2019 Ford Focus ST-Line Wagon Review
Isaac Bober’s 2019 Ford Focus ST-Line Wagon Review with Price, Specs, Performance, Ride and Handling, Infotainment, Ownership, Safety, Verdict and Score.
In a nutshell: The same delicious ride and handling of the ST-Line hatch in a more practical wagon body.
2019 Ford Focus ST-Line Specifications
Price from $30,990+ORCs Warranty five-years, unlimited kilometres Service Intervals 12 months/15,000km Safety five-star ANCAP Engine 1.5-litre three-cylinder turbocharged petrol Power 134kW at 6000rpm Torque 240Nm at 1750-5000rpm Transmission eight-speed automatic Dimensions 4668mm long, 1979mm wide (inc. mirrors), 1481mm high, 2700mm wheelbase Turning Circle 10.6m Boot Space 375L Weight 1388kg GVM 1980kg Spare space saver Fuel Tank 52L Thirst 6.4L/100km claimed combined
The fourth-generation Ford Focus has proved a revelation and a real return to the high points of Ford’s engineers being able to tweak their shopping trolley models to be the best driving cars in their segments. And it’s been a welcome return to form given that the last two generations haven’t been up to the first-generation Focus’ high standards (ST and RS variants aside, of course).
Here at Practical Motoring we’ve spent plenty of time in this new-generation Focus, having driven both the Trend and ST-Line hatch. Now we’re in the ST-Line Wagon to see if it might just be the most practical and affordable warmed-up wagon you can buy. And don’t forget, the ST-Line Wagon, unlike the hatchback, gets a more sophisticated multi-link rear-end. Let’s find out if the ST-Line Wagon is a step-up compared to the hatchback.
What’s the price and what do you get?
We’ve dealt with the comparative pricing of the Focus ST-Line in our review of the hatchback so we won’t go back over that ground here, although there are a couple of competitors to the ST-Line Wagon. Suffice it to say that pound for pound the Focus ST-Line is either priced the same as or cheaper than its key rivals. The ST-Line Wagon is priced at $30,990+ORCs; the ST-Line hatchback is priced at $28,990+ORCs.
The ST-Line Wagon lines up against competitors like the Holden Astra Sportwagon LT $29,940+ORC although this vehicle isn’t as sporting as the Ford, and the Renault Megane GT Wagon is priced at $39,990+ORCs. And even the diesel 308 Wagon is priced at $37,990+ORCs and, as a driver’s car, isn’t on the same page as the Focus. The Golf R AWD Wagon is priced from $59,190+ORCs but the Focus ST Wagon when it arrives next year will be the one to take that thing on – but, unfortunately, it won’t come to Australia, so, we’ll miss out on that particular stoush.
Across the Focus range there’s only one engine available and that is a 1.5-litre turbocharged three-cylinder petrol engine mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission. In terms of features, you get rain-sensing wipers, and dusk-sensing headlights, an active grille, auto stop-start, auto up and down on all windows, selectable drive modes (which tweak the throttle and transmission), cruise control, dual-zone climate control, 8.0-inch infotainment screen, native sat-nav, autonomous emergency braking, reversing camera, intelligent speed assist, and more. And then you get the ST-Line body kit and unique grille, 17-inch alloys (the Design pack changes these to 18-inch alloys), sport suspension with a 10mm lower ride height, folding, heated side mirrors, wireless phone charging pad, and the ST-Line Wagon gets a multi-link rear end where the rest of the line-up is torsion beam only.
What’s the cabin like?
This latest-generation Focus sees the gear shifter replaced by a rotary-style controller and an electric handbrake fitted. And this has freed up a lot of room on the inside of the Focus making it feel very roomy and spacious. Despite the fact the interior is very black and so may be seen by some as a little boring, the quality of the plastics used is excellent with soft-touch fine-grained plastics just about everywhere in the cabin. Personally, I like the black interior, for me there are enough surface changes on the dashboard and contrast trim panels to keep it interesting.
And the felt lined bottle holders in the door bins (to stop them from rattling) is the sort of nice touch you normally only find on Volkswagens. The hard plastic that is used is tucked out of the way in areas where you want stronger, harder wearing stuff used. The ST-Line adds things like grippier front seats and a chunky, flat-bottomed steering wheel, contrast stitching and ST-Line badging.
What are the infotainment and controls like?
Where many car makers are trying to cut back on the number of physical buttons and dials in the cabin to declutter it and move everything to a virtual environment, Ford has stuck with manual adjustments. And I applaud this, there’s nothing worse than trying to adjust the temperature on a vehicle and having to do it via a touchscreen while you’re driving on the highway…or trying to work out how to change where the air is blowing (feet, body, face or windscreen).
Ford’s climate control adjustment layout is easily the best and simplest you’ll find on any car in the world. Yep, big call. It’s easy to see what’s what at a glance and adjusting everything from the temperature to the airflow is a cinch, even when moving. The same goes for other controls, like the adaptive cruise control or intelligent speed limiter; everything’s designed to be activated within one or two touches. Similarly, all the displays are crisp and clear and don’t take your eyes away from the road.
The infotainment screen is an 8.0-inch unit with Apple and Android connectivity as well as native sat-nav and it’s one of the better smartphone integrations on the market. The graphics are clear, the screen is unaffected by glare and the touchscreen doesn’t require a million stabs at the screen. The voice control functionality works well too. While there are some physical shortcut buttons there’s no physical home button (it’s a virtual home button only) and having this would be nice. The wireless phone charger works well too, there are two USB ports and the vehicle can act as a WiFi hotspot.
