First drive: Ford Focus Estate

With 10,000 new Focus's finding UK homes since its launch in March, Ford has announced the estate version of its small-family favourite. This new version is expected to account for 18% of Focus sales, Ford also claim to have taken 2,000 orders for the estate already.

So with the first owners due to take delivery of their Focus estates shortly, we thought it was a good opportunity to see if the estate was as good to drive as the hatch despite the extra space. So I headed to Goodwood for an early UK drive.

I got to drive the 150bhp version of the 1.6-litre EcoBoost petrol, but there's also the choice of 105 and 125PS versions of the 1.6 TI-VCT petrol, 95 and 115PS versions of the 1.6 TDCi plus 140 and 163PS 2.0-litre TDCi diesels.

The car we drove was in Titanium trim, specifications include rain sensitive wipers, LED rear lights and cruise control.

Rivals such as the Vauxhall Astra Sport Tourer and Volvo V60 are proof that estate cars can be stylish as well as practical. The Focus estate gets off to a good start by looking almost like a scaled-down Mondeo estate, itself a good example of the company's kinetic design language.

Highlights include the slim rear rear lights, the small rear screen and the curvy roof line.
Perhaps more distinguishable than the hatch, the Focus certainly looks better in some colours than others. Some of the finer design details were lost with our test car's black finish, the optional 18-inch alloys show the new shape at its best.

nside, the fine driving position has remained unchanged, but the packaging problems still exist. The button-heavy Sony stereo and over-complicated multi-function steering wheel annoy, but the Focus's interior is a good place to spend time because of the excellent refinement.

20cm longer than the hatch, the Focus estate has 1,502 litres of load space, which is actually less that the outgoing car. So, maybe style has triumphed over practicality on this occasion.

So what's the 150bhp version of the 2.0-litre EcoBoost version of the Focus estate like to drive? To be honest, it feels virtually the same as the hatch. Still happy to rev, it's a smooth performer feeling much more powerful than its 1.6-litres would suggest.

Despite being fitted with the optional 18-inch alloys, the ride remains composed. The larger wheels seem to have a positive knock-on effect on the already excellent body control and precise steering, as it rides the bumps far better than you'd expect.

The new Focus estate is an excellent car and there's no doubt it's going to be a top seller. But other rivals offer more space and practicality.
Read Full Story