Ford Focus Estate 1.6 Ecoboost Titanium28 | 11 | 2011Scotcars rating

    Ford gives the 'new' Focus the estate treatment ... but how good is it in the real world?

    THE FORD FOCUS has long been one of Britain's 'go-to' models. But while the hatch has captured everyone's imagination, what a lot of people tend to forget is there's an excellent estate version in the range as well.

    Seven years after the original Focus appeared in 1998, the Mk3 has arrived, and with it an updated and revamped estate model.

    Like the hatch, the estate comes with all the new clever aerodynamic and fuel-saving goodies. There's stop-start and active grille shuttering, plus dual-clutch gearboxes, five doors as standard and a new range of Ecoboost engines.

    Ecoboost engines? 'Aren't they the wheezy economy engines which struggle to fight their way out of a damp paper bag?,' I hear you ask. Actually they aren't. Ecoboost is Ford's range of super-frugal turbocharged 1.6 petrol engines.

    Ecoboost engines? 'Aren't they the wheezy economy engines which struggle to fight their way out of a damp paper bag?,' I hear you ask. Actually they aren't. Ecoboost is Ford's range of super-frugal turbocharged 1.6 petrol engines. Think back a couple of years to the naturally aspirated 2.0-litre petrol car, and that's the sort of performance you get from the Ecoboost.

    Class-leading driving position

    Delivering 148bhp, the 1.6-engine is a sprightly little thing which is deceptively quick. I covered around 800 miles in my week with the car, and though Ford claims 47mpg on the combined cycle, my 'real world' figure was closer to 38mpg.

    That said, most of the time was spent at motorway cruising speeds, and here I have to admit to being pleasantly surprised by the Focus Estate.

    With its class-leading driving position, and excellent all-round visibility, the Focus gobbled up the miles in leisurely fashion, thanks in part to its easy-to-use cruise control.

    The cabin is a fun place to be. Sure the fascia — as in the hatch — is rather dominated by a plethora of buttons and switches, but it's a nice environment in which to be. There's plenty of room, and the atmosphere is vibrant and fresh. And you don't lack for equipment: there's Bluetooth, voice activation, torque-vectoring ESP and a DAB digital radio all as standard.

    It swallows more than enough luggage

    The Titanium spec, as tested here, also brings leather steering wheel, auto headlights and dimming rear view mirror.

    On the road, the estate is a refined piece of kit. Suspension tweaks to the new Focus ensure the car transmits far fewer thumps and vibrations through the cabin, and there's definitely far less tyre roar.

    The estate sits on the same wheelbase as the hatch, and that means there's no additional space for rear passengers over the hatch.

    Let's be honest, the reason people buy estates is for their load-lugging capacity. Now while there are definitely competitors which will carry more luggage — think of the Skoda Octavia estate — the Focus estate is not only one of the best-looking in the C-sector, but it swallows more than enough through its big tailgate.

    The boot holds 476-litres, but that increases to 1502 litres once you’ve flipped up the rear seat cushions and folded the seat backs: the result is an almost, but not totally, flat floor.

    It's easy to load the neighbour's fridge

    What's also appealing is, with the seats folded, the stowage length is big enough to swallow the equivalent of a fridge: that makes it the perfect weekend 'yup, I'll come round and help you move' mode of transport.

    Cleverly, Ford has also redesigned the rear suspension to allow a greater width between the rear wheel housings.

    It's also got a low sill, which makes its easier to load the fridge; and the stylish roof rails not only enhance the car's appearance, but are a sop to the 'strenuous lifestyle' its owners enjoy.

    So, is the Focus Estate worth checking out? I'd certainly say so. The 1.6 Ecoboost Titanium I tested will set you back £20,850, which makes it an attractive package. But I'd also have a look at the 1.6 TDCi Zetec, which is not only £1255 cheaper, but returns 67mpg.

    Whichever one you consider though, the Focus Estate is certainly one to check if you're considering a rival, such as the VW Golf estate, or Vauxhall Astra Sports Tourer.

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    Jim McGill

    Quick Stats
    Price OTR/As Tested £20,850 / £23,895
    Engine / Power: 1598cc/ 148bhp
    How fast?: 0-60mph 8.8 secs / Max 130mph
    How big/heavy?: L4556mm W1858mm H1492mm / Weight 1357kg
    How thirsty/CO2?: Combined 47.1mpg / CO2 139g/km
    InsGP/Road tax: N/A
    Alternatives: VW Golf Estate, Vauxhall Astra Sports Tourer

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