Ford Focus estate performance
Ford offers the Focus Estate with two turbocharged three-cylinder petrol engines: a 1.0-litre and a 1.5-litre. However, that’s not where the choice ends, because the 1.0-litre is available in three outputs ranging from 84bhp to 123bhp, while the 1.5-litre comes with 148bhp or 180bhp.
So far, we’ve tried only the most powerful versions of each, with the 123bhp 1.0-litre revving out steadily rather than keenly and often requiring you to go up and down the gears in order to keep pace with the ebb and flow of traffic.
The 180bhp 1.5-litre has noticeably more guts, so it makes life easier, especially if you regularly travel with a car full of people. However, it still lacks the fizz of the less powerful Volkswagen Golf 1.5 TSI 150 and its Skoda Octavia equivalent.
As for diesels, these include a 1.5-litre engine with 94bhp or 118bhp and a 2.0-litre with 148bhp. The 118bhp unit represents the sweet spot, offering a good spread of shove once you get past its momentary low-end lag.
All Focuses come with a six-speed manual gearbox, while an optional eight-speed automatic can be specified throughout most of the range; this can take a moment to react to kickdown requests but otherwise shifts promptly between its ratios.
Ford Focus estate ride
While less powerful versions of the Focus hatchback make do with a simple torsion beam rear suspension set-up, all Focus Estates get the more complex, fully independent arrangement that's reserved for pokier variants of the hatch. And you can take that complexity a stage further, should you wish, by adding adaptive dampers.
There are also sportier ST-Line and ST-Line X trims that offer a lower, stiffer set-up. The only difference between these is that you get a slightly more compliant ride if you go for ST-Line, due to its 17in wheels, compared with the 18in set fitted to ST-Line X cars.
Are you still with us at the back? If not, don’t worry, because the Focus is fundamentally a fine-riding car, no matter which version you buy; it sits somewhere between the ultra-supple Golf Estate and sometimes lumpy Octavia Estate in the comfort stakes. Even the stiffer ST-Line cars are no boneshakers, although you do notice their greater firmness over potholes and corrugated surfaces.
We haven’t yet tried the adaptive dampers, which are available only on selected pricier trims, but our gut feeling is that the standard car is good enough to make this option unnecessary.
Ford Focus estate handling
If you’ve read the ‘ride’ section above, you’ll already be familiar with the different suspension options available. But don’t panic, because buy any Focus Estate and you’re guaranteed a car that handles deftly; the only difference is how deftly.
Certainly, the stiffer ST-Line set-up allows less body lean in corners, making for the most agile handling. Yet along roads strewn with all sorts of challenging cambers, contours and crests, every Focus simply flows with balletic balance.
Add in steering that's light in town yet precise enough for you to glide the car accurately down meandering roads and handling is an area where the Focus Estate beats all its competition.
Ford Focus estate refinement
The Focus's three-cylinder petrol engines chirp away in the background, even at low revs, but are pretty smooth at all times, while the 1.5-litre diesel also impresses, suffering little vibration or harshness.
True, there’s some flutter from around the door mirrors on the motorway, and this estate model lets in more road noise than the Focus hatchback (probably due to it not having a solid parcel shelf), but it’s still pretty civilised overall.
It also has a sweet, if rather long, manual gearchange, supplemented by a clutch that’s light yet precise.