RE: Ford Focus ST Estate diesel | Driven

RE: Ford Focus ST Estate diesel | Driven

Thursday 22nd August

Ford Focus ST Estate diesel | Driven

The oil-burning ST endures. Niche-filler or sleeper hit?



You might have thought diesel-powered hot hatches would be the first victim of the wider downturn, but Ford (among others) is grimly sticking with the concept of a go-faster oil-burner. The usual rules apply: the ST Estate gets the petrol model's styling enhancements and a similarly fettled chassis, but with a less powerful, weightier lump over the front axle. As ever, there's absolutely no guarantee that the same level of driving reward will survive the migration. Logic would suggest it won't.

Nevertheless, it is a cold-hearted sort of logic which typically instructs an ST buyer to begrudgingly tick the diesel box. Ford's 2.0-litre EcoBlue motor has 190hp and 295lb ft of torque, with the two peaks coming in quick succession - the latter arriving first from 2,000rpm and the former at 3,500rpm. The swift arrival of that grunt means the diesel Estate is the most capable load-lugger of the line-up, hauling up to 1,800kg of braked trailer, 200kg better than the 280hp/310lb ft petrol ST and, critically, identical to the Octavia vRS TDI, its closest competitor. Like the petrol, it's only four litres shy of the Skoda with up to 1,576 litres of boot space.

The Ford is marginally more powerful than the Octavia, and hauls itself to 62mph sixth tenths quicker. Which is impressive when the claimed kerbweights suggest that the Focus is more than 100kg heavier. Among other factors, that almost certainly contributes to a deficit in efficiency: 58.8mpg and 125g/km of CO2 compared to 62.8mpg and 119g/km for the vRS. Small dice if you were weighing up petrol models - but in the DERV-sipping stakes, that difference is likely to weigh heavy on the customer base.


Start the ST's turbocharged four-pot up and you'll find the typical clatter only audible if you're sat in complete silence or with the windows down. The tone doesn't change until you give it some welly, when piped-in induction noise takes centre stage and completely drowns out any sounds travelling naturally through the bulkhead, giving the diesel a deeper, more gravelly voice than even the rorty petrol. It really gets up and goes, too, pulling with a noticeable jump in force at 2,000rpm, before fading off after 4,500rpm in typical fashion. Unsurprisingly, its delivery has much in common with the Skoda's own 2.0-litre unit - but the ST does seem to offer a tad more gusto, helped no end by a precise sort of six-speed manual.

Build up to motorway pace and the motor settles to 1,900rpm at 70mph and is practically inaudible, meaning the ST does an unsurprisingly good job of playing a boggo Focus Estate. That being said, the lack of engine noise does serve to highlight the road noise generated by the model's wheels, a set of 235-width Michelin Pilot Sport 4Ss (with a compound bespoke to the ST range) on optional 19-inch alloys. And with no optional Continuously Controlled Damping (CCD) fitted to our test car - meaning it has two rather than three damper tubes and lacks the software to actively counter road imperfections - the ride is unquestionably firmer than its siblings. That's virtually a given when you factor a 40kg weight penalty (compared to the petrol ST) into the passively damped chassis, and results in a busy response to secondary intrusions. That said, there's sufficient give over bigger lumps and bumps for the car to resist any accusation of outright brittleness.

The pay-off for its determined bent is obvious enough, too. Stop driving the ST like a diesel estate and it grows into its configuration. Really work the engine through its meaty mid-range and the induction rumble starts to convince you that the model is actually deserving of its very fast steering. At two turns lock to lock - 15 per cent quicker than non-STs - it gives the Focus's front end a keenness that no other car in this segment can claim to match, and even the ride seems to smooth out at higher speeds.


Somewhat counter intuitively, the diesel hands more control to the driver than the petrol when in Sport and Race modes, as it doesn't have auto blipping on downshifts - which you can't turn off in the EcoBoost model. Those drive settings still prevent you from separating out the steering assistance from the powertrain, however, so as in the petrol, if you want a faster throttle and more noise, you're stuck with a weightier helm. It's not overly heavy, mind, but typical of EPAS in that it adds nothing but effort into the equation so tends to detract from the feeling of nimbleness.

Be that as it may, the diesel ST's saving grace are those shared chassis settings. Even in nose-heavy, slower guise, it displays a familiar eagerness. The wagon mixes a positive front end with stability, so you can really hammer along a route, and has not lost its capacity for slight over rotation on a trailed brake. Without question, it is more agile than Skoda's equivalent.

