Ford Focus ST estate
Price £23,845 - £28,995
- Fun and engaging to drive
- Powerful and responsive engine
- More subtle and practical than hatchback
- Ride is quite firm
- Not suitable for towing
- Bigger estates are available
At a glance
"The Ford Focus ST estate is a no-compromise car: you get all the practicality of a family estate combined with the performance of a hot hatch."
Not so long ago, sporty estate cars were only produced by upmarket brands like Audi and Mercedes, meaning the cars were usually unaffordable for a lot of buyers. Recently, however, other car makers have turned their attention to making fast versions of their standard estates, so that now there is much more choice for people who want to enjoy power and performance as well as the practical aspects of their cars, like boot space and room for the kids.
The Ford Focus ST estate is one of the best in its class, despite strong competition from the likes of the Volkswagen Golf GTD estate, Seat Leon ST Cupra and Skoda Octavia vRS estate. Two excellent engines help the Ford's case, with buyers having the choice between a 247bhp 2.0-litre petrol engine or a 182bhp 2.0-litre diesel. The diesel claims the best economy figures, as you'd expect, offering excellent running costs given the performance on offer, while the EcoBoost technology of the petrol engine means it's surprisingly efficient despite coming second to the diesel.
It's easy to get caught up in the performance figures of a car like the Focus ST estate but that's not to forget how practical it is. The boot is spacious at 476 litres and it comes with a generous level of standard equipment despite an asking price that undercuts most of its major competition. There are some design touches that hint at the Focus ST estate's performance credentials but we don't think it's too over-the-top, with no giant wing or overly-dramatic bodykit to give it an out-and-out boy racer image.
MPG, running costs & CO2
Ford Focus ST diesel estate is the one to go for if you want to keep running costs low
Official figures for the 2.0-litre diesel model are 67mpg with CO2 emissions of 110g/km, resulting in an annual tax bill of just £20 - impressive given the ST estate's speed.
The extra performance of the petrol engine and the way it delivers its power will tempt the purist, and this won't break the bank in terms of running costs. The 2.0-litre EcoBoost engine claims 41mpg and emits 159g/km of CO2 for a road tax bill of £180 per year, putting it very marginally behind the SEAT Leon ST Cupra, which returns 43mpg while emitting 157g/km of CO2.
Due to their ubiquity, Fords usually fare poorly when it comes to residual values but happily the ST is an exception to this rule. The car tends to retain around 46% of its purchase price after three years or 36,000 miles of ownership. Servicing can be a little on the high side, with Ford charging £785 for three years' worth of maintenance.
Engines, drive & performance
EcoBoost engine makes the petrol version of the Ford Focus ST estate the performance choice
The Focus ST estate petrol produces 247bhp and will accelerate from 0-62mph in 6.7 seconds – just two tenths of a second slower than the petrol hatchback version. Top speed is 154mph.
There's also a Focus Mountune tuning package too, which boosts power to 271bhp, which makes the estate good for a 0-62mph in the 5.7 second range. While it's certainly faster, it feels a little too much for the Focus ST's chassis, which is a real shame.
Figures for the diesel are less impressive, with a 182bhp power output giving an 8.3-second 0-62mph time and a top speed of 135mph. But when you consider just how cheap the diesel is to run, its performance figures are still pretty remarkable.
To go along with its engine power, the Focus ST estate is great fun to drive, with sharp steering, well judged ride quality and great agility on twisty roads. In the petrol model, you get a raspy engine note pumped straight into the cabin when you accelerate hard, but it settles down nicely for motorway cruising if you're not in the mood.
There can be some wheelspin if you accelerate hard (especially in the wet) so a degree of caution is needed. Strong brakes and a snappy, satisfying gearchange complete the car's highly involving driving experience.
Interior & comfort
Unlike some performance models, the Ford Focus ST estate remains a comfortable everyday car
The Ford Focus ST estate is the same shape and size inside and out as the standard Ford Focus estate, and the cabin is largely unchanged from the standard model's, too. The two main differences are the addition of snug, supportive Recaro seats for the driver and front-seat passenger, as well as three extra dials on top of the dashboard giving you more information about what's going on under the bonnet.
As far as comfort goes, the ST estate has the same slightly stiffer suspension as the ST hatchback, so you'll feel lumps and bumps in the road more readily than you would in a regular Focus. But this firmer suspension is one of the main reasons the ST estate is so good to drive, so we think it's a trade-off worth making. It's not unbearably uncomfortable, either, striking a good balance between soaking up bumps and minimising body lean in corners.
Practicality & boot space
Large boot makes the Ford Focus ST estate one of the most family-friendly performance cars you can buy
The Ford Focus ST estate has a 476-litre boot, which expands to 1,502 litres when you fold the back seats down. The corresponding figures for the ST hatchback are 316 and 1,101 litres, yet performance and efficiency figures for the two models are almost identical, so there's very little penalty for choosing the estate.
The fast Focus isn't quite a match for the Skoda Octavia vRS estate, however, which can pack in 238 more litres of luggage with its back seats down. On the plus side, the Focus does include handy touches such as shopping bag hooks and a hidden underfloor storage area.
Space for passengers is good but not great – the sculpted Recaro rear seats leave the middle passenger in the back perched uncomfortably high, so you're better off carrying just two adults back there. Headroom and legroom in the back isn't quite as good as in the Octavia vRS, either, but there are at least plenty of cabin storage spaces for your odds and ends.
Reliability & safety
The Ford Focus ST estate isn't quite as solidly built as its VW Group rivals
The Ford Focus ST generally doesn't sell in big enough numbers to make an appearance in our Driver Power customer satisfaction survey in its own right, while the regular Focus has only achieved middling results in recent years. The ST estate does feel reasonably well put-together, however, if not quite approaching the rock-solid fit and finish of VW group models such as the Volkswagen Golf GTD estate, SEAT Leon ST Cupra and Skoda Octavia vRS estate.
As for safety, the Focus estate hasn't been crash-tested seperately by Euro NCAP, but the hatchback version achieved the maximum five-star score when it was evaluated in 2012. Safety kit available on the ST includes airbags, lane-departure warning, a driver tiredness monitor, automatic braking, a cross-traffic alert system and lane-keeping assistance.
Price, value for money & options
The Ford Focus ST estate is both well priced and well equipped
The Ford Focus ST estate mirrors the trim levels of the ST hatchback, so every version is well equipped. The basic ST1 verison includes 18-inch alloy wheels, a racy bodykit, DAB digital radio, Ford's SYNC infotainment system with voice control, Recaro sports seats, sports suspension and the Ford MyKey, which can be used to limit the car's top speed and stereo volume.
Upgrading to ST2 gets you automatically activated windscreen wipers and headlights, part-leather trim on the Recaro seats and dual-zone climate control. The range-topping ST3 model boasts bright bi-xenon headlights, full leather trim, power-adjustable front seats and an eight-inch colour touchscreen.
The most useful options for the Focus ST estate include sat nav and a reversing camera for £750, as well as the £550 Driver Assistance, which includes lane-departure warning, automatic emergency braking and automatically dipping headlights.