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Can the diesel-powered estate version of the new hot Ford Focus excite in quite the same way as the petrol hatchback?

Our Verdict

Ford Focus ST

The Ford Focus ST has a new four-pot motor and a diesel added to the range, but does it have what it takes to gun for the Volkswagen Golf GTI and Golf GTD?

2 July 2019

What is it?

This is the far extreme of the new Ford Focus ST family from the petrol hatchback that we've already reviewed. The 2.0-litre EcoBlue diesel engine will be offered in both the hatchback and estate, and it's the practical wagon we have here.

With 187bhp, this is the most powerful diesel-powered Focus to date, but it's still substantially down on power compared to the 276bhp 2.3-litre ST Ecoboost.

Diesel buyers must make other concessions, too. The EcoBlue will be offered only with a six-speed manual gearbox, not offering the Ecoboost's optional seven-speed automatic. It's also 42kg heavier and therefore slower: Ford's claimed 7.7sec 0-62mph time is respectable but some way off the petrol estate's 5.8sec.

Estate versions of the Focus ST ride on passive dampers, rather than the standard adaptive set-up of the petrol hatchback, while diesel hatchback buyers will be able to opt for the active system. The diesel also does without the clever electronically controlled limited-slip differential.

Recompense comes from the EcoBlue engine's far superior economy – 58.7mpg combined on the official test - and lower price; at £30,595, it's £2500 cheaper than the Ecoboost.

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What's it like?

There's little surprise that the EcoBlue feels a bit dull and worthy when compared directly against the snarling petrol model. Yet against the criteria that can be fairly applied to a diesel estate, it's a seriously impressive thing.

Beyond an artfully tuned, bass-heavy exhaust note that might occasionally persuade occupants there's something bigger and brawnier lurking under the bonnet, the EcoBlue engine offers little in the way of excitement. It has slightly less torque than the Ecoboost (295lb ft to 310lb ft), but its peak is available at a lowlier 2000rpm, and it quickly makes its preference for an easy life obvious. It will rev all the way to the 5000rpm limiter if the mood takes you, but it clearly doesn't enjoy the exercise and makes a vocal protest. It's happiest in its muscular mid-range, and on a test route that included the demanding Col de Vence road near Nice, the EcoBlue proved willing to pull without complaint on steep gradients from less than 2000rpm in fourth and fifth gears.

Throttle response is much mushier than that of the snappy Ecoboost, and even Sport mode does little to sharpen it. The diesel Focus ST carries almost all of its extra weight over its front axle, and without the clever electronically controlled differential, it feels much less fleet of foot and unable to over-accelerate its outside rear tyre under power. On the plus side, grip levels remain high and the handling balance is entirely benign, with the estate tightening its line progressively on an eased throttle.

Although the engine gets vocal when worked hard, refinement is otherwise good, and the passive dampers actually deal more comfortably with broken surfaces than the adaptive setup. There's less body discipline at higher speeds, but it still feels impressively well lashed down at speed for a sizeable estate.

There are some mild complaints. As with the hatchback, the throttle and brake pedal are too far apart for easy heel-and-toe shifts; the optional Performance Pack adds a rev-matching function, but sometimes it's fun to try it yourself. The new electronic brake booster has also give the middle pedal a slightly odd feel under hard use, not lacking in resistance yet missing some communication.

Although a lesser dynamic prospect, the diesel estate still has plenty of ST-ness, thanks to a well-judged bodykit, handsome 19in alloy wheels and even a subtle rear spoiler. Beyond a rev counter that turns red just past the number five, the interior is pretty much identical, meaning you get the same supremely supportive, full-leather Recaro seats. It's also as big and useful as any other Focus Estate, with plenty of room for rear-seat passengers and a large, luggage-hungry boot.

Should I buy one?

The Focus ST Estate EcoBlue finds itself in a lonely part of the market, empty apart from its only obvious rival, the Volkswagen Golf GTD Estate. The big difference is that since the 'Mk7.5' facelift, the GTD is now available with only a dual-clutch automatic gearbox, a point of distinction that will probably do as much to decide preference as any other difference between two rivals so closely matched on performance and price.

Ford acknowledges that this diesel Focus ST will be less popular than the previous one as buyers switch away from compression ignition. But for higher-mileage users, it remains a sensible, if less exciting, choice than the Ecoboost.

Ford Focus ST Estate 2.0 EcoBlue specification

Where Nice, France Price £30,595 On sale Now Engine 4 cyls, 1996cc, turbocharged, diesel Power 187bhp at 3500rpm Torque 295lb ft at 2000rpm Gearbox Six-spd manual Kerb weight 1585kg Top speed 135mph 0-62mph 7.7sec Fuel economy 58.7mpg CO2 125g/km Rivals Volkswagen Golf GTD Estate

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Comments
12

3 July 2019

Just brings the ST name down

typos1 - Just can’t respect opinion

4 July 2019
xxxx wrote:

Just brings the ST name down

Yep. A diesel compact wagon with an ST badge?

