Ford Focus ST Estate

12 Jun, 2012 12:02pm Andrew English

The all-new Ford Focus ST is available as an estate for the first time. We drive it

Verdict

5
The ST isn’t a replacement for the RS and in some senses it’s better than that. It isn’t eye-wateringly fast, but is quick enough and hugely enjoyable to drive. It doesn’t cost the earth and, with almost 40mpg and emissions of 169g/km, it shouldn’t be exorbitant to run. The estate adds a welcome dose of practicality and if anything, handles better and is better disguised than the slightly lairy hatchback. Is this the ultimate working man’s GT? We think so.
The hot new Ford Focus ST has got us so excited, we’ve forgotten the drawbacks. Chief among them is the tiny 361-litre boot, which makes the hatch one of the least practical load carriers.

But Ford has thought of this, and offers an estate version of the ST, providing 476 litres of load space with the rear seats up and over 1,500 litres with them folded.

The estate Focus still isn’t the last word in luggage carrying. The seats and squabs split 60:40 and the load cover works well, but there’s no split floor and nowhere to store the luggage carrier with the rear seats folded.

Still, there are some sensible options, including a lightweight luggage divider and a thick rubber tray to protect the trim from wet suits or wet dogs.

The ST estate is mechanically identical to the hatch, and there are three specifications: ST, ST-2 and ST-3. Each is progressively better equipped, with extras like climate control and partial leather upholstery on the £24,595 ST-2 .

There are also various option packs – the most curious is the £50 door-edge protectors, which automatically deploy when the doors open, and work pretty well.

Even in a top-level ST-3 you’d be hard pressed to know you were in a fast Ford from behind the wheel, although the gorgeous Recaro seats are figure hugging and very supportive, and rear passengers get similar perches with the ST-3. On all models, the driver gets a few extra ancillary gauges on the dash top – a clever nod to performance Fords of old.

Under the bonnet is a revised version of the 2.0-litre EcoBoost turbo, which delivers 247bhp and 340Nm of torque. The twin-scroll turbo boosts hard and fast and from 2,000rpm, the torque curve is as flat as a Norfolk fen all the way to 4,500rpm. Performance and economy are identical to the hatchback’s, as are the chassis settings.

The two cars also have the same wheelbase, so the only real difference is the overall length – the estate is 204mm longer, at 4,566mm.

The EcoBoost engine doesn’t sound as rorty as the charismatic Volvo five-cylinder from the previous Focus ST, but on the move it has a similar amount of torque and feels more eager to rev. A noise generator on the bulkhead is some compensation, plus the four-cylinder’s lighter weight brings considerable benefits.

The car feels eager, and even when fully loaded, it’s a devastatingly fast cross-country tourer. The six-speed gearbox has short, stiff shifts and well spaced ratios that allow fast cruising at low engine speeds.

The ST’s MacPherson strut front and control blade independent rear suspension gets recalibrated springs, dampers and anti-roll bars. Plus, the electronic steering has a variable ratio, which helps with low-speed manoeuvring, while maintaining sensitivity at high speeds.

No, the ST isn’t as special as the old Focus RS, but the engineering love Ford has put into it makes it feel pretty tasty from the off. The steering tugs in your hands under hard acceleration, yet is accurate and full of feel.

The suspension rides the bumps firmly, but with subtlety, and body roll is superbly controlled. It’s not skate-board stiff, but is comfortable and recovers its composure quickly after bumps and turns.

This car is great fun, with astonishing grip and agility that old ST models couldn’t match. Even when you can’t imagine pushing harder, the torque vectoring and anti-understeer systems simply pull the nose through the turns. And the brakes are powerful, with a linear feedback at the pedal. 

Disqus - noscript

We have an embarrassment of riches in this category, but this estate seems to leave nothing to be desired. Good looking, fast, comfortable, affordable and...actually usable, day to day! Even though the hatches are a bit more svelte, this ride is the real deal. The only wish is more color options for the interior. Just rip-off Audi's palettes and get on with it!

Give me the Skoda Octavia vRS Estate over this fish-faced trout anyday.

Octavia estate for all its stealthiness and zillion-question driver satisfaction survey winning smugness, still looks like it was designed in the 90's. At least the Focus looks the part.

Coming to your local constabulary near you!!

