New Ford Focus ST Estate 2019 review
The new Ford Focus ST Estate offers all the thrills of the standard hot hatch, but in a more practical package
It's the combination of equipment, performance and usability that makes this Ford Focus ST Estate a solid, practical, and (relatively) affordable performance car. It also shows there’s life in this format and that not everyone needs a hot SUV if your criteria include speed and practicality. It could be purer still, but the ability here means there’s little compromise over the standard ST hatch.
Affordable, practical performance cars are being squeezed by hot SUVs. For many, if you want usability in a fast package, then a higher-riding crossover is the on-trend vehicle at the moment.
But what if you don’t want to sacrifice the driving experience that these raised up off-roader based vehicles inevitably compromise? Your options are limited when it comes to versatile and fast compact estate cars, but thankfully, there’s a new choice: the Ford Focus ST Estate.
It combines all of the chassis and engine know-how from Ford’s latest hot hatch in a more practical body style, and while that adds another £1,100 to the Focus ST’s already lofty £31,995 price tag, it’s not all that much to pay for such a boost in usability.
The Estate gets a bigger 608-litre boot, rising to 1,653 litres with the rear seats folded. As the standard ST only offers 375 and 1,354 litres respectively, it’s a useful uplift in luggage space that doesn’t compromise the car’s driving dynamics.
The wagon’s wheelbase is the same and it only weighs an extra 35kg, which you’ll never notice on the move. The 2.3-litre four-cylinder turbo engine’s 276bhp and 420Nm of torque helps hurl the ST from 0-62mph in 5.8 seconds – just one tenth slower than the hatchback – while the 155mph top speed is the same. Ford even claims the same efficiency of 35.8mpg and 179g/km CO2 for both cars.
The small weight gain means it basically behaves identically on the road, which means there is masses of grip from the Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tyres, wrapped around the ST’s 19-inch alloy wheels.
The fast steering is backed up by big bite from the chassis. Standard adaptive dampers also help here, and although the quality of the Ford’s suspension feels as good as some sports cars costing three times as much, it’s still firm – and over bad roads you’ll get jiggled around gently in your seat.
Sport further heightens this sensation, but also ties the ST’s body down with more aggression, so there’s less roll, more control and, ultimately, even greater cornering potential.
The trick is that it’s integrated nicely with the electronically-controlled limited-slip differential, which works brilliantly to find traction and boost the car’s agility. There’s lots of the latter, which means the ST serves up lots of easily accessible cross-country pace.
Quality is fine, and the standard kit list is generous. You get an eight-inch screen with sat-nav, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, parking sensors and a reversing camera, as well as that e-LSD, adaptive cruise with lane keep and autonomous braking, some brilliant part-leather Recaro sports seats, a B&O stereo, heated seats and steering wheel, keyless operation and adaptive LED lights.