What are the front seats like?
The ST-Line Focus brings grippier front seats with contrast stitching. There’s good adjustment on them (manual only on both driver and passenger seat) and there’s enough length in the seatbase that those with long legs will feel comfortable on longer drivers. The steering wheel offers reach and height adjustment and the driving position is excellent.
What are the back seats like?
The ST-Line Wagon has the same wheelbase as the hatchback (2700mm) so it doesn’t liberate any extra legroom but it doesn’t need it. There’s more than enough room for a couple of adults to sit across the back comfortably (the middle seat is more of a perch) with good foot, leg and headroom. There are no rear air vents and no vents underneath the front seats that I could see, but the front vents are well placed to ensure warm or cool air makes it into around the cabin quickly and efficiently. There are ISOFIX mounts for the outboard seats and top tether anchor points for all three seats.
What is the boot space like?
The hatchback offers 375 litres of storage space with the back seats up while the ST-Line Wagon offers 608 litres and 1653 litres of storage with the back seats folded down. A six-footer will be able to stand under the tailgate when it’s raised and there’s a space-saver spare tyre underneath the boot floor. The boot floor as you can see below is layered, meaning you can store, say, wet items below the main floor in shallow compartments. And the felt-covered floor concertinas out of the way.
What’s the performance like?
Under the bonnet is the same 1.5-litre turbocharged three-cylinder engine as the rest of the range (in this country, anyway) and it makes 134kW at 6000rpm and 240Nm of torque from 1750-5000rpm which is an impressive spread of torque, I’m sure you’ll agree. The engine is mated to an eight-speed automatic.
From just off idle right through to peak power being delivered at 6000rpm the engine is smooth and willing. But, such is the torque on offer across such a broad spread you’ll hardly ever find yourself revving it right out. And it’s this torque that gives the Focus ST-Line such a sense of purpose when you’re driving it. It doesn’t feel rocket-ship quick but it feels strong in every situation with solid horizon-reeling acceleration to satisfy all drivers.
Some have complained about the three-cylinder beat but I like it but, so well insulated from road and engine noise is the Focus that you’ll almost never even hear the engine anyway. And that’s a shame; can’t believe I’m saying it but a little bit of piped-in engine noise on this Focus ST-Line would make the thing feel a little more special.
If you’ve read my ST-Line hatchback review you’ll remember I mentioned the gear shift was a little clumsy moving from, say, Park to Drive. And by that I mean it would hesitate on the transition and the car would roll momentarily. That was clearly an issue limited to that car because this wagon didn’t have any issue with the transmission which is possibly the best transmission on any small car.
What’s the ride and handling like?
These days small cars are so well behaved that poor ride and handling is almost a thing of the past. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t still vehicles that can truly surprise and impress…enter this Ford Focus ST-Line Wagon. We were impressed with the hatchback and how well Ford’s engineers had tuned it but this Wagon with its multi-link rear end is a step up again. The ST-Line hatch and wagon sit 10mm lower than the regular Focus and get tweaked damper settings.
It’s possible to go so far as to suggest the Focus and more so this Ford Focus ST-Line Wagon set the dynamic benchmark in the segment. And that’s ahead of the lilkes of the locally tuned Hyundai i30 N-Line and even the new Mazda3.
The ride is frim but not overly, to the point where you probably won’t notice it at first, if that makes sense, and such is the damping that both big and small bumps and holes are dealt with competently and comfortably. There’s no suspension noise, no bumping off things on the road, no harshness and no disconnect between the front and rear. Sometimes you can get one end of a car feeling softer than the other, and that’s what I mean when I say you almost don’t notice the ride; it’s just so darn good.
Body roll is incredibly well contained too and even quick changes in direction, say, cornering on a tight road, don’t upset the Focus. The steering feels well weighted and direct but not darty and while there’s not an awful lot of communication through the wheel, the weighting is good and pressure builds nicely through corners. It’s also light enough to make driving around town and parking relaxed and there’s good straight-ahead stability on the highway. That said, stand on the throttle with a touch of lock on and you’ll get a little bit of torque steer nibbling at the wheel but it doesn’t upset the vehicle’s balance or precision.
Compared with the hatchback the wagon with it’s different rear-end set-up feels just that little bit sharper and better balanced when cornering with greater mid-corner adjustability. Indeed, it’s probably the ‘warmest’ of all the small warm hatchback/wagons on the market.
Does it have a spare wheel?
Yes, a space saver underneath the boot floor.
Can you tow with it?
Yes, up to 1200kg braked but it’s a small car, so, if you really need a car that can tow, maybe you’d be better off with something bigger.
What about ownership costs?
The Focus is covered by Ford’s five-year unlimited kilometre warranty with servicing for those first five years capped at $299 per service. Those owners who take up Ford’s Service Price Promise will also be able to access a loan car and tyre-price promise. Servicing is 12 months or 15,000km.
What safety features does it get?
Standard across the range is autonomous emergency braking, with pedestrian and cyclist detection, lane keeping assist with lane departure warning, rear parking sensors with a 180-degree wide-angle reversing camera, hill hold assist, adjustable speed limiter, post-impact braking to stop you from ricocheting into another vehicle, emergency assistance, six airbags for the front and back, and a five-star ANCAP rating.
One feature we’re big fans of is the Intelligent Speed Assist which works in with the speed sign recognition and, once set, will do its best to keep you from exceeding the posted speed limit.