Is that enough to give Ford an upper hand in a class where performance isn't necessarily the defining characteristic? Given the ST's Β£3.5k premium and the vRS's modest superiority in economy and basic ride comfort, it would be hard to recommend the Focus as a superior all-court solution to the job of being a moderately quick estate car. But if you're specifically after a practical, high-mile-capable wagon with enough handling smarts to raise the odd smile, we'd put the ST a nose ahead of the buttoned-down Octavia. How's that for logic...


SPECIFICATION - FORD FOCUS ST ESTATE DIESEL

Engine: 1,996cc, turbocharged four-cyls
Transmission: 6-speed manual, front-wheel drive
Power (hp): 190@3,500rpm
Torque (lb ft): 295@2,000rpm
0-62mph: 7.7 secs
Top speed: 137mph
Weight: 1,585kg
MPG: 58.8mpg
CO2: 125g/km
Price: Β£30,595

Search for a Ford Focus ST here






Author
Discussion

wafisher

Original Poster:

9 posts

104 months

Thursday 22nd August
quotequote all
Who wants diesel?

Turbobanana

1,471 posts

146 months

Thursday 22nd August
quotequote all
Is there really any need to perpetuate the use of the acronym DERV (Diesel Engined Road Vehicle)? Sounds so 1970s, when diesels were an extreme rarity and confined to basic versions of mundane family cars.

Whether you like them or not* some are very good and almost as refined as petrol. Almost.

  • I drive one, but only because the car I drive (2011 Ford S-Max) was only available in top spec manual as a diesel.

Sten.

1,089 posts

79 months

Thursday 22nd August
quotequote all
wafisher said:
Who wants diesel?
Lots of people.

HTH

Andy Meads

296 posts

148 months

Thursday 22nd August
quotequote all
I like the new Focus. It’s a good looking car and seems to be a rewarding drive, although I’ve not yet driven one.

But I can’t help noticing the wide-mouthed frog gleefully grinning at me from the centre console. I see that it apes the shape of the grille, but the knobs above it complete the impression.

ZX10R NIN

15,089 posts

70 months

Thursday 22nd August
quotequote all
The old one was a decent steer so this one should be a good one for those that need this kind of car.

Miserablegit

737 posts

54 months

Thursday 22nd August
quotequote all
Ah yes, the Ford STD....
I think they are good looking cars - but I’m surprised people are still buying diesel sporty versions in the current climate. Still the VED con I presume...

wab172uk

1,370 posts

172 months

Thursday 22nd August
quotequote all
wafisher said:
Who wants diesel?
People who do big miles every year, that's who.

Biggriff

2,241 posts

229 months

Thursday 22nd August
quotequote all
Just looked at ST Estate and VRS. Plumped for VRS as it was nigh on £10k discount (timing was right to be fair) and dealer needed to meet target, but I bagged a lovely VRS Estate with DSG (Still the best box) and its not as contrived or fussy looking as the Ford.

The VW engines are infinitely tuneable if that's your thing, so any performance advantage to the Ford can easily be solved with a Revo Stage 1.

For many I suspect these cars represent their last diesel purchase and possibly the last car purchase directly burning fossil fuels.

cerb4.5lee

12,329 posts

125 months

Thursday 22nd August
quotequote all
Miserablegit said:
Ah yes, the Ford STD....
This made me smile and one of my mates used to call his Mondeo ST diesel this!

I've always preferred the petrol versions of the ST, but I understand that the market is there for these as well.

I'm from the XR era where diesel fortunately didn't even get a look in!! biggrin

Augustus Windsock

1,767 posts

100 months

Thursday 22nd August
quotequote all
[quote=Turbobanana]Is there really any need to perpetuate the use of the acronym DERV (Diesel Engined Road Vehicle)? Sounds so 1970s, when diesels were an extreme rarity and confined to basic versions of mundane family cars.

A bit like that wonderful bit of intuitive journalism when the acronym ‘NVH’ is quoted, immediately followed by (Noise, Vibration, Harshness).
Part of me thinks that if you don’t know what NVH stands for, you wouldn’t be reading about the dynamics of a car anyway...

steveb8189

239 posts

136 months

Thursday 22nd August
quotequote all
wab172uk said:
People who do big miles every year, that's who.
I only do 8k per year but lease my car. Diesel was less to lease for same performance as the equivalent petrol (Skoda Karoq 2.0TDI vs 1.4 TSI), better mpg (even considering diesel is more expensive) and costs me less to tax.



ahenners

294 posts

71 months

Thursday 22nd August
quotequote all
Biggriff said:
Just looked at ST Estate and VRS. Plumped for VRS as it was nigh on £10k discount (timing was right to be fair) and dealer needed to meet target, but I bagged a lovely VRS Estate with DSG (Still the best box) and its not as contrived or fussy looking as the Ford.

