ROAD TEST REPORT AND REVIEW: FORD FOCUS ESTATE
Ford’s new Focus is already a hit with customers, but as the new estate model joins the range, editor DAVID HOOPER, visits the Pageant of Power to put it through its paces.
FORD Motor Company joined forces with the Cholmondeley Pageant of Power at the weekend to introduce its impressive new Focus Estate to the UK’s motoring press.
This year is the fourth Pageant of Power, an event which has got off to a relatively quiet start, but clearly has the potential to grow to rival the Goodwood Festival of Speed, comparisons with which are inevitable. The prices, though aren’t, which is good news for the thrifty northerners among us.
Set in the grounds of a stately home, event director James Hall explained how the Castle at the centre of the estate has evolved over the years, having been raised to the ground during the Civil War. The castle we see today is actually the fourth castle, and an impressive sight it makes, sitting on a hill dominating the estate below it.
In previous years, its grounds were a popular venue with the Lombard RAC Rally and Tour Brittania and it is situated not far from Oulton Park, in Cheshire.
For one weekend only, the estate’s roads are turned into a sprint track, along a similar theme to the famous Goodwood Hill, it is lined with crash barriers and bales of hay.
A large lake plays host to powerboat racing during the weekend, and the largest collection of helicopters in the world give visitors plenty of reasons to look skywards.
The chance to test the new Focus Estate on the surprisingly challenging track was one not to be missed, and it gave the car a good work-out, dodging the assorted obstacles which include a narrow bridge, right-angle turns, negative camber corners, and a couple of humps. The Focus estate coped with the challenges reasonably well, although turning off the traction control would have helped achieve a quicker exit from some of the corners, while its safe, understeering set-up and compliant damper settings meant it was never going to set the quickest times of the day. It was fun though.
Visitors to Cholmondeley, pronounced “Chumley”, were treated to a large collection of cars, including some enormous old Bentleys and Bugattis, right up to modern exotica like the Veyron, Ferraris, Lamborghinis, numerous classic displays from car clubs, and a great selection of rally cars and historic motorcycles which also graced the track, as well as the obligatory trade stands.
We have to remember, of course, that the new Focus range is designed to suit numerous markets with minimal changes, and I think Ford have got it right. In normal road conditions, the new Focus drives and handles very well and will please most owners.
I was impressed with the estate car’s carrying capacity – the boot looks enormous when you lift the tailgate. With the rear seats in place it can accommodate 476 litres of luggage, but fold them down and that figure triples to 1,502 litres. Although the wheelbase is the same, the car is 20cm longer than the hatchback.
Steve Humbles, Ford’s product marketing manager, said that since the new Focus went on sale in March, 15,000 of them have been sold with 55% of those sales going to fleet customers.
The 1.6-litre petrol and diesel engines have proved the most popular. The Estate model is on sale now, with 2,000 orders already having been placed, with Ford expecting the estate to account for 12.5% of all Focus sales.
Not only does the car look very good, it is also very versatile – its roof rails can easily accommodate roof boxes, bike racks and a host of other accessories available from dealers.
There are four models, with prices starting from £17,100 on the road for the Edge Estate, with a 1.6-litre 105 PS engine. Ford was keen to stress that the new range is very well equipped and features over £1,000-worth of extra equipment over the old entry-level Style model.
I tried the 1.6 Duratorq TDCi, which was impressively quiet on the road. The car feels well screwed together, while inside the dash features the latest mobile-phone style design which is easy to find your way around.
There is still more to come from the Focus range next year, with a new ST promised, currently being developed by Ford’s Sports Technologies team under Jost Capito, while at the other end of the scale, a 95g/km EcoNetic model is also in the pipeline.
THE VITAL STATISTICS
MODEL: Ford Focus Estate
BODY STYLES: Estate 5-door
ENGINES: 1.6 and 2.0 Petrol, 1.6, 2.0 and 2.2 diesel
TRIM GRADES: Edge, Zetec, Titanium, Titanium X
PRICES: From £17,100
IN THE SHOWROOM: Now
• All data correct at time of publishing.