It's called a Focus Estate. How refreshing. Not a SportsWagon or SportsTourer or Touring or Avant. Its morphology is as simple as its name. The boot's half as big again as the hatch's, and the same ratio applies when they're both in their two-seat modes. You don't get any of those fancy cargo rails or nets or divider systems or hidey-holes that furnish bigger, posher estates - Focus drivers are expected to buy their own ropes. It's a big black box back there. So there's that bit out of the way.
This is also our first proper go in a Focus of majority-spec - a 1.6 diesel Zetec. Almost all carmakers spec up the cars they lend to TopGear so they look good in photos. Maybe they even think we'll be easily impressed by the trinkets? Surely not. Anyway. Here's a Focus in pretty much standard Zetec spec, on its regular 16-inch wheels. OK, the tester has metallic paint and a satnav, but otherwise
this is pretty well what you'd see.
The 1.6 engine is a partial success. When there was just me in the car,
it was pretty willing at moderate speeds and its noise well suppressed. But let's face it, doing any overtaking with a full load will be an epic and probably fruitless slog. The on-paper economy is good, but you'll be working it so hard you won't attain anywhere near book figures.
On 16s, even more than on the 18s we tried at first, I really like the suspension's suppleness at slowish speeds or on motorways, and the way it can charge down a really difficult, bucking back road without getting disturbed. It's amazingly competent and feels expensive.
Ford had a bit of a go at me a few months back because I didn't like the steering on the Focus with the big wheels. But on the 16s, it's still no fun. It's accurate and easy to drive, but there isn't the feedback to draw you in. OK, the Astra suffers the same problem, but that's no excuse. Electric power was brought in for two reasons. One, to save fuel, which is fair enough for most people, who don't drive like we do. The other is that it enables all sorts of clever devices like lane-keeping and self-parking. But they're not fitted on the Zetec.
Compared with a Golf or Astra estate (or, if you must, Astra Sports Tourer), the Focus has a good ratio of price to kit: at Zetec level, you get DAB, Bluetooth, fogs, alloys and two hi-res info screens. But the cabin doesn't feel as pricey as those of the Volkswagen and Vauxhall. Ford spent its money on the engineering underneath.
We don't like
Ugly face, dead steering
Like a Focus, only with extra junk in the trunk. Drives expensively.
0-62mph in 11.1secs, max 120mph, 67.3mpg
1560cc, 4cyl, FWD, 113bhp, 210lb ft, 1368kg, 109g/km CO2
Tick this on the options list
Nav in rearview mirror, £305
And avoid this
Candy yellow paint, £745