Ford Focus Estate review

Category: Estate car

The sweetest-handling family estate, and one that's practical for passengers and their luggage.

 

Ford Focus Estate 2022 front right tracking
  • Ford Focus Estate 2022 front right tracking
  • Ford Focus Estate 2022 rear cornering
  • Ford Focus Estate 2022 interior dashboard
  • Ford Focus Estate 2022 interior rear seats
  • Ford Focus Estate 2022 interior infotainment
  • Ford Focus Estate 2022 right tracking
  • Ford Focus Estate 2022 front cornering
  • Ford Focus Estate 2022 rear left tracking
  • Ford Focus Estate 2022 rear badge detail
  • Ford Focus Estate 2022 interior steering wheel detail
  • Ford Focus Estate 2022 interior detail
  • Ford Focus Estate 2022 interior detail
  • Ford Focus Estate 2022 boot open
  • Ford Focus Estate 2022 front right tracking
  • Ford Focus Estate 2022 rear cornering
  • Ford Focus Estate 2022 interior dashboard
  • Ford Focus Estate 2022 interior rear seats
  • Ford Focus Estate 2022 interior infotainment
  • Ford Focus Estate 2022 right tracking
  • Ford Focus Estate 2022 front cornering
  • Ford Focus Estate 2022 rear left tracking
  • Ford Focus Estate 2022 rear badge detail
  • Ford Focus Estate 2022 interior steering wheel detail
  • Ford Focus Estate 2022 interior detail
  • Ford Focus Estate 2022 interior detail
  • Ford Focus Estate 2022 boot open
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Introduction

What Car? says...

If you fit a bigger display to a smartphone, buyers will queue round the block to get one – and it seems the same trick is being used on the Ford Focus Estate. The latest version does everything the previous car did, but now you get an eyeball-pleasing 13.2in screen.

Of course, big infotainment screens are not necessarily the main reason people choose to buy an estate car. That's likely to be the bigger load area they offer for carrying stuff around (your new widescreen TV, for example).

So is the Focus Estate the best option for your family trips to the furniture store or the seaside? Well, the Ford Focus hatchback it's based on is a solid performer, outshining many rivals for driver enjoyment, so the added estate practicality could make it a winner.

There are lots of trim levels to choose from to match your budget and requirements, and a range of petrol and diesel engines, including two mild-hybrid petrols. Essentially, Ford has made sure the Focus Estate really does tick the ‘cater for every need’ box.

On top of the regular trims, there are two SUV-inspired options designed for buyers with outdoorsy aspirations. They're called Active and Active Vignale X, and give the car extra ground clearance and chunkier tyres to match their more rugged looks.

So how does the Ford Focus Estate stack up against similarly priced rivals, including the Seat Leon EstateSkoda Octavia Estate and Volkswagen Golf Estate?

That’s what we’ll be exploring over the next few pages of this review, where we'll rate its performance, handling, running costs, practicality and more. We’ll also help you digest the engine and trim options, and tell you which combination of the two makes the most sense.

Once you’ve found the ideal car for you, make sure you get it for the best price by searching our free What Car? New Car Buying service. It's a good place to find the best new estate car deals.

Overview

The Ford Focus Estate stands out as the best-handling family wagon, complemented by a decent ride, generous passenger space and a large boot possessed of some handy design features. Just bear in mind that the interior feels distinctly low rent and the seating isn't as versatile as some of its rivals'.

  • Sweet handling
  • Loads of space in the back
  • Practical boot with seats up
  • Cheap-feeling interior
  • Dashboard ease of use
  • Seating could be more versatile
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Our Pick

OurPicksRRP £31,510
Ford Focus 1.0 EcoBoost Hybrid mHEV 155 Titanium 5dr Auto review
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Performance & drive

What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is

Engine, 0-60mph and gearbox

The Ford Focus Estate engine range starts with the 123bhp 1.0-litre Ecoboost 125 petrol. It's not frisky enough to wake up your adrenal glands, but it responds eagerly enough when you put your foot down. If you select an automatic gearbox, you get mild-hybrid assistance to improve performance.

