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.

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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