Welcome to the new Ford Focus ST Estate, a car I believe, could be all the performance car you’ll ever need. Why? Let me explain…
*Just a quick disclaimer, I have limited photos of the car as sadly my camera was stolen, so I lost a lot of content for this review*
A big boot
For starters, it has a big boot. Open up the tailgate and you’ll be greeted with 608 litres worth of space, which is more than a VW Golf R Estate and a SEAT Leon Cupra R Estate, although it is a little bit smaller than a Skoda Octavia vRS Estate. Access to the boot is easy as the load lip is low, plus the boot itself is a good shape. For those looking to load up mountain bikes or other larger items, you can do so by folding the 60/40 rear seats to liberate 1,653 litres. Whilst I had the car I was even able to squeeze in a double mattress!
Right, what about the performance, though?
However, what good is a performance car without a decent engine? Thankfully Ford hasn’t forgotten to address that area. It’s not too often nowadays that car manufacturers increase displacement for a new model, but that’s exactly what the Blue Oval has done, as the fourth generation ST boasts a 2.3 litre EcoBoost four cylinder whereas the old car had to ‘make do’ with a 2.0 litre variant.
The 2.3 litre engine is related to that used in the outgoing Focus RS, so it’s bound to be a firecracker. That certainly looks the case on paper; the engine offers 280hp along with a whopping 420Nm of torque. There is also the choice of a diesel engine, but I have a review for that model coming soon, so keep your eyes peeled.
Unlike the the Golf R and Cupra R, the ST only sends its power to the front wheels, with a choice of either a 6-speed manual, or a 7-speed automatic. The 6-speed manual is fitted to the car tested here, and if you work it hard enough, the ST will propel you to 62mph in 5.8 seconds, considerably faster than than the old model, and the top speed is 155mph.
Sounds great on paper, but what about on the road?
The ST comes with a choice of three driving modes; Slippery, Normal, or Sport; however, the car I had was fitted with the optional Performance Pack. Interestingly, you can’t actually get this pack for the Estate, but you can of course, get it for the hatchback. Costing £250 (£800 for the diesel version), it adds goodies such as Track driving mode, shift indicator, launch control, rev match function and most importantly, multi colour ambient lighting! Seriously, I don’t know Ford included that feature as part of the Performance Pack…
As you can predict, I spent most of my time in Sport, because, hey, why wouldn’t you? In Sport mode the exhaust gets fruitier, the engine is more responsive, and the steering becomes heavier. Find an open stretch of road and I’m very confident you won’t get out the car without a smile painted upon your face. This is just as well, as it’s not quite the working class hero that Ford fans are used to having.
If you go for the petrol estate, you’re looking at a starting price of £33,695, and unlike previous ST models, the new one only comes in on trim level, but I’ll speak about specification later in the review. However, I’d like to talk about one thing that you get as standard for the EcoBoost model, and that is Ford’s clever anti-lag technology. Inspired by the GT, it’s a system in which it keeps the turbo spinning when you lift off the throttle in either Sport mode or Track mode.
Supercar inspired performance
This means – as the name would suggest – there’s no lag when it comes to the turbo, meaning you have all the power available, no matter when you want or need it. This helps to ST feel super responsive, and thanks to the larger engine, it feels muscular and chunky. That’s actually a good word to describe the car, ‘chunky’, as the same word can be used for the steering feel, the pedal feel and the steering wheel itself.
Keep it manual
Let’s speak about the gearchange as that is an area where the ST has to be celebrated. As mentioned, a 7-speed automatic will become available, but I’d urge you to go for the manual if possible. It’s not quite as crisp as that found in the Civic Type R, but it’s not too far behind. The change is slick, mechanical and a very enjoyable component to use.
Any torque steer?
Yes, but not quite as much as you’d expect. When you send almost 300hp to the front wheels, there is always going to be a risk of them trying to fight as they deliver the power to the tarmac. It certainly is noticeable, but it’s not dominating like putting a ghost chilli in a curry. Don’t think you will need to wrestle the car in to the corners, or having to fight high amount amount of understeer in the corners.
No, as you would expect from any Fast Ford worth its salt, the ST is more than competent when going gets twisty even in estate form. Despite its extra weight and bigger body shape, the steering is more direct than I was expecting and it’s certainly a positive aspect of the handling. A flick of the wrist is all you need to get the car to change direction, making the car agile and dare I say, light on its feet?
The anti-lag isn’t the only trick up the ST’s sleeve…
The clever anti-lag isn’t the only trick bit of engineering from the Ford Performance team. For the petrol version, the ST also benefits from something called an ‘e-LSD’. In essence, it’s an electronic limited slip diff, which makes used of hydraulic clutches and fancy sensors to detect when slippage is going to occur, before nipping it in the bud.