For a bit more oomph, the more potent 153bhp Ecoboost 155 petrol is our pick of the range, but it's not particularly swift compared with the equivalent Seat Leon Estate, Skoda Octavia Estate or Volkswagen Golf Estate. With a manual gearbox, it takes 9.1sec to do the 0-62mph sprint, cut to 8.6sec with the seven-speed PowerShift dual-clutch automatic.

Ford Focus image
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The diesel option – the 118bhp 1.5-litre Ecoblue 120 – offers a good spread of shove once you get past its initial low-end turbo lag. It performs best with the manual gearbox, with a 9.8sec 0-62mph time, against 10.6sec with the optional eight-speed auto. If pace is a priority, there's also an ST variant (see our full Ford Focus ST review) with a 276bhp 2.3-litre EcoBoost petrol engine, for 0-62mph in a swift 5.8sec.

Suspension and ride comfort

The Focus Estate – which has a more complex suspension set-up than the hatchback Ford Focus – offers a good ride, sitting somewhere between the ultra-supple Golf Estate and the occasionally lumpy Octavia Estate for comfort.

The sportier ST-Line and ST-Line Vignale trims get a lower, stiffer set-up that's not as forgiving as standard versions. It means you notice greater firmness over potholes and corrugated surfaces, especially in ST-Line Vignale cars, with their bigger 18in wheels.

The Active and Active Vignale wannabe-SUV versions get a raised ride height and chunkier tyres, but if you're hoping they offer extra ride comfort, you're likely to be disappointed. The overall ride isn’t massively smoother, and road-surface imperfections are still noticeable.

Ford Focus Estate 2022 rear cornering

Handling

Whichever version of the Focus Estate you choose, you’ll get a car that handles deftly. So which one handles most deftly?

Well, the stiffer ST-Line and ST-Line Vignale set-ups control body lean better in corners, making them the most agile trims in the range. Honestly, though, every Focus flows with elegant balance along roads strewn with challenging cambers, contours and crests. The taller Active models do lean a bit more, but are still fine handling machines.

Add in steering that's light in town yet precise enough for you to guide the car accurately along meandering roads, and handling is an area where the Focus Estate squarely beats all price rivals.

Noise and vibration

The Focus Estate's three-cylinder petrol engines thrum away distinctively in the background, even at low revs, but never in an annoying way. The 1.5 Ecoblue 120 diesel is quite a bit grumblier at low revs, and booms when revved hard, but is no worse than rival diesels.

There’s a flutter of wind noise from around the door mirrors at motorway speeds, and there's more road noise than in the Ford Focus hatchback because of the open boot area, but travelling at speed is more civilised than in the Octavia Estate.

Every Focus Estate is available with a sweet-shifting six-speed manual gearbox, and we'd recommend sticking with it, unless you really need an automatic. The eight-speed auto box you get with the diesel engine isn't very good – it's jerky as you manoeuvre into parking spaces, and when it takes up drive in traffic. The seven-speed dual-clutch you get on petrol version provides faster shifts on the move, but tends to lurch forwards when you want to gently accelerate with the flow of traffic.

Interior

The interior layout, fit and finish

Driving position and dashboard

The driver's seat in the Ford Focus Estate is excellent, and height and lumbar adjustment are standard across the range. There are a couple of different seating choices, including an optional Comfort seat (not available with mild-hybrid engines) that has 18-way manual adjustment and an extendable seat squab. The three Vignale trims give you the option of a four-way electric driver’s seat with electric lumbar adjustment.

There’s loads of steering wheel rake and reach adjustment, so it's easy to find a suitable posture, whatever your proportions. The alignment of the steering wheel, pedals and seat are nigh on perfect, too. On lower trims you get analogue instruments behind the steering wheel, and we love them because they’re so clear and easy to read. The digital cluster you get on Vignale trims is a generous 12.3in, and makes the optional head-up display seem like an unnecessary expense.

On the minus side, models above Trend trim lose the physical controls for the air-con, forcing you to use the infotainment screen. This is a backwards step because it makes changing the temperature more distracting when you're driving.

Visibility, parking sensors and cameras

The view out of the Focus Estate is generally good. The front pillars are no more obstructive to your forward visibility than in any other estate car, and the over-the-shoulder vision is fine out the rear side window and rear screen.