It's getting harder and harder to be a Ford fan!

3 July 2019

'There are some mild complaints. As with the hatchback, the throttle and brake pedal are too far apart for easy heel-and-toe shits;'

3 July 2019

Like it's petrol engined sister the diesel Focus ST is still a cracking car for the money and the option of a estate is a real bonus it my opinion it looks better than the regular five door. The grey colour of the test car doesn't really do justice to it,personally  I'd take the Performance Pack and a big lairy colour like Orange Fury or Performance Blue and live it large.  It's rather a pity that with the mix of fuel economy and performance the diesel Focus ST that it is an example of the right car coming out at the wrong time, and it makes be wonder what the Focus RS will be like.

3 July 2019

Very clunky looking, especially in side profile.  Can’t imagine buying one over a Golf GTD.

The car-buying public gets what it deserves, unfortunately ...

3 July 2019

There are those who critisise the interior and that its not so well made as V W,s Golf. Well You dont read, well I have not seen that Ford Interios are known for falling apart. On the other hand 2 good friends one with a  Gold GTD and one with a GTI which have both had to make visits to V W for various rattles  and loose trim issues. So are they one offs or is that V W are really good are promoting  thier supposed quality product or like their diesel issue telling a few porkies ,another good friend with an Audi also  had interior fitting problems  .Just a thought  ??!!

3 July 2019
Antony Riley wrote:

There are those who critisise the interior and that its not so well made as V W,s Golf. Well You dont read, well I have not seen that Ford Interios are known for falling apart. On the other hand 2 good friends one with a  Gold GTD and one with a GTI which have both had to make visits to V W for various rattles  and loose trim issues. So are they one offs or is that V W are really good are promoting  thier supposed quality product or like their diesel issue telling a few porkies ,another good friend with an Audi also  had interior fitting problems  .Just a thought  ??!!

One off's my friend. I've had four Golfs and my current GTD is a fantastic all-rounder with no faults. It's such a good all-rounder I am buying it at the end of my PCP term next year. Sure, it's not the quickest car out there but it does do a great job of being fast enough whilst having handling ability that will get it over the line. No issues. Just a nice car that looks good and I'll drive it until we aren't allowed to drive diesels anymore. So basically it goes from my ownership once it's done silly miles and is starting to be expensive to repair. It's that good. Shame I couldn't afford the DSG. I could now but then I couldn't two years ago and I won't be selling it for that reason - the manual gearbox is from the GTI so it's not shabby!

4 July 2019
Antony Riley wrote:

There are those who critisise the interior and that its not so well made as V W,s Golf. Well You dont read, well I have not seen that Ford Interios are known for falling apart. On the other hand 2 good friends one with a  Gold GTD and one with a GTI which have both had to make visits to V W for various rattles  and loose trim issues. So are they one offs or is that V W are really good are promoting  thier supposed quality product or like their diesel issue telling a few porkies ,another good friend with an Audi also  had interior fitting problems  .Just a thought  ??!!

Yep. I only shop for used cars - bangers, they are apparently called over there. Here, a banger is a top tune, but I digress. The supposedly good quality VW and Audi interiors almost always are shit, showing far more wear than those of Ford, Toyota, Mazda, Honda, Nissan, Hyundai and Kia. No surprise, as the company is full of shit, built on a foundation of dishonesty. And bullshit.

Choose a Golf over this? Not sure if trolling, or just fooled by bullshit.

4 July 2019
jason_recliner wrote:
Antony Riley wrote:

There are those who critisise the interior and that its not so well made as V W,s Golf. Well You dont read, well I have not seen that Ford Interios are known for falling apart. On the other hand 2 good friends one with a  Gold GTD and one with a GTI which have both had to make visits to V W for various rattles  and loose trim issues. So are they one offs or is that V W are really good are promoting  thier supposed quality product or like their diesel issue telling a few porkies ,another good friend with an Audi also  had interior fitting problems  .Just a thought  ??!!

Yep. I only shop for used cars - bangers, they are apparently called over there. Here, a banger is a top tune, but I digress. The supposedly good quality VW and Audi interiors almost always are shit, showing far more wear than those of Ford, Toyota, Mazda, Honda, Nissan, Hyundai and Kia. No surprise, as the company is full of shit, built on a foundation of dishonesty. And bullshit. Choose a Golf over this? Not sure if trolling, or just fooled by bullshit.

No Jason, you're just full of venomous shit. Now kindly do one and go and listen to a "banger". Yes, we have that term here too - it's not a rare one. Well done. 

3 July 2019

Stupid to use this engine - Theres a twin turbo version of this engine they could have used, would have been much more in keeping with the badge, madness to drop the diff too. Still no fan of the interior or exterior styling of this Focus.

XXXX just went POP.

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