We're in the midst of niche-marketing mania. You can now buy a car to suit every requirement, and a few that you may not have even thought of. Anyone for a hot-hatch-style MAV? Or an SUV-style hatch? Ford currently offers both.
This is the stripped-back, 'unplugged' alternative. It's a simple, traditional wagon, based on the latest generation Focus. There are no hidden gimmicks. The seats, for instance, can't be flipped into more positions than a Chinese contortionist. They just split-fold forwards to leave a flat load space, free from the intrusion of suspension turrets, and with 1,525 litres of room to swallow the refuse from your latest garage or garden clearance. Leave the seats in place and there are still 482 litres to play with - there's more useable (i.e. horizontal) space in here than in the equivalent rival.
This is a does-what-it-says-on-the-tin sort of car, unharmed aesthetically by missing out on the regular Focus five-doors' rather hunchbacked roofline.
The addition of extra luggage-swallowing bulk at the rear hasn't led to a reduction in dynamic abilities either. Here the wagon still sets the standards. The steering is fluid yet sharp, the brakes are responsive and body control is reassuringly taut. This is a well-rounded chassis, also comfortably smothering rough road surfaces.
The top engine choice will be the two-litre TDCi, a unit that revs relatively smoothly for a diesel and offers strong, easily accessible performance even with the car fully loaded. Make plenty of use of the six-speed manual gearbox's slick changes, drive it like you just pinched it and you'll still struggle to achieve 5.5L/100km. That provides some compensation for this Titanium-spec version's bullish $27,990 price tag.
Aside from the absence of stops at the pumps, the only other time you may sense that you aren't in a larger car - with better sound deadening - is on the motorway, where the whirr from the engine forces an upward twist of the stereo's volume knob.
This, then, is an unusually simple proposition. It's not a compellingly clever car, just a convincingly pragmatic one.