Fast estates are always cool and the Ford Focus ST is a case in point. You get (nearly) the same performance and handling as the hatchback, but the dog can come along for the ride, as well.

What was true of the old car is true of this latest generation Focus ST, just unveiled in its estate form. And it’s definitely cooler than the hatchback. And, we think, a bit of a looker. Which is surprising, as the Mk.4 Focus in its lesser forms is a bit gawky.

It’s quite subtle, too, in both its hatchback and estate forms. The previous Focus ST in particular was a bit of an extrovert, with its big bumpers, big spoiler, big wheels and central exhaust.

The new Focus ST still has big bumpers, a big spoiler, big wheels and big exhausts but they’re better integrated, looking less stuck-on than the previous car’s bodykit did. Only those who know will recognise it as the fast Focus. Which is also a cool thing.

But enough of aesthetics. What’s under the bonnet?

Quite a lot, actually.

A 2.3-litre, four-cylinder turbo EcoBoost engine – similar to that in the Mustang and the old Focus RS – serves up a meaty 276bhp and 310lb/ft of torque. It drives the front wheels through a six-speed manual gearbox or a seven-speed dual-clutcher, and an electronic limited-slip differential.

Ford claims the motor is the most free-revving yet fitted to a Focus ST. There’s an anti-lag system that keeps the turbo spinning at low engine speeds, improving responsiveness. And, if you tick the Performance Pack option, the manual car rev matches on downshifts.

Ford hasn’t released performance figures for the EcoBoost ST estate yet, but claims the hatchback will sprint from 0-60mph in under six seconds. Expect the estate to be a few tenths slower. In both cases, top speed will be on the far side of 150mph, possibly limited to 155mph.

If you prefer diesel, there’s also a 2.0 EcoBlue ST, which produces 187bhp and 295lb/ft of torque. It’s only available as a manual and has torque vectoring instead of an eLSD. Again, Ford hasn’t released economy numbers, but expect it to return over 50mpg on the combined cycle.

Whichever engine you choose, the Focus ST comes with selectable drive modes for the first time – Slippery/Wet, Normal and Sport. Performance Pack-equipped cars also get a Track mode.

Continuously controlled damping aims to improve both ride and road-holding, as well.

Standard kit includes Recaro seats up front, a heated sports steering wheel, reversing camera, Bang & Olufsen stereo, adaptive cruise control and an amplifier that increases engine and exhaust in the cabin in Sport and Track modes.

The price for all this? £33,095 for the EcoBoost ST estate, £30,595 for the EcoBlue version. The hatchback equivalents are £31,995 and £29,495, respectively.

That might sound like a lot, but the Focus ST comes generously equipped compared to its rivals. And everyone buys on PCP these days, anyway, so the list price doesn’t actually matter that much.

Whatever, the Focus ST will be giving its rivals some sleepless nights.

By Graham King