Ford is very confident to say this setup is better than a traditional mechanical limited slip differential as a mechanical diff addressed wheelspin when it happens, where as Ford’s system stops the wheelspin before it even happens. On the road, it’s definitely impressive, and you can notice the difference compared to torque vectoring system used in the diesel ST. As well as the e-LSD, the ST also makes use of sticky Michelin tyres and brakes that offer FOUR times the stopping power than the last ST.
As practical as it is fast
The beauty of the Estate version of the ST is that you have loads of space to play with. As mentioned, the boot is a decent size, but what about the rest of the car? There’s a healthy amount of space in the rear, even for a taller person, and there’s useful cubbies as well. Getting a comfortable driving position is easy as the sporty steering wheel adjusts for rake and reach, plus the front seats are electronically adjustable as well as heated.
Disappointingly, though, there is no memory function for the driver’s seat, which may become grating it’s going to be a shared family car. The front also features a good amount of cubbyholes, so there is no reason why the ST cannot fit in your family life.
What do you like about it most?
I’d say it’s how meaty it feels, how brawny and muscular the ST feels.
Why is it so loved by chavs?
Erm, I don’t know. If you really want that answered I’d urge you to visit your local McDonald’s around midnight – I’m sure there will be someone there to answer your question.
What’s the boot like? 0-62 time? MPG?
Boot has already been covered, but that offers 608 litres, 0-62 is 5.8 seconds, and MPG? Who cares about that, it’s a performance car! No, joking side, on a combined run, Ford states that ST is good for 39.8mpg.
Is there any of the torque steer that plagued old STs?
Yes, I’m afraid there is, but it’s manageable, and I doubt it will be a major concern for the majority of owners.
Nice car, what does not work is inside, and the layout?
I kid you not, I’ve written that question word-for-word. Just a tip, if you’re going to send in a question, make sure you’re not blind drunk when you do it. I think what they were trying to ask, is if there anything on the inside that does not work. The ST is of course based on a Focus, so it’s practical, sensible and easy to use.
When car manufacturers say electronic limited slip differential, is it the same as the older generation, which brakes any wheelspin, or an actual LSD with electronic gubbins?
I’d say it’s more of the latter. Basically, what this system has, is hydraulic clutches and dynamic sensors, which are able to detect when wheelspin is likely to happen and address it, unlike a limited slip diff that waits for wheelspin to actually occur.
A firm ride, but not unbearable
The ST sits lower compared to the rest of the Focus range and it has sportier suspension to match, so what is the ride like? As you would expect it is firm, but not to the point where you couldn’t live with the car day to day. Yes, I reckon a Golf R would be a bit more compliant, and would feel more grown up, but ST isn’t probably too far behind.
The damping is pretty good, and should do enough to protect from the majority of imperfections the lovely UK roads has to offer. Oh, and don’t forget you’ve got those wonderful Recaro seats to sit in, which thankfully from a driver’s perspective, are set lower than previous generations.
What about refinement?
Refinement on the whole. is pretty good. As standard, the ST rides on 19″ alloy wheels, so there is of course some road noise to contend with, but it’s not deafening, and the wind noise is pretty controlled as well. The engine isn’t too boomy either, but from a petrolhead perspective, I do wish you could hear the engine noise a bit more in the cabin.
Sorry, you’ve forgotten the specification
Ah yes, the specification. The ST is not exactly ‘cheap’ at a starting price of £33,695 – in the case of the petrol estate – but Ford has helped to justify this by adding a lot of kit as standard. I do hope you’re comfortable as it’s quite a long list. So, standard features include, ST styling, double exhaust pipe, 19″ alloys, LED headlights, LED tail lights, ST suspension, e-LSD, reversing camera, rear privacy glass, B&O sound system, 8″ touchscreen, DAB radio, Bluetooth, navigation, smartphone connectivity, heated front seats and steering wheel, Recaro seats, front and rear parking sensors, dual zone climate control – the list goes on and on.
The ST may seem a bit pricey in paper, but you get loads as standard, and more importantly, loads of performance. It looks great, it goes like the clappers, makes a great noise, and knows its way around a corner. Add that to a practical estate body, and I really do believe this is all the performance car you’ll ever need.
Car Obsession Rating: (5 / 5)
- Great performance
- Very practical
- Lots of kit comes as standard
- Superb handling
- Can be used as a daily driver with no issues
- A bit pricey
- Maybe not quite as refined or grown up as a Golf
Volkswagen Golf R Estate
VW has recently unveiled the new Golf, the Mk8, but there are very little details on the R Estate at the time of writing, but that is bound to one of the main rivals for the Focus. The R is all wheel drive, and it lacks a manual gearbox, so it may not appeal as much to purists.
SEAT Leon Cupra R Estate
Like the Golf, the Leon has recently enjoyed the unveiling of a new model, so we’re not yet at a point where a Cupra version is made available. Like the R, though, it’s bound to be all wheel drive with the exclusion of a manual gearbox, so once more, the Focus may be the better bet for purists.