The first hot new Ford Focus has broken cover. Out-powering the last-generation Focus RS, the new Focus ST is revealed in these first official pictures, and is set for a showdown with the new VW Golf GTi and Vauxhall’s 197bhp Astra SRi five-door later this year.
Prior to that, this enthusiast’s Focus will be one of the stars of the Geneva Motor Show, where its plunging bumpers, jutting sills, bespoke interior and 18in alloy wheels will be displayed to the public for the first time. ‘When performance enthusiasts see this car, they are going to have high expectations,’ said Jost Capito, boss of Ford’s performance division, TeamRS. ‘The Focus ST is going to live up to them. Every functional attribute is being engineered to deliver on that expectation.’
If it delivers, the ST will be like no fast Ford before, thanks to its unlikely powerplant. Hot hatch aficionados will doubtless approve of its chassis, which has been honed at Germany’s Nürburgring circuit, and the more sporting looks. The ST will also offer 217bhp – eclipsing the Focus RS by 5bhp. But the source of that power has come from an unlikely origin – Volvo.
The engine is the same 2521cc five-cylinder turbo petrol engine found in Volvo’s S40 and V50 T5. TeamRS’s challenge will be to endow the inline five with a character to appeal to hot hatch buyers used to fast-revving four-cylinder engines. The Focus ST’s chassis is still under development; it will need to be significantly stiffer than the standard car’s to keep the additional nose weight under control, as well as to effectively put 217bhp to use. However, Autocar’s sources suggest that the Focus ST is already lapping the Nürburgring faster than the 212bhp Focus RS, and if that’s the case development must be well advanced.