Ecoboost petrol engines are strong; higher-powered 1.5-litre diesel is punchy enough
The petrol engine line-up starts with a 1.6-litre that has no turbo to help it, so it has to be worked hard and isn’t particularly efficient. We’d skip it and opt instead for the turbocharged 1.0 three-cylinder Ecoboost; this might sound like a small engine for a relatively large car such as the Focus Estate, but it is in fact a capable and refined choice.
If you do most of your miles in town, then the 99bhp version of the 1.0 is the one to go for because it gives the Focus Estate smooth and strong acceleration from low revs. However, if you’re a regular motorway user, then we recommend you step up to the 123bhp version, which is more comfortable accelerating at higher speeds. It also gets a six-speed manual gearbox instead of the less-powerful car’s five-speeder, which helps with both performance and refinement. No matter which engine power output you go for, though, it’ll easily cope with the heavier loads that the Focus Estate can accommodate.
There are two 1.5-litre four-cylinder Ecoboost engines; they’re noticeably stronger than the 1.0-litre units, but we don’t think it’s worth paying the hefty price premium for them.
Of the diesel options, the 118bhp 1.5 is the best bet because it has more power and is a bit more efficient than the cheaper, older 1.6 that’s also available. The 2.0 TDCi 150 is satisfyingly swift, but the 1.5 offers enough punch, so it’s hard to justify the extra cost of the 2.0.
Ford has even catered for people who want to take a lot of stuff somewhere quickly, with the high-performance ST models. These are offered with a 182bhp 2.0-litre diesel or 247bhp 2.0 turbocharged petrol engine, both linked to manual gearboxes. The petrol model can match many sports cars for pace.
Ford Focus Estate ride comfort
Standard models are comfortable, but ST versions are firm
The Focus Estate has suspension that feels well judged for UK roads. It deals comfortably with the worst bumps, and even sharp mid-corner intrusions don’t trouble it too much. It’s pretty composed at lower speeds over pockmarked urban roads, too, although it can feel quite busy over genuinely bad surfaces, particularly on versions fitted with larger wheels. Ultimately there are smoother-riding cars available – notably the VW Golf Estate – but they don’t feel quite as well controlled as the Focus Estate.
However, the ST Estates are really firm, and while they’re fine over bigger bumps, the ride rarely settles and you’re constantly bounced about over most roads.
Ford Focus Estate handling
Excellent body control, although steering can feel too sharp
You might be buying an estate car, but you’ll still want it to have good body control – after all, you don’t want all those carefully stacked goods being bounced around all over the boot. Well, the Focus Estate won’t let you down. The body control is excellent, so you won’t feel the car lean over in faster bends.
It also grips well in all conditions, and the steering is extremely accurate and weights up pleasingly as you go around corners. However, it’s so quick just off centre that it can make the Focus feel a little too keen, nervous even, as you turn in to faster corners. The self-centring action is also too aggressive. It’s these traits that have denied the Ford five stars here.
The steering issues aren’t entirely absent on ST models, either, despite the fact they get variable-ratio steering that delivers faster responses the more you turn the wheel.
Ford Focus Estate refinement
Most engines are quiet; vague clutch can irritate
With the exception of the relatively coarse 1.6-litre petrol at the foot of the range, the Focus Estate’s engines are generally refined. The 1.0 and 1.5 Ecoboost petrol engines are really impressive in this area, because they’re smooth and quiet, and they have so much low-rev shove that you don’t have to work them very hard anyway. If you’re in the market for a diesel model, the 1.5-litre version is the peach in the range.
Suspension noise is well suppressed, but wind and road noise are much more noticeable; road noise is especially obvious on models with bigger wheels and wider tyres, including the ST editions.
The Focus’s five- and six-speed manual gearboxes are light and precise, if a bit notchy, but the clutch biting point is annoyingly vague on many models, which makes it far too easy to over- or under-rev the engine as you pull away. The six-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox, called Powershift, is fairly slow-shifting and can be a bit dim-witted when you’re pressing on, but it’s fine as long as you’re not in a hurry.
The entry-level petrol engine is hard to recommend. It comes with a five-speed manual gearbox and needs to be worked hard, especially if you load up the boot. Focus Estate models with the Ecoboost petrol engines are faster, more refined and generally much more enjoyable to drive, so go for one of those if you can.
