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What Car? says

4 out of 5 stars

For The Focus is sturdy, reliable and fun to drive

Against Boot space may not be all you’d hoped for

Verdict A well-rounded estate that's superb to drive

Go for… 1.8 TDCi LX

Avoid… Stodgy TDdi diesels

Ford Focus Estate
  • 1. The boot has a low sill and a reasonably wide opening
  • 2. Watch out for a noisy, creaky suspension on your test drive, especially if you're after an older car
  • 3. Be wary of a car with lots of scratches on the rear bumper. It might be a sign of a hard life in the hands of rough owner
  • 4. Make sure the engine runs smoothly - if it it misfires, it could be a sign of problems with the ECU
  • 5. Run the air-con from maximum cold to maximum heat; if it doesn't work properly, it may need re-gassing
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Ford Focus Estate full review with expert trade views

The Focus Estate doesn’t have the biggest of boots, but it is a very practical shape. Ford used clever independent multi-link rear suspension on this version of the Focus, which results in a loadbay free of the lumps and bumps that can eat into the luggage space of other small family estates.

You also won’t have to cripple yourself hoisting stuff over the low sill, while the boot opening itself is reasonably wide.

The estate's suspension is tweaked compared with the hatch to cope with the added weight of loads in the back, but it's still brilliant fun whether the boot is empty or full. It's a comfortable car, too, so don’t be frightened of driving that chest of drawers from Edinburgh to London.

The cabin is unchanged from the hatch, which means it's still one of the best we've seen. Stylish and incredibly well designed, it's easy to use, although the materials aren't exactly top notch.

Trade view

Kurtis Williams

TDCI Zetec is the best. Trim is solid and handling is razor-sharp

Kurtis Williams
Buyer,
Lex Vehicle Leasing

The entry-level 1.6 petrol serves the estate well, while the 1.8- and 2.0-litre models provide useful extra performance if your budget allows. Get the ST170 if you want something very fast.

The newer 99 or 113bhp TDCi diesels introduced in October 2001 are our pick, however. If you carry loads, you'll appreciate the added low-down pulling power they bring. They're well worth the extra over the sluggish old TDdi diesel models they replaced. In fact, these older models are bettered by any of the petrols.

Post-October 2001-face-lifted cars (with indicators in the headlights) offer more equipment than earlier models.

CL is still too sparse to consider, but Zetec is adequate. If you want to cool yourself, LX models had air-conditioning from spring 1999, while Ghias have extra treats.

Be aware that anti-lock brakes were only added as standard across the range from early in 2003.

Trade view

John Owen

Well built, good to drive, wears well. Buy one!

John Owen
Buyer,
Fords of Winsford

The TDCi diesels carried a hefty premium over petrols when new, but some of this will have been eroded by time. In general we think prices are perfectly acceptable.

Running costs will put a spring in your step, too. Those TDCi diesels have a combined fuel consumption figure of more than 50mpg, and insurance (group 6) is affordable, too.

The 1.6 and 1.8 petrols don't cost the earth, but make sure you've enough spare cash to fund the 2.0. You might be raiding your kid's piggy bank if you fancy the ST170.

Servicing costs won't make you scream, while repair bills are also relaxingly low, typically undercutting Vauxhall's by a quarter.

Ford workshops don't charge super-silly prices for their labour, but find a good independent and you could save £30 every hour.

Trade view

Kurtis Williams

TDCI Zetec is the best. Trim is solid and handling is razor-sharp

Kurtis Williams
Buyer,
Lex Vehicle Leasing

The Focus is generally a tough little monkey, but, as ever, there are a few things to look out for.

Listen for noisy, creaky suspension on your test drive, especially if you're after an older car - this is what's most likely to fail. Lots of scratches on the rear bumper might mean a hard life in the hands of rough owner, so be particularly wary here.

Also make sure the engine runs smoothly. Sometimes the ECU isn't so clever and causes the engine to misfire. This shouldn't take long to put right.

Run the air-con from low to full blast and from Arctic to Sahara to see if it's still up to the job or needs re-gassing.

During its lifetime the last Focus was recalled seven times for safety checks, so log onto www.vosa.gov.uk to see what needed to be done - and then check with the logbook that it was.

Trade view

John Owen

Well built, good to drive, wears well. Buy one!

John Owen
Buyer,
Fords of Winsford
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