous of cars, but there’s an honesty – and a flexibility – to the Focus Estate that makes it a very appealing choice for those looking for a simple family workhorse.
|Warranty||3 years/60,000 miles|
Best Ford Focus Estate for...
Best for Economy – Zetec 1.5L Ford EcoBlue 95
Simple, really; pick the lowest-powered diesel engine and you’ll get the best return when it comes to fuel economy.
Best for Families – Ford Focus Active X 1.5 EcoBoost 150
The raised ride height and chunky SUV styling is appealing, and a clever traction control system will get you out of muddy fields on day trips out.
Best for Performance – Ford Focus Estate ST Line X 1.5 Ecoboost 182
In the absence of a hot ST version of the Focus Estate, the ST Line fitted with the most powerful version of the 1.5-litre EcoBoost petrol is a lively enough substitute.
September 2018 New Ford Focus goes on sale
November 2018 1.5 EcoBoost petrol engine and 2.0 EcoBlue diesel engine, plus all Vignale and estate models arrive in dealerships.
Understanding Ford Focus Estate names
Engine 1.0 EcoBoost
The 1.0 EcoBoost petrol is available in several power outputs. The diesel models are labelled ‘EcoBlue’.
Ford is offering seven trim levels with the new Focus. Titanium is mid-spec and has nearly everything most people would want.
Gearbox Six-speed manual
There are two gearbox options, a six-speed manual and an eight-speed automatic.
Ford Focus Estate Engines
1.0 EcoBoost, 1.5 EcoBoost, 1.5 EcoBlue, 2.0 EcoBlue
The Focus Estate can be fitted with a choice of four engines – two petrol and two diesels. These are available in a variety of power outputs.
The smallest engine is the 1.0 EcoBoost. This comes with 84bhp, 99bhp or 123bhp. If you can stretch to the 99bhp version, we would recommend avoiding the cheapest and least powerful engine, as it feels overworked – the 99bhp EcoBoost is more economical. If you do a lot of motorway work, the most powerful 1.0 is the best bet.
Moving up to the 1.5 EcoBoost cives you either 148bhp or 180bhp. Both feel smooth and quick, but the most powerful of the two 1.5s is significantly more expensive than the slower version.
The 1.5 EcoBlue diesel is economical and gutsy enough, though we’d avoid the 94bhp version and go for the 118bhp option, which also brings the possibility of the smooth eight-speed automatic gearbox. ST Line and Vignale models are also available with a punchy 148bhp 2.0-litre diesel.
Ford Focus Estate Trims
Style, Zetec, ST-Line, ST-Line X, Titanium, Titanium X, Active X, Vignale
Style Even the most basic Focus Estate gets Bluetooth connectivity, alloy wheels, There’s DAB radio, automatic headlights and air conditioning.
Move up to Zetec and you get cruise control, front foglights, the Ford Quickclear heated windscreen, plus leather trim on the steering wheel and armrest. You also get the new SYNC 3 entertainment system with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.
ST-Line brings a sporty styling kit, larger alloy wheels, keyless start, and a sporty flat-bottomed steering wheel. ST-Line X offers a similar sporty vibe and brings a bigger entertainment screen and bigger alloy wheels, as well as privacy glass, front and rear facing cameras and electric folding door mirrors.
Titanium cars are supposed to be less sporty than ST-Line models, but with similar kit. These cars get rain-sensing wipers, parking sensors, and the big entertainment screen, but smaller alloy wheels.
Titanium X brings electric adjustment on the driver’s seat, part leather upholstery, and 17 inch alloy wheels (bigger than Titanium, not as big as ST-Line X).
The poshest and most expensive (for now) models are called Vignale. These get 18in alloy wheels, full leather seats, a Bang & Olufsen stereo, plus, the added bonus of better customer service from Ford dealers. This includes a free washdown (for the car) at the dealer.
Ford Focus Estate Reliability and warranty
The new Focus Estate was only introduced in November 2018, so it’s probably a bit soon to be judging its reliability just yet.
The three-year/60,000 miles warranty is a bit meagre compared with the seven-year warranty of a Kia or the five-year warranties from Toyota and Hyundai.
Used Ford Focus Estate
The Focus Estate has only just gone on sale, so don’t expect to find many on the used market just yet. And the estate is expected to be a relatively unusual bodystyle in the focus range, with only about 12% of all Focus sales.
One of Britain’s best-selling cars, the Ford Focus offers a very appealing combination of quality and value
The Ford Focus ST is a practical, sporty hatchback with impressive performance and a fun drive
Fastest Focus impresses with incredible pace - but lacks interior sophistication
The Ford Focus Active is a slightly taller version of Britain's favourite family car