Twin test: low-cost estates

  • We size up two family estates with low running costs
  • Practicality, running costs and driveability explored
  • Find out which combines all three to offer the better package

Carrying around lots of people and their luggage around used to mean buying a large estate with a thirsty engine. They were useful, but also incredibly expensive to run. Times have changed, however.

Peugeot and Ford both offer their own affordable zero-tax estates which carry much and cost little to live with. We found out which one is best.

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Peugeot 308 SW 1.6-litre BlueHDi (2014-) vs Ford Focus Estate 1.5-litre TDCi (2014-)

Driving

Peugeot 308 SW: The engine we’ve chosen here is the 120hp 1.6-litre BlueHDi diesel unit. It’s designed to maximise efficiency, yet, unlike many other low-emissions diesels, it doesn’t feel strangled in the aim to boost economy. The power is available from very low revs, and the engine is far more refined than previous Peugeot diesels. Coupled with the car’s smooth ride, the 308 provides a relaxed all-round driving experience.

Ford Focus Estate: Like the Peugeot, the Ford’s 1.5-litre TDCi engine produces 120hp, and punches well above its weight when it comes to real-world usage. It pulls well from low revs and provides ample overtaking muscle. It’s softer than the old Focus estate though, meaning some of the cornering sharpness has been lost. Strong brakes go some way towards making up for this.

 

Practicality

Peugeot 308 SW: This is where the Peugeot really excels. Boot capacity is a gargantuan 660 litres with the rear seats up, or 1,775 litres with them down. The second figure is, in part, thanks to the completely flat-folding rear seats, activated by quick-release levers in the boot – useful if you’re struggling to load kids and heavy luggage. Roof rails, too, are standard fit on all models.

Ford Focus Estate: The Focus can’t compete with the 308 SW here, but then again, not much can. The Ford boot can hold a respectable 490 litres with the seats up, and 1,516 with them down. Folding them is a quick and simple process like in the Peugeot. They don’t go completely flat in the Focus, however, which means loading awkward items could prove tricky.

 

Costs

Peugeot 308 SW: Road tax is rated at £0, while 88.3mpg is the quoted average fuel consumption figure. You’re unlikely to replicate this in reality, though even if you fall short by a quarter, the 308 will still be a cheap car to run. Peugeot’s reliability record isn’t perfect, but the standard warranty should take care of any unexpected faults in the first three years of ownership. Residual values are unspectacular, yet they’re only marginally less than the Ford.

Ford Focus Estate: Again, road tax is rated at £0, while fuel economy sits at a quoted 74.3mpg on the combined cycle. Like in the Peugeot, achieving this figure is unlikely, but the Ford should seldom be seen at the pumps. The Focus’s reliability has always been reasonable, but if a fault does occur in the first three years, the manufacturer warranty will be there to save your pennies.

 

Stats

 

Peugeot 308

SW

Ford Focus

Estate

Engine

 1,560cc/4-cylinder

diesel,

manual

 1,499cc/4-cylinder

diesel,

manual

Fuel capacity

53 litres

53 litres

Road Tax

Band A -

£0p/a 

Band A -

£0p/a

Power

120hp

120hp

Insurance Group

21

16

0-62mph

10.1 seconds

10.7 seconds

Boot space

660 litres

490 litres

Economy

88.3mpg

74.3mpg

CO2 emissions

85g/km

98g/km

 

And the winner is:

Peugeot 308 SW: Both of these low-tax estates are far better to live with than they have any right to be. Neither engine is unduly compromised by their low-emissions brief, while each car rides and handles with aplomb. Practicality, however, is firmly in the Peugeot’s favour, with its massive 660-litre boot giving it the edge.

Ford Focus Estate: The Focus Estate is a capable car, and one that would make an excellent low-tax family wagon. It rides well, has a strong engine and ample room for passengers. However, the Peugeot’s boot is significantly larger than the Ford’s. And when it comes to estate cars, luggage capacity is a dealbreaker.

 

Still need help deciding what to go for?

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Peugeot 308: which version should you choose?

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