5 July 2004

The sporty profile of the three-door Ford Focus, which will underpin hot ST and RS performance models, has been scooped for the first time by Autocar. With new sheetmetal from the A-pillar backwards, Ford Europe design chief Chris Bird has penned an arcing rear roofline that incorporates a prominent roof spoiler to smooth the airflow over the steeply raked rear window.

Bird’s design cleverly gives the three- and five-door bodystyles a distinct look, even though they use the same rear hatch pressing, a technique commonly employed to keep tooling costs down.

The rakish three-door will be a strong basis for new, sportier ST and RS models. The ST model, due in December 2005, will supersede the limp-wristed ST170 with a car powered by the same turbocharged 212bhp 2.0-litre powertrain as the much-loved Focus RS. Drive will be to the front wheels only and a five-door version will be offered, too. It should finally give the ST a real chance of challenging Renault’s Mégane 225 and Honda’s Civic Type-R. It was a profitable outing for Autocar’s spy photographers – they also caught prototypes of both five-door and estate body styles testing. First to be launched are the two hatches, which will be revealed at September’s Paris show.

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Both hatchbacks arrive in UK dealers next January with a choice of five engines: 100bhp 1.6, 115bhp 1.8 and 135bhp 2.0 petrols, and 110bhp 1.6 and 135bhp 2.0 diesels. The latter diesel, codenamed DW10, is jointly developed with Peugeot-Citröen and replaces today’s TDCi unit.

The four-door and estate models will be launched in spring 2005, probably after a Geneva show reveal, when the 80bhp 1.4 entry-level Focus will be shown. Each of the new Focus family shares the hatchback’s 2640mm wheelbase and employs a longer rear overhang to boost carrying capacity.

Because the new Focus grows in size, the estate is expected to offer more luggage space than today’s load-lugger.

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