Ford Focus ST Estate: Driving on snow

  • Wintery conditions fail to halt ST’s progress
  • Fuel consumption barely makes it to 30mpg
  • Handling proving lively and fun

Winter is never the greatest time for owning a high performance car but the Ford Focus ST Estate has been shrugging off the icy blast.

Snow is always going to prove the hardest obstacle to overcome when you have a high powered engine with lots of torque being churned out through fat, low profile tyres.

The one saving grace is that the ST is front-wheel drive so has the weight of the engine pushing down on the wheels to help gain traction.

Treating the throttle with a huge dollop of respect and being as light and smooth as possible on all other controls, the ST tackles the packed-snow roads with little drama. Short shifting and keeping the revs low without stalling certainly helps get the car moving and prevent wheelspin.

The feedback through the steering wheel while never fantastic was good enough to tell me when the tyres were finding grip and more importantly, when more slippery conditions were under the tyres.

Another aspect of winter driving that is all too visible, or should that be not visible, is grimy and grubby windscreens. Obviously, using the wipers and washers helps but when the washer fluid runs out then it's time to top up.

The ST has a neat trick in that when you pop the bonnet catch there is a good sized and well placed release lever. This saves fishing under the bonnet for an age, getting increasing grubby hands in the process while desperately searching for a small lever to pull or push to fully release the bonnet.

The only downside with winter driving in the ST has been a slight reluctance to engage reverse gear in particularly cold temperatures. It’s a case of try to slot the gear home, release, clutch down again and then try again - it usually works the second time.

None of the ST forums report any issues with reverse gear so I can only assume it is a temporary mechanical aberration.  

When the roads are dry and the temperature is the sunny side of zero degrees Celsius the ST continues to prove a really engaging drive. The torque steer mentioned by other members of staff is never unruly and I think makes driving the ST all the more fun.

The downside is that fuel consumption is struggling to get the wallet-saving side of 30mpg with the car managing just over 300 miles to a tank.

More restraint with the right foot will help as will avoiding using the heater so hard and often in the freezing weather. Spring can’t come soon enough.

Focus ST Estate Wheel

Low profile sports tyres still get bite into pack snow and ice

Ford Focus ST Estate bonnet catch

Bonnet catch is easy to find - makes accessing engine bay easy

Total mileage: 8,752 miles

Average mpg: 29.8mpg