Ford focuses in on a new estate

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THE Ford Focus Estate excels in a number of areas.

It’s refined, beautifully finished, generously equipped for £17,095 - £23,095 and buyers get to choose from a number of very economical engines.

There are also some amazing high-tech options available. Prices have crept up though, which might prove a deterrent.

Despite being the darling of road test editors across the country, the genius of the original Focus’ handling in extremis was lost on many typical buyers.

These same customers won’t miss the work that’s been done on this car.

Comfort and refinement were the key criteria when designing this chassis and the engineers have certainly succeeded in that task.

Drop into the driver’s seat and you’ll initially notice that it’s lower set than the previous car, while the sharply-raked windscreen pillars are bulkier than is ideal.

The 148bhp Ecoboost 1.6 petrol and the 161bhp 2.0 TDCi diesel are the pick of the engines, but one thing all engine choices have in common is a ‘torque vectoring’ system.

This works by nipping at the brake of the inside front wheel as you turn into a corner, helping to reduce understeer.

You might well notice it drag the car towards the apex on wet roads if you’re pressing on.

The ESP stability control that’s fitted to all Focus estate models is permanently on, though a delve through the menu system can switch the traction control off if necessary.

The electric power steering system is very quick and accurate, if lacking a little something in detail feedback.

One interesting option is a slick twin-clutch automated manual.

Ford calls this its PowerShift transmission and you can leave it to do its own thing or prod a gear shifter forwards to change down and back to change up.

It seems a little remiss not to add paddle shifters but at least Ford, unlike many manufacturers, have got the fore/aft shift action the right way round.

The Focus Estate is an undeniably handsome looking thing, from its gaping front vents to its almost SEAT-like swage lines along the side.

The overall silhouette isn’t too surprising, looking in many regards like a Mondeo that’s been on a boil wash, but the detailing is very deft.

The load bay measures 476 litres to the parcel shelf and if you drop the rear seats you get up to 1502 litres of available space.

Unlike in the hatchback, there’s no full-size spare wheel option available, Ford offering only a slim space saver spare for Estate buyers.

Impressive as it is, most customers in the UK will buy the hatch.

What’s more, those ambitious equipment levels have bumped prices up such that if you’re looking for a workhorse, there are now many, many cheaper alternatives. The lustre hasn’t been worn off compact MPVs and 4x4s just yet.

Building a car this good comes at a price. Whether that price outstrips the limits of the Focus’ badge equity is something that remains to be seen.