"The Ford Focus ST Estate offers a top-quality drive, pleasing appearance, terrific seats and handy extra boot space."
The Ford Focus ST estate is a family estate car with a big difference. This comes in the form of a 247bhp 2.0-litre turbocharged engine under the bonnet, providing high-speed thrills and plenty of power. But the ST estate has the handling to match, being one of the most fun cars to drive at this price in the UK. The Focus ST estate comes win three specifications, ST, ST-2 and ST-3, all of which benefit from outlandish body styling, a larger grille and alloy wheels as standard. It's a bit much for some, but many will find the ST estate to be a cool-looking and desirable way to transport their family and all the associated a luggage up and down the country. It can be used easily every day, but when you want to have fun, the ST estate has everything you could ever need.
MPG, running costs & CO2 emissions
The Ford Focus ST estate's 2.0-litre turbo petrol engine will do 39.2mpg, which is quite economical for a powerful engine – though don’t expect to see anywhere near that in reality. Of course, compared to a diesel engine in the standard estate it's not particularly impressive, but that's not the point of the ST, is it? Emissions disappoint, too, with the ST estate's engine emitting 169g/km – resulting in £200 a year in road tax.
Interior & comfort
Being a performance model, the Focus ST estate is a bit firmer than the standard car, though not so much that it's particularly uncomfortable. The Focus can still behave itself and transport a family in comfort when you want it to, with enough movement in the suspension to soak up all but the biggest bumps in the road. It's great for longer journeys as well, since when you aren’t pushing the engine hard, it's quiet and composed.
Practicality & boot space
For a performance model, the Ford Focus ST estate offers loads of practicality – a hatchback boot, plenty of rear legroom and good visibility all add to the car's long list of good points. However, the boot isn’t nearly as big as that of the rival Skoda Octavia vRS estate – the Ford's 476 litres compares with the Skoda's 610 litres. Folding the rear seats down does improve things, however, with the load area expanding to 1,502 litres. That's still not as much as the Skoda, but it's probably enough for most families and all their gear. Buyers looking for a fun car for towing should look elsewhere though, as the awkwardly-placed central exhaust pipe means a towbar can’t be fitted.
Reliability & safety
Ford only placed 23rd in the 2013 Auto Express Driver Power customer satisfaction survey, and the Focus sits at number 70 in the list of best cars. However the extensive dealer network and good build quality of the Ford Focus ST estate do point towards solid reliability. It's safe too, with the standard model getting the full five stars from the Euro NCAP crash safety tests. Safety equipment is abundant, with curtain airbags, anti-skid control, lane departure warning and ISOFIX child seat fixings all standard.
Engines, drive & performance
The Ford Focus ST is really powerful (especially the Ford-approved Mountune version, which gets 271bhp) – making it very exciting to drive. The car goes from 0-62mph in 6.5 seconds and makes a great noise from the central exhaust pipe. However if you drive more sensibly, the noise goes away and the Ford is capable of being an everyday family car again. The steering and handling is also excellent, so the ST estate is definitely among the best small fast estate cars out there.
Price, value for money & options
The Ford Focus ST estate doesn’t have many rivals, and it's bargain list price means it's great value for money if you are after this sort of car. It's cheaper than the Skoda Octavia vRS estate and better to drive too, so if you are after a practical and fast estate then the Focus ST is a great choice. Standard equipment includes a leather steering wheel, digital radio, Bluetooth, USB, air-conditioning, sports seats and alloy wheels. What's more, the estate version of the ST only costs about £1,000 more than the hatchback.