Skoda Octavia vRS Estate vs Ford Focus ST Estate

The Skoda Octavia vRS has long been the performance estate of choice. Can this latest model see off the challenge of the Ford Focus ST?

Fast estates are nothing new, but they’ve normally been pricey upmarket models. The rapid Skoda Octavia vRS has long bucked that trend, with a versatile estate version available ever since the car debuted back in 2001.

• Skoda Octavia vRS Estate review 

Ford Focus ST Estate review 

The combination of space and pace has clearly been successful for Skoda, because the fast flagship load carrier is now in its third generation. Boasting more power than before, the all-new car is the fastest Skoda ever to wear the vRS badge. Yet it hasn’t forgotten its value roots: prices start at a reasonable £23,790, while the twin-clutch DSG model tested here is £25,180.

However, the Octavia isn’t the only practical family car that’s been given the go-faster treatment – Ford offers an ST version of its Focus estate. Featuring the same 247bhp turbocharged petrol engine, uprated chassis and brash looks as the impressive ST hatchback, the hot Ford promises to be as fast as it is vast. Like the Skoda, it’s decent value – the entry-level model costs £23,095. We tested the generously equipped £24,595 ST-2. So which will take top spot?

Head-to-head

Badge appeal Ford's ST and Skoda’s vRS badges are relative newcomers to the performance market. ST made its debut on the touring car-inspired Mondeo ST24 in 1997, before appearing on hot Fiestas and Focuses. Skoda’s first performance model was the 2001 Octavia vRS, packing the 180bhp turbo engine from the Audi TT. The badge also appeared on the 2003 Fabia vRS, which was only available with a 128bhp 1.9-litre diesel.

Load capacity

The Octavia takes some beating when it comes to practicality. Our measurements show its boot is longer and wider than the Ford’s, plus the load area has useful hooks, a ski flap and remote release lever for the folding rear seats.

On the road

If it’s real-world performance and driving fun you’re after, look no further than the Focus. A combination of higher torque and shorter gear ratios meant the Ford blitzed the Skoda during our in-gear acceleration tests, while its razor-sharp handling always raised a smile. The Octavia is far from slow, but it never feels as eager as the ST, while its engine sounds more muted. And although the Skoda always stays planted and secure, its chassis lacks the Ford’s feedback and adjustability.

Alternatives?

Vauxhall doesn’t offer a hot petrol version of its Astra Sports Tourer, but the 192bhp 2.0-litre CDTi BiTurbo diesel claims 0-62mph in 8.1 seconds and has a 500-litre boot. Yet at £25,115, it’s pricey.

Hatchbacks?

Like the Ford, the Skoda is also available as a traditional five-door hatchback. Prices start at £22,990 for the 217bhp petrol and £23,260 for the 181bhp diesel. Both versions can be fitted with a six-speed DSG gearbox for an extra £1,390.

1st place - Focus ST

The Ford’s storming performance and entertaining handling have survived the transformation from hatchback to estate. Few family cars are as much fun to drive. The brash looks won’t be to all tastes and it’s not as roomy as the Skoda, but in this test, driving thrills count for more.

2nd place - Skoda Octavia vRS

A vast boot, roomy interior and relatively low running costs combine to make the Skoda a fine choice. It’s also fastand composed on the road, while its stealthy looks are unlikely to attract unwanted attention. Yet it’s a bit dull to drive and the manual costs £695 more than the entry-level ST.

   Ford Focus Skoda Octavia
   ST-2 Estate vRS Estate 
On the road price/total as tested£24,595/£28,195£25,180/£27,335
Residual value (after 3yrs/36,000)£11,092/45.1%£10,022/39.8%
Depreciation £13,503 £15,158 
Annual tax liability std/higher rate£1,213/£2,426£1,049/£2,099
Annual fuel cost (12k/20k miles)£2,329/£3,882£2,127/£3,545
Ins. group/quote/road tax band/cost36/£429/H/£20029/£385/F/£140
Servicing costs £785 (3yrs/30k)£529 (3yrs/30k)
       
Length/wheelbase 4,556/2,648mm4,685/2,686mm
Height/width 1,482/2,010mm1,452/1,814mm
Engine  4cyl in-line/1,999cc4cyl in-line/1,984cc
Peak power/revs 247/5,500 bhp/rpm217/4,500 bhp/rpm
Peak torque/revs 360/1,750 Nm/rpm350/1,500 Nm/rpm
Transmission 6-spd man/fwd6-spd DSG/fwd
Fuel tank capacity/spare wheel62 litres/space saver50 litres/repair kit
Boot capacity (seats up/down)476/1,502 litres610/1,740 litres
Kerbweight/payload/towing weight1,461/564kg/N/A1,387/566/1,600kg
Turning circle/drag coefficient11.0 metres/N/A10.4 metres/0.32Cd
Basic warranty (miles)/recovery3yrs (60,000)/1yr3yrs (60,000)/3yrs
Service intervals/UK dealers12,500 miles (1yr)/78110,000 miles (1yr)/165
Driver Power manufacturer/dealer pos.70th/23rd 6th/2nd 
Euro NCAP: Adult/child/ped./stars92/82/72/5 93/86/66/5 
       
0-60/30-70mph 6.7/5.7 secs 6.4/5.0 secs 
30-50mph in 3rd/4th 2.8/3.3 secs 2.6/3.9 secs 
50-70mph in 5th/6th 4.3/5.5 secs 5.6/7.6 secs 
Top speed/rpm at 70mph154mph/2,500rpm152mph/2,000rpm
Braking 70-0/60-0/30-0mph50.4/37.8/9.2m*49.0/30.8/8.4m
Noise outside/idle/30/70mph60/43/61/71dB59/45/63/71dB
Auto Express econ (mpg/mpl)/range30.5/6.8/416 miles33.4/7.4/367 miles
Govt urban/extra-urban/combined28.2/50.4/39.2mpg34.9/52.3/44.1mpg
Govt urban/extra-urban/combined6.3/11.2/8.7mpl7.8/11.6/9.8mpl
Actual/claimed CO2/tax bracket214/169g/km/25%195/149g/km/21%
       
Airbags/Isofix/rear parking sensorsSix/yes/yes Seven/yes/yes
Automatic box/stability/cruise ctrlNo/yes/£250Yes/yes/£180
Climate control/leather/heated seatsYes/part/no Yes/£800/£200
Metallic paint/xenons/keyless go£525/no/yes£495/yes/£300
Sat-nav/USB connection/Bluetooth£750/yes/yes£550/yes/yes

Most Popular

New 2022 BMW M3 Touring officially confirmed
BMW 3 Series Touring

New 2022 BMW M3 Touring officially confirmed

New hot BMW M3 Touring estate on the way and it’ll feature the same 503bhp straight-six engine as the saloon. Our exclusive image previews how it coul…
12 Aug 2020
Next-generation Nissan Qashqai spied ahead of 2020 launch
Nissan Qashqai

Next-generation Nissan Qashqai spied ahead of 2020 launch

Our spy photographers have spotted the new Nissan Qashqai during its development programme – although it’s still wearing heavy camo
13 Aug 2020
New 2021 Kia Stinger facelift revealed with new look and tech
Kia Stinger

New 2021 Kia Stinger facelift revealed with new look and tech

The Kia Stinger gets a subtle new look as part of a facelift for 2021
12 Aug 2020