Steve Cropley
18 September 2012

What is it?

This is the new sporty Focus's more practical sibling, identical to the five-door ST hatchback in all the mechanical respects that matter– such as wheelbase, suspension settings, engine power and torque – but a little porkier at the kerb (by 25 kilograms), a little pricier to buy (by a remarkably reasonable £745) but just as quick against the watch and in top speed as the hatch. Its big claim to fame is a large and uncluttered carrying space of up to 1500 litres capacity, suitable for dogs and large furniture items that just aren't comfortable in a hatchback.

What is it like?

The measure of a great car, we always reckon, is when it shows impressive properties in exactly the opposite direction to the expected ones. The Focus ST estate is a great example. Sure, it's virtually as fast and agile as the saloon (you'd need to go head-to-head on a circuit to tell the difference), and expectedly capacious, but it's also remarkably supple-riding, comfortable and refined. This is one sporty car that has no drawbacks at all in long distance capability or day-to-day practicality, with the enormous bonus of being able to swallow as much luggage as you could possibly want to take on holiday.

The outright acceleration is strong and sustained, even above 100 mph, but the turbocharged four-cylinder engine is also remarkably flexible at low revs and when working at small throttle openings. This is one 154mph car in which the most sedate driver can feel at home. Seat and driving position comfort are special features: the ST Focus feels as good at the wheel as many a car a twice the price. Drawbacks? The gearchange action, though claimed to be improved when this Focus was introduced, is still well below par for the class. The dash layout, though faced in attractive piano-black in our top-spec ST-3 test car, is more complicated and confusing than the best in the class (you can bet the new Mk7 Golf will do it better) and there is a rather claustrophobic feeling not present in rivals.

Should I buy one?

Tough decision. There are so many good cars in this class that only a confirmed Ford lover or someone who doesn't much care about the car he/she drives would decide without trying the rest. But the Focus ST estate has to be a very strong contender for anyone who wants pace with practicality. Sporty Fords have always had a rather special halo, the prices seem  reasonable (especially the well but not over-equipped base ST) and the estate has all the excellence of the much-praised five-door hatch, if not quite the visual panache. It's a great car.

Ford Focus ST-3 EstatePrice: £26,240; 0-62mph: 6.5sec; Top speed: 154mph; Economy: 39.2mpg (combined); CO2: 169g/km; Kerb weight: 1380kg; Engine type: 4cyl petrol turbo, 2000cc; Installation: Front, transverse front-wheel-drive; Power: 247bhp at 5000rpm; Torque: 265lb ft at 1750rpm; Gearbox: 6-spd manual

Join the debate


Should I Buy One?

2 years 10 weeks ago

Is it a tough decision?

Okay, what other estate is out there with 247bhp, at circa £25k (for the lesser ST models) that can handle and entertain as much as this one?

The Octavia VRS may get close (although is undoubtedly more mature) but I can't think of any others.  There is certainly no news of a hot Golf Estate on the cards either.

Focus would be my choice.



It's all about the twisties........


One small design flaw for lifestyle performance wagon...

2 years 10 weeks ago

... and that is the centralised exhaust precluding a tow hitch and hence things like towbar mount bike carriers, towing the boat, etc. Oops! And yes the dash is chintzy-naff.

So close yet so far...

Are you watching, Renault?

2 years 10 weeks ago

I love fast estates, and have been fortunate enough to own a last gen' RS4, so I hope the ST estate is a success - not least because it might prompt Renault to build an RS wagon!

Residual Value?

2 years 10 weeks ago

Residuals will be interesting on this one - most hot hatches, GTI's etc hold their value far better that the cooking version of the same hatch as the boy racer brigade snap them up and they get tuned into oblivion.

Will the boy racer brigade still want to bee seen in an Estate, and if not will that kick residual values?

i think its better looking

2 years 10 weeks ago

i think its better looking than the hatch, has plenty of performance, more of a q car in estate form too. price is good. shame the interior is so off-putting. Still would be worth a drive to try it out.  

Finally, another non-premium sporty estate

2 years 10 weeks ago

Before i got the 159SW diesel i was looking around at sporty estates at about £10k, which excluding the premium fodder (way too expensive) consisted of the Octavia vRS and .... the .... ummm .... oh. Couldn't get the Octavia though - too dull IMHO. So this looks perfect for a future secondhand purchase ....

... except the dashboard is hideous. Ford and Hyundai both seem to have designers of dashboards who adore the '80's ghettoblaster. Not good!

And A34 is right, central exhaust isn't ideal either. Why design a car for a niche - medium sized performance estate - and then eliminate a reasonable proportion of that niche with one design flaw. Oops!

So, i guess the next car'll have to be a 159SW TBi after all ....



You're not stuck in traffic - you are traffic!!

It's not the centre exhaust...

2 years 10 weeks ago

...that will necessarily stop you from towing.

As I understand it the old ST wasn't type approved for towing so, I guess, there is no reason to assume this one would be?




If I knew what I was getting into, I wouldn't have done it...and I would have been wrong.

@ A34 - not being able to use

2 years 10 weeks ago

@ A34 - not being able to use a towbar mounted bike rack is no big deal when there are other solutions available (bootlid fixed ones) but I see your point about towing. Not sure in reality though how many people will want to tow using one of these. It allows the family man with kids and dog to still enjoy himself in the twisties.

Rest is not idleness, and to

2 years 1 day ago

Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass under trees on a summer's day, listening to the murmur of the water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is by no means a waste of time. ~J. Lubbock net sarees

Visco foam density one of the

1 year 36 weeks ago

Visco foam density one of the most important factors to consider when purchasing a mattress or topper.Low-density memory foam mattresses (2.5 pounds per cubic foot) can sometimes "bottom out" and usually aren't worth the lower price.memory foam pillow A quality mattress will ensure a good night's rest so we wake up refreshed and ready for the busy day ahead.Of course, this would produce a mattress that is not natural and, therefore, environmentally unfriendly.    

Please register or login to post a comment.

Our Verdict

The Ford Focus ST has gained a new four-pot motor, but does it have what it takes to gun for the Golf GTI?

Driven this week