First drive: Ford Focus Estate

* Face-lifted Focus on test * Strong engines, sound interior * Costs from £14,150...

First drive: Ford Focus Estate

As face-lifts go, the Ford Focus Estate has had a thorough going-over. In come restyled headlights, wheelarches and rear lights, as well a new front grille and tailgate to make it look more distinctive.

That's not all. The interior gets soft-touch plastics on the dashboard and upper front door trim, and fresh instruments. Even the seat fabric is new.

The aim is to make the Focus look more distinctive and upmarket. It's worked - and so answers two criticisms of the previous model.

If only Ford had tackled refinement at the same time. It's not an overly noisy car, but coarse surfaces throw up too much road noise, and the 2.0-litre diesel engine in our test car isn't as quiet as the best in class.

The low-speed ride is firm, too, although it gets better the faster you go.

Still, if you're prepared to hear and feel a few bumps, you'll certainly enjoy driving the Focus. Composure, grip, precision - the Estate has it all. The diesel engine provides strong performance, too.

Your passengers will also enjoy the car. There's plenty of room in the rear seats, and a large, rectangular boot to take everyone's luggage.

Your kids will be kept quiet for ages trying to find all the storage spaces dotted around the cabin, and folding down the rear seats is easy.

It's not as van-like as a Kia Cee'd SW or Skoda Octavia Estate, but the Focus should be flatpack-friendly enough for most people.

Prices have risen by £250, although stability control is now standard, as is a capless fuel filler that stops you putting the wrong fuel in. There's also the option of a new semi-automatic gearbox.

• The new Focus Estate is on sale now from £14,150.