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Buy a new Ford Focus ST-Line or get a used Skoda RS 162TSI wagon?

By Alex Rae, 02 Jul 2019 Advice

Buy a new Ford Focus ST-Line or get a used Skoda RS 162TSI wagon?

Ford’s humble warm wagon goes up against the hot Czech load-lugger

Ford’s new Focus ST-Line wagon is perhaps the greatest achiever in the new Focus line-up right now - though we can’t wait to get our hands on the upcoming ST.

It gets a more sophisticated suspension setup over the hatches (except the new Active) and brings with it a cavernous boot and wagon styling. But for comparative money, a used Skoda Octavia RS can be had. Questions is, which would we buy?

2019 FORD FOCUS ST-LINE WAGON

Ford Australia has never hit a home run with its Focus, ceding sales to the Toyota Corolla, Hyundai i30 and Mazda3. That’s a pity, because it's a good performer and now offers something those can’t - a wagon bum.

The latest-generation Focus was introduced here late-2018 and brings the first ST-Line badged wagon to Australia. A hotter ST is coming but is only confirmed in hatchback guise, so this is the hottest wagon in the line-up for the foreseeable future. And priced at $30,900 it jumps off the page with value.

Under the bonnet is a 1497cc three-cylinder turbo engine, the same unit found in the new Fiesta ST. It’s a little less wild, producing an output of 134kW at 6000rpm and 240Nm at 1750-5000rpm. That’ll send it from 0-100km/h in 8.2sec (as tested by Wheels) and there could be good tuning potential given the Fiesta ST relationship.

Grunt goes through an eight-speed automatic transmission - a slick shifting unit - and helps fuel efficiency achieve a claimed 7.5L/100km on the government combined cycle. The only gripe is the selector knob looks a bit fuddy. In fact, the cabin as a whole isn’t terribly sophisticated, and there are swathes of boring black plastics around the interior. Gaining attention is a crisp 8.0-inch touchscreen with Apple Carplay and Android Auto connectivity and comfortable fabric seats with some light side bolstering. Being a wagon, the boot is large and practical, offering 575L or 1653L with the rear-seats folded.

Standard under the arches are 17-inch wheels that help cushion compliance, though 18-inch alloys are available and the ST-Line’s multi-link rear suspension setup, that the torsion beam hatch doesn’t get, helps improve ride comfort as well as dynamic ability.

Having a squirt, the engine feels vibrant above 2500rpm with a throaty three-pot rumble and mid-range pull. Power is good enough to have some fun but it’s short of the Skoda’s hot hatch punch.

Through bends, the body is well controlled and fairly flat-footed and the blend of performance doesn’t have the tugging torque steer of some warm front-wheelers, but the nose can be a touch wooly and the steering feel detached.

2015 SKODA OCTAVIA RS 162TSI WAGON

This is the ultimate Czech cult car, the hot hatch of wagons. Equipped with many of the components found in Volskwagen’s hot Golf GTI, the Octavia RS uses the same EA888 2.0-litre four-pot turbo to produce 169kW at 6200rpm and 350Nm at 1500-4600rpm. As ubiquitous an engine the VW mill is, tuning options are vast, and fairly affordable, so a used example nearing the end of its factory warranty is a top option for many petrol heads.

For enthusiasts, there’s further incentive to opt for the Skoda, with the RS available with either a six-speed DSG auto or manual (you can’t get the latter in the Focus). And it’ll smoke the ST-Line at the traffic light grand prix, with a claimed 0-100km/h time of 6.9s and 7.2s for the manual and auto respectively.

While the interior is a little dated, it holds up to the Focus with a CarPlay/Auto compatible infotainment and sporty trim elements adding drama and visual excitement over the Ford. The boot is also a little larger at 588L, and there’s Skoda smarts throughout the cabin such as a cargo net and divider shelves.

It might look like a slam dunk for the Skoda given its performance and packaging advantages, but keep in mind that used examples will be around three to four years old and staring down the end of their warranty (five years, unlimited km when new). Servicing costs are also higher, and the Ford comes with a five-year, unlimited km warranty and cheap fixed-price servicing. 

So, let the stoush begin.


Specs comparison 

 

 

2019 Ford Focus ST-Line wagon

2015 Skoda Octavia RS wagon

Price (new)

$30,990

$39,090 (manual)

Engine

1.5-litre turbo 3cyl

2.0-litre turbo 4cyl

Output

134kW/240Nm

162kW/350Nm

Transmission

8-speed automatic

6-speed manual

0-100km/h

8.2 seconds (tested)

6.9 seconds (claimed)

Efficiency (combined)

6.4L/100km

6.4L/100km

Drivetrain

FWD

FWD

Doors

5

5

Seats

5

5

Wheel size

215/50R17

225/40R18

Boot size

575L

588L

Country of origin

Germany

Czech Republic

 


Wheels staff picks


Trent Giunco
Staff Journalist
There’s something so appealing about pragmatic performance. Combine that with the fact the Skoda Octavia RS 162TSI wagon scores high in terms of bang for your bucks and it starts to tick a lot of boxes. In reality, the RS gets close to being that elusive car that does it all. A manual with low kays is the booted Golf GTI for the family, but a DSG with warranty left over is also a good buy. The esteemed EA888 2.0-litre is powerful at 162kW (hence that name, get it?), but also relatively frugal given the performance on offer. And as attractive as the new Focus ST wagon’s styling is, you’ll never feel quite as individual in it as you will in the ‘quirky’ Skoda.

Alex Rae
Online Editor
I’m outnumbered at the family Christmas table when the discussion of SUVs come up - I always lob into the debate that a wagon is usually the better buy, especially hot estates like the RS. Even brand new, the Skoda Octavia offers great bang for your buck and that’s where I’d be looking if I wanted one. Stoop up the extra dough and get an Octavia with five-years warranty, capped-price servicing and the latest tech-laden cabin. Otherwise, at this $30k price-point, the Focus ST-Line is cracking value as a flexible, entertaining wagon with set-and-forget aftersales support that will appease a pragmatic mindset. But if you’re a performance buff you’re still not looking past the GTI-engined RS, are you?

Cameron Kirby
Staff Journalist
While the new Focus ST-Line is a good thing, and those locked to the idea of a brand-new car should definitely be putting it on their shopping list, it can’t match the real-world usability and speed of the Skoda for me. Skoda’s RS 162TSI wagon is a genuine hot-hatch killer, with serious practical ability. With an ever-growing Greyhound as part of my family, the larger boot of the Octavia makes it the more practical choice, while its VW-supplied powertrain is a gutsy unit. If the budget allows, I’d be booking in a visit to the tuning powerhouse APR for them to work their magic as well. Long may the performance wagon live on.

 

Reckon we’ve got it right? Or are we way off the money (literally)? Find your best and let us know in the comments what you’d buy.