This higher-powered 1.6-litre petrol engine is available only with an automatic gearbox. It’s not particularly punchy, so is worth considering only if you need a relatively cheap Focus Estate with an automatic ’box.
1.0T Ecoboost 100
A great choice if you mostly drive in town, this 1.0-litre turbocharged three-cylinder petrol engine picks up keenly from low revs and is refined and free revving. The lack of a sixth gear isn’t an issue, but it’s a shame there’s no automatic gearbox available.
1.0T Ecoboost 125
This is the best petrol engine in the range – it’s punchy, quiet and revs freely, and it helps make the Focus Estate good to drive whether on the motorway or in town. A manual gearbox is the only transmission available with this engine, though.
1.5T Ecoboost 150
Helps make the Focus Estate great fun to drive, but it also makes it a bit pricey, so is worth the premium over the 1.0-litre Ecoboost only if you’re specifically after something with punchy performance. This engine can be combined with a manual or automatic gearbox.
1.5T Ecoboost 182
Offers slightly stronger performance than the lower-powered 1.5-litre Ecoboost petrol engine, but isn’t really worth the extra money, especially because it’s available only in expensive, high-end trim levels. It’s offered with a manual or automatic gearbox.
2.0 Ecoboost 250
The range-topping petrol engine is available only with the ST hot hatch version. It’s a fantastic, free-revving turbocharged engine that delivers the full ‘fast Ford’ experience, even in this Focus Estate. There is a noticeable surge as the turbo kicks in, but it’s still easy to drive the car smoothly. It’s a justifiable choice if you’re after a proper fast estate. A manual gearbox is the only transmission available.
1.6 TDCi 95
This is the entry-level diesel engine and it is offered only in relatively sparse Style trim. It’s a cheap way into a diesel Focus Estate, therefore, but it’s hard to recommend because it’s noisy and feels underpowered. The much more flexible and more refined 1.5-litre unit is only fractionally more expensive, so is a much better buy.
1.5 TDCi 95
This 94bhp version of Ford’s 1.5-litre diesel engine is fine as long as you’re not planning to carry huge loads in your Focus Estate. It’s efficient, too, managing to dip under the 100g/km mark of CO2 emissions. However, the 1.5 TDCi 120 is only a few hundred pounds more expensive – so only a few pounds per month, if you’re paying on finance or choosing it as a company car. It’s also no less efficient and much more comfortable with powering the Focus Estate’s bulk, so is the better choice.
1.5 TDCi 105
The most economical and efficient engine available in the Focus Estate. It’s offered only in Style Econetic trim, and gets more aerodynamic wheel covers and low-rolling-resistance tyres to help it emit less than 90g/km of CO2. It’s hard to recommend, though, when the more powerful version of the same engine still dips under 100g/km, so is still cheap to run, and is available in more desirable trim levels.
1.6 TDCi 115
This 1.6-litre diesel is cheaper and slightly less powerful than the equivalent 1.5, but it’s also not as economical or refined. It’s harder to recommend, then, particularly for the company car drivers who make up a huge proportion of the Focus Estate diesel’s target audience. Given the small price difference between this and the 1.5, the quieter and more efficient smaller engine is the better bet.
Our pick 1.5 TDCi 120
This is the best engine in the range. It has impressive fuel economy and CO2 emissions, so brings low running costs, yet it’s powerful enough for confident overtaking or when merging with fast motorway traffic. It’s also happy to pull from low revs, so you won’t have to change gear every few seconds to keep it in its sweet spot. Manual or automatic gearboxes are available with this engine.
2.0 TDCi 150
The lower-powered 2.0-litre diesel engine offers strong performance that makes brisk progress seem easy, and it’s happy to sit in a high gear around town without stuttering. However, we’d say it’s worth the extra cash over the 1.5 TDCi 120 only if punchy acceleration is a necessity. Like that engine, it is also available with a manual or automatic gearbox.
2.0 TDCi 185
This powerful diesel engine is available in the sporty ST model only, and it helps turn the Focus Estate into a remarkably entertaining fast wagon. You get a big surge of power as the turbo kicks in, which can make things a touch unruly on damp, poorly surfaced roads. It’s generally great fun, though, even if it is harder to drive smoothly than the lower-powered diesel versions.