An all-new Focus ST range, which includes an estate version for the first time, has been launched on the eve of the Frankfurt motor show.
Both versions of the Focus ST will go on sale in 2012, although no on sale dates or prices have been revealed.
The Focus ST is the first car developed by Ford’s Global Performance Vehicles group, headed by Jost Capito, the man responsible for the most recent Focus RS.
The Focus ST has made it into production virtually unchanged from the concept seen at last year’s Paris show. It is set to be sold in more than 40 countries on six continents.
The ST gets a substantially more aggressive look than its more humble siblings, including a large trapezoidal grille, a single centre-mounted rear exhaust, an eye-catching Tangerine Scream exterior colour, side skirts, a rear spoiler and a bolder new rear bumper with integrated diffuser. Inside, ST Focuses get Recaro front seats and a new bench in the rear. The pedals, steering wheel and gearlever are also new, and there is a special headlining.
Power comes from a turbocharged 2.0-litre, four-cylinder engine with 247bhp and 265lb ft, but Ford has yet to confirm performance figures. However, Ford promises a 20 per cent boost in fuel economy over the previous Focus ST’s 2.5-litre, five-cylinder engine, along with lower CO2 emissions. A tall sixth ratio for its six-speed manual ’box helps.
Dynamic features include a new variable-ratio steering rack and an electronic Torque Steer Compensation system that works in conjunction with the electric power steering.
The stability control system has three selectable modes that alter the level of its intervention, including a setting that switches it off altogether. Other features include Enhanced Torque Vectoring Control and Cornering Under Steer Control systems, which work together to reduce understeer.
The Focus ST sits 10mm lower than standard Focuses thanks to new dampers and springs. The rear suspension of ST models also has uprated knuckles compared with standard cars and new anti-roll bars.
All STs ride on 18in alloy wheels that feature an evolution of the previous ST’s Y-shaped spokes. These are wrapped in 235/40 R18 Goodyear Eagle F1 Asymmetric 2 tyres, which will be sold as standard on STs everywhere in the world.
Ford says the chance to launch a five-door estate version of the ST in Europe was “irresistible”. It is identical to the standard hatchback, with only the angle of the rear dampers adjusted to maintain its optimum luggage capacity.
“There’s nothing comparable in the market to the Focus ST wagon,” said Capito. “We have high hopes for it to be a success.”
The company remains adamant that it won’t produce a three-door version, however.
A Focus Zetec S has already been confirmed for UK showrooms before the end of 2011. It will be powered by the same 178bhp 1.6-litre turbocharged engine that features in the Fiesta ST, which is also starring at Frankfurt – albeit in concept form. According to a Ford spokesperson, “while the Fiesta looks a little down-on-power next to the Renault Clio 200, it’s very light so its power-to-weight ratio will be very competitive.”