There’s no mistaking the new Ford Focus estate (especially when it’s in Race Red), but is it as good as it looks?
Well, it may be a bit bright for some, but perhaps it sums up Ford’s confidence when it comes to the Focus.
Consistently one of Britain’s bestselling cars, there’s no reason to think otherwise after a week in the company of the Titanium X version.
But before I go on, I ought to admit that I’m a bit of a Focus fan, having owned a Mk 1 for years. In fact, we now have a faithful Mk2 sitting on our drive – still acting as our family runabout.
The latest version of the Focus is either a facelifted Mk3 or a Mk4 – take your pick – bringing it into line with the rest of the Ford range with its “Aston” nose.
Yes, the sharper front end is most obvious, along with tweaks to the rear, but it’s the new infotainment system inside that brings the new Focus bang up to date.
And you can’t even see the biggest change of all, because it’s under the bonnet, in the shape of a new 1.5-litre diesel, replacing the old 1.6 TDCi unit.
Refined and with superb grunt, you’d never guess it’s a smaller engine. It also happens to offer better fuel economy lower C02 emissions. Ford has also improved the car’s ride and handling characteristics, while the six-speed manual gearbox is slick and precise.
And of course, being a Titanium X, it’s generously equipped too. My test car has several great-value optional extras, boosting the basic £24,395 to £26,500.
The extras included special 8-spoke alloys and rear privacy glass (£450), plus a Driver Assistance Pack with safety features such as Lane Departure Warning and Auto High Beam (£450).
First impressions are excellent. To look at, this is easily the best proportioned Ford Focus estate ever and there’s plenty of kerb appeal (especially if you opt for Race Red!).
Inside, there’s a quality feel with comfy part-leather seats (heated at the front) and goodies aplenty including Ford’s legendary “Quickclear” windscreen, cruise control with speed limiter and Dual Electronic Temperature Control, Traction Control and Emergency Brake Assist.
The biggest improvement over the outgoing model is the new infotainment system dominated by an 8-inch touchscreen incorporating a DAB audio system, rear view camera, superbly simple sat nav and Sync2 with Voice Control. Yes, once you’ve paired up your smartphone (very easy), you can receive calls and choose contacts to make calls via voice commands. You can also control the sat nav, select music and even adjust the climate control.
There’s plenty of space up front and, thanks to more glass and a slightly higher roof on the estate, it seems roomier in the back too. Ford’s also created plenty of cubby holes and storage spaces.
At 476 litres, the boot isn’t as big as some rivals, such as the Skoda Octavia estate and Peugeot 308SW, but I suspect it’s big enough for most and there’s a low lip for easy loading.
The Focus feels livelier, rides well and seems nicely composed, whether you’re in town, on the motorway or tackling country roads. There’s a little road noise, but on the whole, it’s a refined, rewarding drive.
The new 1.5-litre diesel engine produces a decent 118bhp, has a 98g/km C02 rating and is capable of a claimed 74.3mpg. I wouldn’t go that far, but I had no trouble achieving more than 50mpg, which is still very respectable.
Summary: The Ford Focus Estate is better than ever – well equipped, classy, economical and safe. SUVs and MPVs are all very well, but estate cars have never been so good, and the Focus is one of the best.