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Ford Focus 2020 review: ST-Line wagon


Think of a small car. Any small car. Got one? Now attach a big boot to it. Hey presto! It’s more of a family car now, right?

That’s exactly what Ford has done with its new Focus wagon. It’s still a small car, with a small interior and a small-ish price, but with a bigger boot. Because loads of families use small cars, but they’d use them for a longer time if only they were a bit bigger. 

It’s called the Ford Focus ST Line wagon, costs $30,990, and has, as its nearest competitor, the rarely sighted VW Golf wagon. Did it suffice for a family? I drove it around for a whole seven days with my own brood to find out. 

How does it look?

The exterior is great for a Ford, and even a little sporty, because while it does have a bigger back end, it’s still not as large as a regular wagon, so it doesn’t scream “station wagon!”, which could be considered a plus for some people. It still retains that sophistication of the new Focus design as well, which is a good thing. 

The exterior is great for a the Fcous ST-Line. The exterior is great for a the Fcous ST-Line.

The interior is not as swanky as the outside, which is a bit of a letdown. The seats are fabric and they feel good on the skin but they look a little budget, which I think brings the rest of the design down. The centre console is clearly set out and everything else is nice and simple, with no fancy extras to confuse you. 

There’s a shiny feature panel on the dash, which does help lift the look, and the steering wheel also brings things up a notch - it’s leather and has a flat bottom, which feels really great while driving. 

The interior is not as swanky as the outside, which is a bit of a letdown. The interior is not as swanky as the outside, which is a bit of a letdown.

How spacious is it?

Look, it’s still a small car so it’s not enormous inside and I won’t tell you that it is, but there is enough room for it to work as a smaller family car.

The leg and headroom in the front of the Focus are fine. The leg and headroom in the front of the Focus are fine.

The leg and headroom in the front are fine, and my children fit well in the back. I was also comfortable back there, at 161cm, and there was enough room between my knees and the front seat that taller adults and teenagers would fit in the back easily too. But still, it’s not a big wagon, so it wouldn’t be described as spacious.

You won’t get a third child seat in the middle, either, and if you’re putting a baby capsule in, you’ll have to move the front seat forward enough to accommodate it, as you would in a Focus hatch.

I was comfortable in the back with enough room between my knees and the front seat. I was comfortable in the back with enough room between my knees and the front seat.

The boot, on the other hand, is spacious. At 575L you’ll have enough room for a double pram or small children’s bikes or sporting equipment.

The boot is rated at 575-litres, which is plenty of room for a double pram. The boot is rated at 575-litres, which is plenty of room for a double pram.

It’s a very big jump from the 341L of the Focus hatch, and it even beats some mid-size SUVs, like the Mazda CX-5, the Hyundai Tucson and the Subaru Forester.

How does it drive?

The Focus was a good car to drive, but I didn’t love it the way I love a Mazda 3,  for example. I found the circular gear shifter took a few seconds to change gears (which is not convenient when you're in the middle of a three-point turn) so this put me off slightly. The tyres then slipped a little on taking off from the lights in the pouring rain, so I began to wonder if I wouldn’t want an AWD SUV after all. 

But that is a very personal observation and the Focus ST Line really does have all you need for a nifty car to handle the everyday suburban run.

There’s a 1.5-litre turbo engine on board, so it’s super zippy and gets up hills quickly, and is great to coast along on highways, too.

The turbo three-cylinder engine makes 134kW/240Nm. The turbo three-cylinder engine makes 134kW/240Nm.

It’s easy to park, with a very clear reversing camera and the turning circle is small enough to do U-turns on the street out the front of my kids' school - always a bonus while looking for a park on the school run.

How easy is it to drive every day?

Getting in and out is great because of the low profile, the kids were fine to jump in and pop seatbelts on. If you’re at the stage where you’re constantly bending down to do seatbelts up, though, that can be a disadvantage. 

There are two cupholders in the front, a nice large storage spot for keys and a flat pad for your phone, which also charges your device, wirelessly, if it’s compatible, a good centre storage bin and bottle holders in each door.

Rear passengers don’t get cupholders or their own air vents, which is somehow passable in the Focus hatch, but in the wagon it feels as though you’ll miss them more, because it's a bigger car.

The boot lid is easy to pull down and the boot lip is a good height off the ground to load things into. 

How safe is it?

What’s the tech like?

It’s fitted with Apple Carplay and Android Auto which is the easiest technology to use these days, because the multimedia screen basically turns into a larger version of your phone, so you can use your maps app to navigate and a streaming app to listen to music. Just plug in your phone for instant access, and you can even ask the system to make calls for you while you’re driving. 

The multimedia screen comes with the latest version of Ford's Sync 3, plus Apple Carplay and Android Auto. The multimedia screen comes with the latest version of Ford's Sync 3, plus Apple Carplay and Android Auto.

How much does it cost to own?


The Wrap

The Ford Focus ST Line wagon is a really great choice for families, given the extra boot space attached to what is essentially a really cute, zippy, small car. 

It’s got all the safety and tech you need and looks great for this price bracket. I gave it a family rating of 7.8 out of 10, taking some points off for the interior design and the hesitant gear change. My kids gave it an 8 - possibly because blue is my daughter’s favourite colour. 

Likes

Exterior design
Huge boot
Well priced

Dislikes

Interior design
Hesitant transmission

Scores

Nedahl:

3.9

The Kids:

4

$30,990

Based on new car retail price