Lange termijn test 3 – Ford Focus ST Mk4 wagon vs klassieker de Transit Supervan

Onze tijd met de  Ford Focus ST Mk4 Estate loopt op z’n einde en het is niet overdreven om te zeggen dat we nu al weten dat hij erg gemist zal worden als we hem moeten laten gaan. We kozen ervoor om met deze auto te rijden omdat we wilden zien of hij met succes en capaciteiten van een grote gezinsauto kon combineren met die van een hete hatchback – en hij heeft op beide punten gescoord.

Ford Focus ST Mk4 Estate meets Ford Transit Supervan

Het vonnis

De korte ontmoeting met een echte Ford-klassieker bewijst alleen maar wat een geweldige allrounder onze Focus ST Estate is. Het is serieus snel, toch praktisch en comfortabel genoeg om het dagelijks leven aan te kunnen. We zullen hem missen.

Ford Focus ST Mk4 Estate meets Ford Transit Supervan

Het volledige & officieel artikel lezen kan hieronder in het Engels:

Third report: our rapid load-lugging Ford Focus ST Mk4 Estate meets a Transit with a difference


Its brief encounter with a real Ford classic only proves what a great all-rounder our Focus ST Estate is. It’s seriously fast, yet practical and comfortable enough to cope with everyday life. We’ll miss it when it goes.

Time is nearly up for our Ford Focus ST Estate – and it’s no overstatement to say that we already know it’s going to be badly missed when it goes. We chose to run this car because we wanted to see if it could successfully marry the abilities of a large family car with those of a hot hatchback – and it has delivered in spades, on both counts.

Ford Focus ST Mk4 Estate meets Ford Transit Supervan

As a celebration of that mix of speed and practicality, and because it sounded like huge fun, we decided to introduce the ST to a much older fast Ford ‘load-lugger’ (in the spiritual sense, at least). And that’s how we ended up at a windswept airfield near Peterborough, days before the UK’s lockdown, driving our Focus alongside one of the legends of Ford’s heritage fleet: Supervan 3.

The first edition of this rapid Transit was introduced in 1971 as a promotional tool, with a Mk1 Transit body strapped to a GT40 Le Mans racer chassis. With a claimed top speed of 150mph, it certainly grabbed headlines when it made its public appearances.

Ford Focus ST Mk4 Estate meets Ford Transit Supervan

Time caught up with the van, though, and by the end of the decade it was out of kilter with Ford’s existing Transit range. So the original Supervan was retired – to where, nobody’s really sure, because it vanished at some point in the eighties, perhaps to be ripped apart in search of GT40 bits.

Ford Focus ST Mk4 Estate meets Ford Transit Supervan

Supervan 2 arrived in 1984, supported by the underpinnings of Ford’s ill-fated Le Mans car project, the C100, and with a V8 engine producing 590bhp. This vehicle then morphed into Supervan 3, superhero-style, to reflect changes to the Transit’s styling.

It has since dumped the high-maintenance motorsport engine for a supercharged 2.9-litre V6 Cosworth unit producing 295bhp and 384Nm of torque. It’s still good for 150mph and it looks a million dollars in vintage Ford Motorsport livery, with its ultra-low side skirts and deep front splitter.

Ford Focus ST Mk4 Estate meets Ford Transit Supervan

In case you think this whole idea is a mismatch, our Focus’s performance figures aren’t a million miles away from those of Supervan 3. Its 2.3-litre four-cylinder turbo engine makes 276bhp and has 420Nm of torque. It’ll even trump the van’s top speed, at 155mph. And while it lacks the promo vehicle’s stripes, our orange paintwork is bright, even on a dull morning.

Ford Focus ST Estate Long term review – part two

Our car is ready and waiting for its moment in the lens (I’ve kept the engine running to hide from a biting wind) but even so, the moment Ford technician Ivan Bartholomeusz fires up Supervan 3, it’s clear which is the alpha vehicle here. The straight exhaust of the 2.9-litre motor is painful if you’re anywhere within six feet of it.

Ford Focus ST Mk4 Estate meets Ford Transit Supervan

More surprising is how this volume doesn’t even die away as Supervan follows me down the runway. With snapper Otis Clay grabbing some low-down tracking shots, the noise coming from behind the ST is quite extraordinary, even at the reduced speeds required for this type of photography and with plenty of road rumble from the Focus’s tyres on a hard concrete surface.

Ford Focus ST Mk4 Estate meets Ford Transit Supervan

This makes me realise, in fact, that there is one area of the Focus where I reckon it could try harder: noise. There’s a Track mode, I know, which turns up the volume of the synthesised exhaust note coming into the cabin very effectively. But this is a vehicle with rally car-style anti-lag systems, and I reckon that in the most extreme setting – by which point it’s safe to assume you’ve unloaded those boxes of antique china from the boot, and are ready for some thrills – it ought to pop, bang and crackle just a little bit more.

Ford Focus ST Mk4 Estate meets a Ford Transit Supervan

To round the shoot off, Bartholomeusz gives me a passenger run in Supervan down the same stretch of runway. And this is when I realise how many compromises have been made to make Supervan possible at all. The fibreglass bodywork is made to scale, and the cabin has been downsized to the point where anyone of my height (and girth) struggles to get aboard at all. The steering wheel is massively offset. And the noise is deafening. I love a motorsport engine note, but a couple of times during the run, I find myself gesturing to Ivan to ease off just a little, for the sake of my eardrums.

It’s fabulous fun, of course – and it’s great to have given Ford a reason to get one of its veterans moving again. But as I climb back into the ST, I’m comforted by the heated seats and steering wheel, the relative calm of the car’s normal driving mode and the well judged damping over Britain’s roads.

Ford Focus ST Mk4 Estate meets Ford Transit Supervan

Then there’s the knowledge that were I to feel the need to pop into IKEA on the way home to buy a wardrobe, I could. Whereas Supervan, for all its Transit connections, has zero usable load space at all. And that makes the ST estate the king among Ford load-luggers, in my book.

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