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First Look: Ford's hot new Focus ST

Power up: Focus ST swaps current Focust ST170's 127kW 2.0-litre inline four for a 160kW 2.5-litre five-cylinder Duratec engine.

Ford to reveal hot new 160kW Focus ST hatch and Focus sedan at Geneva show

1 Mar 2005

FOLLOWING the Gen II Focus launch in Paris last September, Ford will introduce an ST performance version at Geneva on March 3. And the indications are that it will be a vast improvement over the current ST170 sold in Australia.

Due here in 2006, the all-new ST discards the current 127kW 2.0-litre inline-four for an altogether more interesting 2.5-litre five-cylinder Duratec engine delivering more than 160kW of power to the road via a six-speed manual gearbox.

Full details are still to emerge, however the bright-orange three-door borrows design cues from the Fiesta ST model sold overseas and sits on 18-inch five-spoke cast-aluminium rims with low-profile 225/50-series rubber.

Other notable visual elements include the thickset front bumper with inverted-trapezoid graphite-mesh lower grille, brushed aluminium foglights, a wide tailgate spoiler, a venturi-effect rear lower bumper and chrome-tipped dual sport exhaust.

Inside, the ST has a unique instrument pod showing turbo boost pressure, oil temperature and oil pressure and redesigned main instruments. Black trim, brushed aluminium detailing, a thick-rimmed tiller, leather-trimmed gearstick, well-bolstered front seats and cast aluminium pedals work the sporting theme further.

According to former Ford Australia boss and now Ford of Europe’s Vice President of Marketing, Sales and Service, Geoff Polites, the emergence of the ST version with 12 month of the mainstream line’s release demonstrates Ford’s commitment to building the ST brand.

"We’re serious about extending the ST family under the halo effect of our renewed commitment with Focus in the World Rally Championship," he said.

It is said to benefit from the formation of Ford Team RS, which combines Ford of Europe’s motorsport and performance car engineering teams.

"In the past, ST models came in the middle of a product cycle. Now we’re aligned with the design, vehicle dynamics and powertrain functions to better integrate performance derivative development and take fuller advantage of the vast array of resources made possible by Ford’s global shared technologies approach," said Ford Team RS boss Jost Capito.

The four-door sedan version of the next Focus will also be shown at Geneva ahead of an Australian debut around mid-2005. It has the same front-end look as other mainstream Focus models, if fitted with a space-saver spare wheel and has a maximum cargo volume of 526 litres.

Ford has also announced the four-door will form the base architecture for the production version of the Focus Vignale Concept – the svelte steel-roofed convertible shown in Paris last September, and now due for release in Europe at the end of 2006.

As was the case with the Ka-based Streetka cabriolet, the Focus drop-top will be built at Pininfarina’s Turin manufacturing facilities but will be the first European Ford to feature a folding steel lid.

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