The VW engines are infinitely tuneable if that's your thing, so any performance advantage to the Ford can easily be solved with a Revo Stage 1.

For many I suspect these cars represent their last diesel purchase and possibly the last car purchase directly burning fossil fuels.
Despite being due for replacement soon, the current Octavia and in particular the VRS model is still a great car. That discount is not insignificant either, Ford need to discount this considerably if they want to sell them, £31k is strong money. VRS also nicer inside for materials and build quality even if a little more dated. Infotainment and virtual cockpit also trump's the Focus considerably, the graphics and UI on the Focus' infotainment is a bit naff.

Edited by ahenners on Thursday 22 August 09:28

TartanPaint

1,419 posts

84 months

Thursday 22nd August
quotequote all
wafisher said:
Who wants diesel?
I did, but since reading your comment I realised I was wrong. Thanks.

768

4,933 posts

41 months

Thursday 22nd August
quotequote all
Like STs.
Like estates.

Never could stand the look of an ST estate, can't put my finger on why.

ahenners

294 posts

71 months

Thursday 22nd August
quotequote all
768 said:
Like STs.
Like estates.

Never could stand the look of an ST estate, can't put my finger on why.
I know what you mean... I have the same thoughts about the Golf R. Like the hatch version, but hate the look of the estate. But I love estates. I think it's because smaller hatches look a bit stretched and elongated when turned into estates, whereas bigger cars don't look as stretched.

Dale487

1,013 posts

68 months

Thursday 22nd August
quotequote all
ahenners said:
Biggriff said:
Just looked at ST Estate and VRS. Plumped for VRS as it was nigh on £10k discount (timing was right to be fair) and dealer needed to meet target, but I bagged a lovely VRS Estate with DSG (Still the best box) and its not as contrived or fussy looking as the Ford.

The VW engines are infinitely tuneable if that's your thing, so any performance advantage to the Ford can easily be solved with a Revo Stage 1.

For many I suspect these cars represent their last diesel purchase and possibly the last car purchase directly burning fossil fuels.
Despite being due for replacement soon, the current Octavia and in particular the VRS model is still a great car. That discount is not insignificant either, Ford need to discount this considerably if they want to sell them, £31k is strong money. VRS also nicer inside for materials and build quality even if a little more dated. Infotainment and virtual cockpit also trump's the Focus considerably, the graphics and UI on the Focus' infotainment is a bit naff.

Edited by ahenners on Thursday 22 August 09:28
There are some decent looking offers on the Leon ST as well, which is due for replacement in the next year too, without even asking SEA will give you £3000 deposit contribution, plus a further £1000 with a voucher and 2 years servicing for £149. The 1.5 EVO is hardly any slower but lower on CO2 and is a petrol. The Leon isn't as big as the Octavia but is a better drive.

BigChiefmuffinAgain

152 posts

43 months

Thursday 22nd August
quotequote all
Must be a little worrying for Ford that this brand new car is only neck and neck with its main competitor, the Vrs, which is due for replacement very soon...

Biggriff

2,241 posts

229 months

Thursday 22nd August
quotequote all
And Ford dealers generally didnt give a damn. I just couldnt deal with Evans Halshaw. Utterly useless, yet the Skoda dealer was totally professional and gave me exactly what I wanted.

NewUsername

122 posts

1 month

Thursday 22nd August
quotequote all
ahenners said:
Biggriff said:
Just looked at ST Estate and VRS. Plumped for VRS as it was nigh on £10k discount (timing was right to be fair) and dealer needed to meet target, but I bagged a lovely VRS Estate with DSG (Still the best box) and its not as contrived or fussy looking as the Ford.

The VW engines are infinitely tuneable if that's your thing, so any performance advantage to the Ford can easily be solved with a Revo Stage 1.

For many I suspect these cars represent their last diesel purchase and possibly the last car purchase directly burning fossil fuels.
The petrol has big gains at stage 1 on the VRS (up to 300ish ps), the diesel not quite as much (approx 230ps max). That discount is not insignificant either, Ford need to discount this considerably if they want to sell them, £31k is strong money. VRS also nicer inside for materials and build quality even if a little more dated. Infotainment and virtual cockpit also trump's the Focus considerably, the graphics and UI on the Focus' infotainment is a bit naff.

Edited by ahenners on Thursday 22 August 09:22
Yes you're right, the Fords will all sell at list price and they aren't tuneable , only vag engines are tuneable ............. lolololol



marcom44

13 posts

49 months

Thursday 22nd August
quotequote all
My mate is looking at this as a company car. Tax reasons yet follow a 3-4 year diesel that slightly out of tune and under acceleration u get clouds of black smoke........ yes they are cheaper to run as a company car but are diesels really the right way to go I think not.