Parking sensors (front and rear) are standard across the range as per its Skoda Octavia Estate, Volkswagen Golf Estate and Seat Leon Estate rivals. As with those rivals, a reversing camera is optional. It’s part of a Parking pack that also includes a parking assist to help guide you into spaces. The only trim to get a camera as standard is the range-topping ST trim.

LED headlights come as standard, and can be upgraded to adaptive LED headlights if you’re prepared to pay a fairly hefty premium. As well as being able to run on full beam even with oncoming traffic – by shaping the headlight beam to avoid dazzling other drivers – they use information from a camera to aim the beams into corners.

Ford Focus Estate 2022 interior dashboard

Sat nav and infotainment

In entry-level Trend trim, the Focus Estate comes with an 8.0in infotainment touchscreen. In all other versions, you get a huge 13.2in touchscreen with a sharp display and improved graphics. The smaller screen feels a little outdated next to the upgraded version, but it’s still miles better than the system in most of its Octavia, Leon and Golf rivals.

All trims come with DAB radio, Bluetooth, built-in sat-nav, and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone mirroring. Wireless phone-charging comes as standard on Vignale trims and is an option on the others. Vignale models also get an excellent B&O sound system with 10 speakers and a subwoofer. It’s a worthwhile upgrade for music lovers over the decent, but not quite as rich-sounding, standard six-speaker set-up.

There are no physical controls for the infotainment system, which is a shame because relying solely on the touchscreen can be distracting when you try to operate it on the move.

Quality

Let's start with the good bits. The Focus Estate's interior feels reasonably sturdy and all its upper surfaces are pleasingly soft to the touch. Every version gets a leather-wrapped gearknob and steering wheel, and the door bins are carpeted on three sides to reduce the rattling if you put your keys in there.

The interior isn't as impressive for fit or finish as the Leon Estate or Octavia Estate, though. The Focus Estate has more flimsy bits and there’s too much shiny plastic in prominent places (surrounding the gear lever and on the door cards, for example).

More effort has been put into the pricier versions, but no amount of faux-chrome/wood/carbon-fibre highlights can give the model the upmarket ambience of a premium estate car.

Passenger & boot space

How it copes with people and clutter

Front space

Even the tallest of drivers should be fine for space in the Ford Focus Estate. Its leg, head and shoulder room are up there with the best estate cars (the Skoda Octavia Estate provides slightly more front head room, though).

There are lots of storage spaces dotted around, including a couple of cupholders and trays for your phone in the centre console. There are also big door pockets for the class and a sizeable glovebox.

Rear space

A shortage of rear space was once a Focus Estate weakness, but that's no longer the case. The latest version has even more leg room than the voluminous Octavia Estate so a six-footer can easily fit behind a similar-sized driver.

The Focus has slightly less rear head room, but it’s more practical for three in the back, thanks to its much lower central tunnel that gives the middle passenger extra foot space.

Where fitted, the panoramic sunroof eats into head room, so if you fancy one but regularly transport tall rear passengers, make sure you try before you buy.

Ford Focus Estate 2022 interior rear seats

Seat folding and flexibility

Front passengers only get basic seat adjustments, and mHEV versions lose the passenger seat-height adjustment, putting it at a disadvantage compared with the Golf Estate and Octavia Estate. You only get an electrically adjustable passenger seat on the performance-oriented Ford Focus ST variant, which gets a six-way power passenger seat with electric lumbar adjustment.

You can fold the rear seats completely flat simply by pulling handles in the boot. They split 60/40, which is the same as the Golf and Octavia. Pricier premium estates (the Audi A4 Avant, BMW 3 Series Touring and Mercedes C-Class Estate) give you a more versatile 40/20/40 split.

You can't get the Focus Estate with a fold-flat front passenger seat to allow you to slide in really long loads, but there is a handy space under the boot floor for storing the luggage cover.

Boot space

The Focus Estate's 575-litre boot capacity allows it to easily take a large buggy or a couple of sets of golf clubs. That's with a mini spare wheel fitted, and is competitive with the Octavia and Golf estate rivals. The Kia Ceed Sportswagon gives you even more space (625 litres).

