Ford Focus Estate: going full circle

Published: 30 December 2019

► Ford Focus Estate long-term test
► We live with the new Focus wagon
 1.5 T EcoBoost Titanium X spec

Month 3 living with a Ford Focus Estate: old vs new

As chance has it, my sister owns an earlier Ford Focus estate, so when she came to visit recently I couldn't help but compare it with my 2019 edition. Hers is a somewhat hard-used, lived-in Mk1. As an artist she regularly lugs around show stands, potting paraphernalia and bulky boxes of tableware to exhibitions and galleries. It's a proper workhorse.

It's obvious as soon as you park them side by side how the Focus has shifted from generation one to four. The tailgate angle has gone from nearly upright to laidback, while the side windows have transformed from set-square deep to fashionably upticked.

Mine may look sportier – but Frances's less striking-looking car is considerably lighter and airier as a result of that deeper glass.

In fact, shorn of any Blue Oval badging, there's not an awful lot that interlinks the wardrobes of these two popular estate cars. I can't overstate the impact the Mk1 Ford Focus family had at launch in 1998, landing like a slice of New Edge exotica to brush away a decade of Escort mediocrity with a modernist style, driving dynamics to shame contemporary sports cars and a fresh approach that set Ford's path for a decade of mainstream success.

The edgy design has certainly mellowed and the new Focus won't stop people in their tracks, as the Mk1 did. Our Mk4 is a more mature affair and looks slick if innocuous in that grown-up, classy Ruby Red paint.

There's still that lingering feeling – perhaps unfair – that it's been built down to a mass-market price, and I suspect the alloys and interior plastics may wear quicker than a VW Golf's over time (as those on my sister's Focus have).

Happily, the engineering and drive of our modern Focus have evolved in a linear fashion: ours is still among the best in the class for steering response, that deft ride versus handling balance that most modern Fords have kept, and a general fizzy joie de vivre that makes me (and my sister) smile when we drive our Focuses. It's a good feeling.

By Tim Pollard

Logbook: Ford Focus 1.5 T Titanium X

Price £24,755 (£26,905 as tested) 
Performance 1497cc turbo triple, 148bhp, 9.0sec 0-62mph, 129mph 
Efficiency 51.4mpg (official), 46.1 mpg (tested), 125g/km CO2 
Energy cost 17.8p per mile 
Miles this month 824
Total miles 4101

Month 2 of our Ford Focus Estate long-term test: how practical is it?

Ford focus estate tailgate opener

We’ll have to get back to you on the details of our Focus estate’s ride and handling characteristics, but we can give you chapter and verse on its practicality. Every weekend since it arrived at CAR, and a few weekdays too, the Ford has been in demand for its ability to carry usefully large quantities of people and luggage.

Editor Ben Miller had a family moveathon and snaffled the keys one weekend, while James Taylor muttered something about bicycles and boots and before I knew it the Focus had taken on Tour de Peterborough support vehicle status. 

The 575-litre boot is sensibly shaped and easy to slide big loads into, with little redundant hidden space. The rear seats flop down easily and I’m beginning to learn where to waggle my foot to open the tailgate. I’d still prefer just to, you know, use my fingers to open the handle, though.

By Tim Pollard

Logbook: Ford Focus 1.5 T Titanium X

Price £24,755 (£26,905 as tested)
Performance 1497cc turbo triple, 148bhp, 9.0sec 0-62mph, 129mph
Efficiency 51.4mpg (official), 46.1 mpg (tested), 125g/km CO2
Energy cost 13p per mile
Miles this month 782
Total miles 3277

Month 1 living with the new Ford Focus Estate: not premium, not an SUV and not hybrid

Ford Focus Estate long-term test by CAR magazine: we live with the 1.5 T EcoBoost Titanium X

There’s always that moment as you first drive a new car when you find out whether you’ve made a sound decision or a howler. Happily, after the first mile I quickly realised that the Ford Focus Estate and I were going to get along just fine: it wields a broad range of capabilities in a pleasingly modest package – and ticks most boxes I demand of a family car.

With the demise of Mondeo Man, I reckon the more compact C-segment contender makes a good case for Focus Folk. It’s such an Everyman car, currently sitting in second place in the 2019 UK top-sellers list just ahead of the Golf, Corsa and Qashqai, and behind little brother Fiesta. I like its ubiquitous nature – it’d make a perfect getaway car.

Three of my last daily drivers have all worn premium badges and been electrified in some way or another (BMW i3, Tesla Model S, Lexus RX L) so flipping into a mainstream Ford Focus in 1.5 EcoBoost petrol spec is a refreshing change. It’ll be interesting to compare running costs, emissions and my environmental conscience as the miles stack up.

I have a long and positive relationship with the Focus family. The original is still one of the most influential new cars I’ve ever road tested; I remember being blown away at launch back in 1998. No other new car in the intervening decades has ripped up what went before so convincingly – and the Mk1 Focus remains a high-water mark for a mainstream manufacturer moving the goalposts. 

My wife traded in a Peugeot 306 hatchback for a Ford Focus Estate Mk2 when our firstborn arrived, and we did 100,000 miles in that without problem. It’ll be fascinating to see how the wagon has evolved since. Where the Mk1 was all New Edge sharp wardrobe upstairs and semi-professional athlete down below, the Mk2 was a little blunter in both departments, but remained a faithful workhorse for carting around pushchairs, endless baggage and travel cots. 

Ford Focus Estate full review

We are testing the new 2019 Ford Focus Estate 1.5 T EcoBoost Titanium X

Nowadays, with my kids entering their teenage years, they’re more likely to be lugging around sports kit of their own, plus we have a golden retriever. So a mid-sized estate car fits the bill just fine. This 2019 Focus Estate is a considerable 290mm longer than the hatchback, at 4.7m long, and that stretch brings a useful 575-litre boot. Drop the rear bench and that swells to 1620 litres – we’ll be testing the outright space in the coming weeks.

Ours is the downsized three-cylinder petrol engine, dubbed 1.5 T EcoBoost in Blue Ovalese, and first impressions are it’s a cracker. With 148bhp and 177lb ft of torque, it’s plenty fast enough and well matched to a slick six-speed manual transmission (it’s amazing how few stick-shifts pass through our hands these days). I’m still on my first tank of fuel, so haven’t crunched the fuel economy yet. Happily, mid-40s mpg seems likely.

To the £24,755 list price we’ve added four modest options: £800 Ruby Red metallic (a visual delight), £750 LED headlamps (a bright idea for this coming winter, I hope), £450 hands-free tailgate (not convinced, but let’s see) and a £150 heated steering wheel (I could do without this). We’ll be probing the sense of these optional extras in the course of the next six months.

Have you driven the new Focus Estate? Or are you a former owner, like me? If you fancy having a drive in this one and talking it through with the CAR team, email me:

Interested? Come and join our impromptu Focus group!

By Tim Pollard

Logbook: Ford Focus 1.5 T Titanium X

Price £24,755 (£26,905 as tested)
Performance 1497cc three-cylinder, 148bhp, 9.0sec 0-62mph, 129mph
Efficiency 51.4mpg (official), n/a mpg (tested), 125g/km CO2
Energy cost n/a
Miles this month 105
Total miles 2553

More Ford reviews by CAR magazine

By Tim Pollard

Editorial director of CAR's digital publishing arm. Motoring news magnet