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Ford Focus Estate Titanium 1.5 TDCI EcoBlue 6-Speed Manual
27 November 2018
Author: Sean Keywood
Air conditioning, automatic headlights, LED daytime running lights, electric door mirrors, DAB radio, Bluetooth, 4.2in TFT driver information display, intelligent speed assist, lane-keeping alert with lane departure warning, autonomous emergency braking, post-collision braking
According to Ford, 12% of UK sales of its new Focus will be estates. That might not sound much, but bearing in mind the Focus is a regular in the top-five bestseller lists that's still an awful lot of metal. How much metal? Well, Ford sold nearly 70,000 Focus models in 2017, so if sales continue at the same rate that will translate into more than 8,000 load-luggers a year. On top of this, Ford expects the proportion of estate sales to be higher for the fleet market.
Bigger is better?
Compared with the hatch, the estate is 290mm longer, 23mm taller and has a rear track 13mm wider. It features a boot up from 375 to 608 litres, a figure that compares well with estate rivals - 68 litres ahead of the Vauxhall Astra, and just two behind the Skoda Octavia, although the Ford falls to 575 litres when it comes with a spare wheel. The Focus's boot is also easy to load thanks to a low loading lip, and it's very wide with little in the way of wheel arch intrusion. There is also a good sense of space further forward with ample rear head and leg room. Front seat travellers are in for a treat too, with Comfort seats - a £300 option - living up to their name with 18-way manual adjustment, so occupants of all shapes should be able to get comfy.
In Titanium spec the interior features a nice mix of soft touch materials on the dash and doors, and overall the quality feels good, even if a few scratchy plastics lower down let the side down slightly. Plenty of useful kit is standard with Titanium trim, including sat-nav, cruise control and climate control. An 8in touchscreen runs Ford's Sync 3 infotainment system, and although it isn't quite as slick or intuitive as VW Group systems, it does boast clear graphics and a hand-bracing shelf that helps with on-the-move operation. Complementing the Sync screen is a 4.2in display in the main instrument binnacle that relays sat-nav instructions and other vital information.
What's more, unlike the current trend for heating controls to be hidden away on a touchscreen menu, the Focus retains instantly accessible physical controls.
As well as a higher proportion of estates, and despite the current furore surrounding the future of the black stuff, Ford still expects fleets to take a higher proportion of diesel-engined Focuses. There are three to choose from - 1.5-litre variants with 95hp and 120hp, and a 2.0-litre with 150hp. The middle option has plenty of punch and will whizz the car along very nicely, as long as you remember it doesn't have quite the same low-down grunt as the bigger engine. Thankfully, this will rarely seem problematic as the six-speed manual gearbox it is paired with has a smooth and engaging change.
Ever since the first Focus was launched 20 years ago it has built a reputation as the best car in class to drive, and that continues today. The handling inspires complete confidence when cornering, always feeling agile and impressively composed, with minimal body roll. Ride quality hasn't been sacrificed either, helped by the standard 16in wheels and comfort-orientated suspension fitted to Titanium spec cars, which makes it a better everyday bet than the sportier ST-Line cars. The smaller wheels also mean a slight CO2 emissions reduction over 17in or 18in-specced cars, although they don't do a lot for the styling - a form versus function debate if ever there was one.
Things are especially civilised on the motorway where the engine settles down to a faint hum, and there is limited intrusion from road and wind noise.
Cheap to run
The engine also impresses when it comes to running costs. An official combined fuel economy of 76.9mpg is a decent chunk ahead of the Vauxhall and Skoda, as are official CO2 emissions below the 100g/km mark for BIK tax. Combined with solid residual values, this efficiency also contributes to a very competitive cost-per-mile figure, meaning fleet managers will be every bit as happy with this new Focus estate as their lucky drivers.