There’s no load lip to heave luggage over into the Focus Estate boot, and the storage areas is usefully square, so you don’t feel as though you’re playing Tetris when you're loading it up with awkward-shaped items.

The boot floor can be folded and clipped into a near-vertical position to divide the luggage space in two, preventing bags of shopping from sliding around.

Buying & owning

Everyday costs, plus how reliable and safe it is

Costs, insurance groups, MPG and CO2

The Ford Focus Estate is not as cheap as you might think. Mid-spec Titanium and ST-Line cars are relatively pricey compared with equivalent versions of the Skoda Octavia Estate. In fact, they're not far off the better-equipped Life version of the Volkswagen Golf Estate.

Predicted resale values for the Focus Estate are respectable, roughly matching those of the Octavia and Leon, but a little behind the Golf. That's partly why the Golf is more affordable than the Focus on PCP finance (future resale values form part of the finance calculation). The Focus Estate does undercut the Seat Leon Estate on PCP, though.

All the Ecoboost petrol engines prove to be pretty frugal: both the 125 and 155 should be good for mid-40s fuel economy, while the diesel should manage mid-50s. Engine for engine, the Focus for the most part matches the emissions of its Golf and Octavia equivalents, so it costs a similar amount in company car taxPlug-in hybrid (PHEV) versions of the Octavia and Leon will be cheaper to run as company cars than the Focus, which isn't available in PHEV form.

Equipment, options and extras

The entry-level Trend trim comes very well kitted out, despite being the car’s entry point. That gets all the visibility and infotainment features we’ve covered already, plus 16in alloy wheels, a heated windscreen, air conditioning, cruise control and chrome detailing around the grille. 

If you can, we’d suggest upgrading to Titanium trim – our pick of the range – as that adds the larger infotainment system, dual-zone climate control, keyless entry and start, and LED tail-lights. That said, if you want to complement the Focus’s sportiness, you should go for the ST-Line trim, which adds 17in alloy wheels, sportier styling, and lowered and stiffened suspension. 

With the exception of Trend, all trim levels come with the option of a Vignale upgrade, but we wouldn’t advise it due to the extra cost. If you do go for it, you’ll be adding premium leather seats, rear privacy glass, heated front seats and steering wheel and wireless phone-charging. Meanwhile, Active models will appeal to fans of SUV-inspired styling.

Ford Focus Estate 2022 interior infotainment

Reliability

Worryingly, Ford as a brand has fallen to 27th out of 30 car makers in the 2021 What Car? Reliability Survey. That's behind Seat (17th), Skoda (12th) and Volkswagen (20th).

Ford’s standard warranty lasts for three years or 60,000 miles (if you want extended cover, you need to pay extra).

That’s on a par with Skoda, Vauxhall and Volkswagen, but nothing compared with Hyundai’s five-year, unlimited mileage warranty, Kia’s seven-year, 100,000-mile scheme, or Toyota’s 10-year, 100,000-mile policy (as long as you service it at a Toyota dealer each year).

Safety and security

The crash-testers at Euro NCAP gave the latest Ford Focus five stars. The Focus Estate comes with an automatic emergency braking (AEB) system that can recognise cars, pedestrians and cyclists, as well as lane-keeping assistance. The reasonably priced Driver Assistance Pack adds traffic-sign recognition, automatic main beam assist and adaptive cruise control.

The last of these systems is particularly clever, and includes steering assistance that works at motorway speeds and a function for automatic versions that can bring the car to a halt and move it off again in stop-start traffic. Disappointingly, you have to add a second pack to get blind-spot warning.

All Focus Estates come with an alarm and immobiliser that’s rated in category one by security experts Thatcham Research. That bodes well for resisting being broken into and stolen.

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At a glance
New car deals
Save up to £2,483
Target Price from £27,531
Save up to £2,483
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From £18,750
RRP price range £29,660 - £40,455
Number of trims (see all)6
Number of engines (see all)3
Available fuel types (which is best for you?)petrol
MPG range across all versions 35.3 - 54.3
Available doors options 5
Warranty 3 years / 60000 miles
Company car tax at 20% (min/max) £1,587 / £2,909
Company car tax at 40% (min/max) £3,175 / £5,817
Available colours