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LA show: Ford reveals five-door Fiesta hot hatch

Sporty little number: Ford will display a five-door version of its Fiesta ST hot hatch concept at the LA Auto Show later this month.

Ford unveils five-door concept version of its hot VW Polo GTI-fighting Fiesta ST

Ford logo8 Nov 2011

By MIKE COSTELLO

FORD has revealed a five-door version of the forthcoming Fiesta ST hot hatch ahead of its public debut at the LA motor show later this month – just two months after it displayed a three-door version of the same car at the Frankfurt show in September.

The Blue Oval will also use the LA show to display a stripped-out racing version of its new Focus ST – dubbed ST-R – which it says will eventually be made available to track day enthusiasts, at least in the US.

While technically still a concept, the Blue Oval is certain to put the Fiesta ST pocket rocket into production alongside the larger Focus ST, which Ford Australia has confirmed will arrive here from next year.

Ford vice-president of global product development Derrick Kuzak said: “The Fiesta has a rich history of high-performance models so a new ST performance model is a logical next step in our performance vehicle strategy for our global small cars.”

Ford Australia product communications manager for passenger vehicles Justin Lacy told GoAuto today it is too early to say if the Fiesta ST will be sold here, since it has not yet been officially included in the global production schedule.

However, it seems likely that Ford will consider both versions if they are available to give it a legitimate rival to the Volkswagen Polo GTI, which has proven popular here despite being beset by lengthy waiting lists.

27 center imageFrom top: Ford Fiesta ST five-door concept, Ford Focus ST-R, Ford Focus ST and Ford Fiesta ST three-door concept.

Like its three-door sibling, the latest Fiesta ST concept is powered by a turbocharged, direct-injection 1.6-litre engine producing 134kW of power and 240Nm of torque, matched exclusively (for now) to a six-speed manual transmission.

While Ford has not released performance figures for the five-door version, the company claims the three-door ST can dash to 100km/h in less than seven seconds – more than three seconds faster than the current fastest Fiesta available in Australia, the 1.6-litre Zetec.

Top speed of the three-door model is a claimed 220km/h and is said to deliver on its target of fewer than 140 grams of carbon dioxide emissions per kilometre travelled.

The five-door’s seemingly production-ready styling draws inspiration from competition Fiestas such as the World Rally Championship race car and shares its large honeycomb-patterned, trapezoid-shaped grille with the Focus ST.

An aggressive rear diffuser design enveloping twin exhausts further differentiates the car from its more humble Fiesta siblings, while its 17-inch alloys and full body kit are the same as those found on the three-door.

Judging by the 12-month gestation period for the Focus ST, from its unveiling in concept form at the Paris motor show last year and production launch in Frankfurt in September this year, the production Fiesta ST could be expected at next year’s Paris show before being rolled out in 2013.

According to the director of Ford Global Performance Vehicles, Jost Capito, the suspension geometry on the ST concept has been tuned to deliver performance and handling in line with that of the Focus ST.

“With the Focus ST, we promised to deliver uncompromised sports performance and styling to a truly global audience for the first time without sacrificing Ford’s key values of quality, green, safe and smart,” he said.

“The Fiesta ST Concept shows in the most dramatic way possible that the qualities that define an ST are not limited to one model. The potential for delivering the ST experience to an even wider audience is laid bare by this exciting new concept.”

Ford Australia is likely to launch the 184kW/360Nm Focus ST – the replacement for the 169kW five-cylinder turbo XR5 of the previous generation – in the second half of next year.

The car will face formidable competition from the likes of Volkswagen’s Golf GTI and R variants, as well as the Renault Sport Megane RS250 and Mazda3 MPS.

Earlier this week, Opel unveiled its brutal 206kW/400Nm Astra OPC coupe, which is a strong chance to arrive in Australia around mid-2013 as part of the second wave of releases from General Motors’ German brand after it launches here late next year.

While the Focus ST will sit at the head of Ford’s global small car range, the brand has confirmed that its stand at the forthcoming LA Auto Show will feature a competition-ready race car based on the ST called the ST-R.

The purpose-built racer – which first appeared at the Frankfurt show in September – has uprated brakes, track-tuned brakes and an FIA-approved roll cage, but uses stock body panels and many production parts from the Focus ST road car.

Ford said the ST-R will soon be available to North American race teams and should compete in a variety of international series, as well as the Nurburgring 24 Hour race in Germany.

Director of Ford Racing Jamie Allison said people who buy this car will get a “fully prepared race car that will only need communications equipment and the customer’s decals to go racing”.

He said Ford Racing has already had significant interest in the ST-R from established race teams.

It is the latest in a line of ‘turnkey’ race cars Ford has offered, including the Mustang FR500C, Mustang FR500S, Mustang Cobra Jet, Boss 302R and Boss 302S, and should also allow a range of Ford Racing parts becoming available to racers and enthusiasts.

The racing ST-R is the latest step in the Blue Oval’s plan to support motorsport developments of its core vehicle platforms, which has already borne fruit in the form of the Fiesta RallyCross, X Games and WRC rally vehicles.

Last week saw numerous wild customised Focus and Fiesta vehicles on display at the SEMA aftermarket show in Las Vegas, including the supercharged Roush Focus and the Cobb Tuning racing Fiesta.

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