Available on petrol variants of both the standard car and the estate, the automatic option arrives in addition to the existing six-speed manual gearbox, and is said to open “the Ford ST experience to new customers”.
A rotary gear selector is installed in place of the conventional gearstick, while paddles behind the steering wheel can be used to manually shift. The Sport button and Drive Mode selector function are carried over from the manual car.
Ford claims that the ‘Adaptive Shift Scheduling’ functionality of the new gearbox optimises performance for road or track, altering gearshift timings to suit different driving styles.
The auto ’box nonetheless brings a slight performance penalty, adding 0.3sec to the 0-62mph time for both bodystyles - 6.0sec for the hatch and 6.1sec for the estate - but fuel consumption is unaffected, with both cars claiming an unchanged 34.4mpg on the WLTP cycle.
The 2.3-litre turbocharged four-cylinder Ecoboost unit remains the same, too, sending 276bhp and 310lb ft to the front wheels for an electronically limited top speed of 155mph.
Automatic cars command a £1450 premium over their manual counterparts, with prices for the hatch starting from £34,710 and £34,660 for the estate. Customer deliveries are set to get under way in July, with Ford’s UK dealerships now back open for business with social distancing measures in place.