New car review

Ford Focus Estate review

Can the latest estate version of Ford’s mass-selling Focus turn buyers away from new challengers?

Summary

Having taken what was a very good family hatch and made it a whole lot better, Ford has now applied the same treatment to the estate version. At the same time, the opportunity has been taken to address its predecessor’s major failing – you can now actually make good use of the estate’s load compartment.
Design
8.0
Comfort
8.0
Driving
9.0
Value for money
8.0
Safety
9.0

Summary

Having taken what was a very good family hatch and made it a whole lot better, Ford has now applied the same treatment to the estate version. At the same time, the opportunity has been taken to address its predecessor’s major failing – you can now actually make good use of the estate’s load compartment.

60-second summary

What is it?
The latest Ford Focus Estate is the load-lugging version of the fourth-generation mass-selling family hatch.

Key features
Much more space, all new tech of hatch, independent suspension.

Our view
The latest Focus hatch has been very well received and the Estate should be equally popular.

It has all the technology, quality and performance improvements of its hatch sister – plus a whole lot of extra space it badly needed.

Similar cars
Vauxhall Astra Sports Tourer, Volkswagen Golf Estate, Skoda Octavia Estate

Full review

Introduction

We reviewed the fourth-generation Ford Focus back in September 2018, which Ford at the time stated was intended to reclaim number one spot in the UK best-selling car chart – displacing its smaller sibling the Fiesta in the process.

Vital to that aim will be the fleet-favourite, motorway-trawling estate variant, which is now heading for showrooms with a promise of major advances over the outgoing model.

Like its hatchback sister, the Focus estate faces even tougher challenges this time around. Many buyers are abandoning traditional family cars for SUVs, something the Focus will attempt to address later in the year with a jacked-up Active model. Meanwhile, the traditional competition has been joined by very strong new contenders from the likes of Kia and Hyundai, and even BMW and Audi, fuelled by competitive finance offers.

But while the latest Focus hatch just needed to improve on an already very good package, something it did very well, the estate can address a major failing of its predecessor. The old car just wasn’t very spacious…

The estate is like the hatch and unlike its predecessor pitched towards a European, rather than the compromise-inducing global, audience, and it gets the same front-end treatment as the hatch. This includes a longer bonnet and more distinctive visuals that also create what Ford claims are class-leading aerodynamics. The rear is less distinctive, rather conventional while avoiding slipping into a bulbous look, which is all the more commendable considering the interior space gains.

Buying and owning a Ford Focus Estate

Eventually, the estate will be offered in seven grade options, like the hatch, prices starting from £19,400 which is more competitive than the outgoing version.

The trims range from Style up through Zetec and Titanium, and then the buyer chooses to go either sporty with two versions of the ST-Line, luxury with the Vignale or eventually SUV-style through the Active variants.

We remain a bit bemused by Vignale. This is Ford’s attempt to do premium, and buyers will enjoy such niceties as a bespoke bumper and hexagonal grille, LED headlamps and lots of tech such as an upmarket B&O audio system and active parking assistance, all in an interior that can be sculpted in posh Windsor leather.

It’s just that it was only three years ago that we attended the launch of Vignale as a brand, when we were told that it would only be offered on selected models all of which would be hand-finished by craftsmen, and sold by a carefully chosen network of specialist dealers each of which would have a separate lounge for Vignale customers.

Now Vignale is just a trim level, available right across the range even on the Fiesta supermini, and even the smallest Ford dealer has to make room for a Vignale space…

Of the 12% of Focus customers that choose the estate, more than 45% will go for the two ST-Line trims as applied to our test car. ST-Line is a good choice, costing around £1,400 more than entry-level Style, adding such niceties as keyless starting, sports-tuned suspension, and with enough styling additions to make the car stand out from the Focus crowd without going the full Vignale route.

Pay another £1,500 for the ST-Line X, however, and you get a whole load of extra tech, from front and rear parking sensors to electronic climate control, heated front seats with the driver’s electrically adjustable, and the Sync 3 infotainment system with voice control and navigation.

As on the hatch, safety rates highly on the estate – autonomous emergency braking is standard with pedestrian and cyclist detection and the car carries a five-star Euro NCAP rating. The independent UK safety body Thatcham Research also named the new Focus as one of its ten safest new cars for 2019.

And of course there is a whole lot of tech on the options list, such as a new more advanced auto parking system, adaptive cruise control that can stop and go in traffic jams, headlights that see around corners before you get to them and adjust according to the information on road signs, and a host of other driver safety aids.

Continued on next page: Interior, drive and our verdict

Andrew Charman
Andrew Charman
Andrew is a road test editor for The Car Expert. He is a member of the Guild of Motoring Writers, and has been testing and writing about new cars for more than 20 years. Today he is well known to senior personnel at the major car manufacturers and attends many new model launches each year.

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