You’ll be familiar with the hot hatchback. It’s a smallish, practical family car with lots of power and sharp handling. A car, in other words, that can take the kids to school during the week and destroy a B-road at the weekend.
A sub-genre of diesel hot hatchbacks has sprung up in recent years. Sounds odd, but it actually makes a lot sense. You get the same styling, near-enough the same handling, and three-quarters of the performance with half the running costs. And a considerably smaller company car tax bill which is, let’s face it, mostly the point.
But let’s not get overly cynical. The latest contender is the Ford Focus ST TDCi you see here – it’s actually the estate, a sub-genre of the sub-genre. It wades into battle sporting a 2.0-litre engine producing 183bhp and 295lb/ft of torque, 65bhp less but 30lb/ft more than the petrol ST.
It’s a good engine, a bit grumbly as Ford diesels are, but with a very strong mid-range. In fact, going by the performance figures, it seems to be geared more for grunt that outright speed – a 0-62mph time of 8.4 seconds and a top speed of 135mph aren’t impressive. But the overtaking squirt is incredible.
The handling lives up to the standards of the petrol Focus ST. You do loose something to the extra weight of the diesel engine, but you have to be looking really hard to notice. Of more concern is the ride, which gets harsh over ridges and broken surfaces, i.e. a typical British back road. In that environment you can live with it, but between that and the engine noise, it’s not as refined as it really should be.
The rest is as you would expect. I’m still not sold on the front-end styling with it’s gaping maw, but the bodykit strikes the right note. I’d have a darker colour, though. The interior is vastly better post-facelift, the touchscreen infotainment system in particular. Passengers have loads of space, luggage less so – the Focus estate has one of the smallest boots in the class.
The main competition comes from the VW Group, notably the VW Golf GTD Estate. The Golf is marginally faster, has a bigger boot and is much more refined. The Focus is a lot cheaper, more fun and more economical.
Fine margins. Ultimately, the choice comes down to badge. I’m a Ford man…
Ford Focus 2.0 TDCi ST-3 Estate
Engine: 2.0-litre 4-cylinder turbo diesel
Transmission: 6-speed manual; front-wheel-drive
Power/Torque: 183bhp; 295lb/ft
Economy/Emissions: 67.3mpg; 110g/km
0-62mph: 8.4 seconds
Top speed: 135mph
For more information click here
By Only Motors