As a Ford enthusiast and owner of 18 brand new fords I have to say this looks great, I thought I had decided what my next car was; now I’m not as sure as this ST estate really looks the part.
As for the comment (I would sooner have a Skoda) yes Skoda has improved over the years but still cannot shake off the joke image completely. My neighbour has an Octavia and is sick of all the Skoda jokes still doing the rounds.
People often moan about fords residuals, but as a previous owner of a BMW 335d I have to disagree, my 335d lost more money in the first 3 years than I paid for my previous focus St Brand new.
Would I buy one? It’s not a case of would I buy one it’s how fast can I get one.
Over the last 2 decades I have owned Bmw’s, Jaguars, VW, Audi, Ford, and I have to say if you want a good all-rounder that doesn’t cost the earth to run, practical for everyday use, and a network of over 700 dealers in the UK then fords take some beating.
Enough said

Aside from the gurning fizzog, this is almost perfect: fast, practical, well-equipped, etc. but the front just puts me right off.

Plain looks. Dageham Dustbin Reputation. Poor Reliability and all so famous jokes. It must be another F

Plain looks. Dageham Dustbin Reputation. Poor Reliability and getting laughs behind your back. It must be another Ford. Granted, it looks good from the inside and seems pretty well equipped, but it still stinks Ford from a mile off.

Plain looks. Dageham Dustbin Reputation. Poor Reliability and getting laughs behind your back. It must be another Ford. Granted, it looks good from the inside and seems pretty well equipped, but it still stinks Ford from a mile off.

And used properly, there will be another optional extra available in the back: vomit.

i would not hesitate in taking a VRS as my vehicle
of choice...just add a chipped ecu and you wll have as
much power as a standard ST for a start...quality of VRS
will be superior to the Ford and i dont know why anyone still harks on about Skodas from the past..only Saddos who have never tried one
but overall both cars are fantastic ...and is the ST that pretty
i have my doubts ....fishface

I find it strange that review after review, year after year, tells us that the shortcoming of the focus are more than made up for by it's usability, practaciliy, etc. etc., but along comes a review of an estate version and the first thing it tells us is that the 5 door hatch is 'one of the least practical load carriers'!

How can this car be classed as unreliable (AExposer)) the dam thing is not on the road yet, has AExoser got a crystal ball? Perhaps he should be working for the government.

I DONT EVEN SEE SKODA IN THE TOP 10.
1. Ford Fiesta – 96,112 registrations
2. Ford Focus – 81,832 registrations
3. Vauxhall Corsa – 77,751 registrations
4. Volkswagen Golf – 63,368 registrations
5. Vauxhall Astra – 62,575 registrations
6. Vauxhall Insignia – 46,324 registrations
7. Volkswagen Polo – 45,992 registrations
8. BMW 3 Series – 42,471 registrations
9. Nissan Qashqai – 39,406 registrations
10. Mini Hatchback – 35,845 registrations.

Its a Ford one two, year after year after year. how can so many people get it wrong ?

Great car- I wonder why it took Ford so long the create an ST estate?
The rest of the planet has done it ages ago... this will have a cool following. Well done Ford.

Great car- I wonder why it took Ford so long to the create an ST estate?

The rest of the planet has been creating hot estates for years
Anyway.. this will have a cool following. Well done Ford.

Re comments about general residuals... erm, well it's quite simple guys- don't buy a new car!

You get far more bangs for your buck with one that's secondhand.
Call me a tight bastard, but even if I had telephone numbers in the bank, I would always buy a used one.

With new cars you are a hiding for nothing, and the loss of value is not really worth it.

If you are really concerned about what the neighbours will say about not buying, new.. er get a life!

Will Ford be offering an exhaust conversion for the enthusiastic driver, who may also want to tow something, it seems a little bit weird to me, to make a more practical option than the standard hatchback but not take towing into consideration.

Ford will sell more cars in the UK than many other makes as they are perceived as being British, plus they discount heavily to fleets. Most Fords aren't bought privately, they are hoiseted onto rental firms as they are virtually given away.Try European top 100 sales 2011 - Skoda Octavia over 186,000, Ford Mondeo, 86,000. In fact, the Mundano only sold 2700 cars more in the UK last year than the Skoda Octavia. Ok, the Focus and Fiesta sell more in this country, but as for the rest of Europe, Skoda outsells Ford in a lot of countries. Beat them for build quality and awards too, which is the main thing, and Skoda have been in the Top 10 of the JD Power survey for the past 20 years, have Ford????

Key specs

* Ford Focus ST Estate
* Price: From £23,095
* Engine: 2.0-litre 4cyl turbo
* Power/torque: 247bhp/340Nm
* Transmission: Six-speed manual, front-wheel drive
* 0-60/top speed: 6.2 seconds/154mph
* Economy/CO2: 39.2mpg/169g/km
* Equipment: 18-inch alloys, Recaro seats, air-con, keyless start, USB, Thatcham alarm, DAB radio, Bluetooth
* On sale: Late 2012

Auto Express 1,349
For more breaking car news and reviews, subscribe to Auto Express - available as a weekly magazine and on your iPad. We'll give you 6 issues for £1 and a free gift!

Sponsored Links