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Ford unleashes 206kW/420Nm Focus ST

Automatic joins manual as Ford revs up Focus ST hot hatch due early next year

19 Feb 2019

FORD has revealed the fourth-generation Focus ST hot hatch with significantly upgraded engine and transmission options ahead of its arrival in Australian showrooms early next year.


Described by the Blue Oval brand as the most ‘Jekyll and Hyde’ ST yet, the hot five-door takes its “free-revving” 2.3-litre four-cylinder EcoBoost petrol unit with a twin-scroll turbocharger from the current-generation Focus RS.


However, in this application, the engine is tuned to produce 206kW of power at 5500rpm and 420Nm of torque from 3000-4000rpm – a 22kW/60Nm gain over the ST’s 2.0-litre predecessor – alongside a sporty soundtrack punctuated by pops and bangs.


While a 140kW/400Nm 2.0-litre turbo-diesel and wagon versions of the ST are available overseas, Ford Australia has confirmed to GoAuto that neither will be offered Down Under.


For the first time ever with the ST, a seven-speed automatic transmission (with paddle-shifters) will be optional, although a six-speed manual unit continues to be standard, albeit with the option of rev-matching.


Given that the ST will go toe-to-toe with Hyundai’s 202kW/353Nm i30 N and Volkswagen’s 180kW/370Nm Golf GTI, its straight-line performance needs to be suitably quick, with Ford expecting its 0-100km/h sprint time to be “less than 6.0 seconds”.


In order to counteract traction issues under hard acceleration in front-wheel-drive vehicles, both manual and automatic versions have an electronic limited-slip differential (eLSD) that can redistribute up to 100 per cent of torque to the wheel with the most grip.


Riding on Ford’s new C2 platform, the ST sits 10mm lower than the regular Focus thanks to its sports-tuned suspension that features an independent multi-link rear axle and adaptive dampers at both ends.


Damping stiffness in the ST is up 20 and 13 per cent at the front and rear respectively over the standard Focus, although the pair do share spring rates.


Steering-wise, the ST’s electric system is 15 per cent quicker than the set-up used by the regular Focus, requiring only two turns lock-to-lock, while Ford claims its new software helps reduce torque steer.


The ST rolls on 18- or 19-inch alloy wheels wrapped in grippy Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tyres, while braking is handled by 330x27mm front discs clamped by red two-piston callipers, and 302x11mm rear rotors.


Visually, the ST sets itself apart from the standard Focus with its dark-grey honeycomb grille insert, unique bumpers and side skirts, dual exhaust tailpipes and hatch-mounted spoiler.


Inside, supportive Recaro sports seats, a flat-bottom steering wheel, padded knee bolsters, ST-branded scuff plates and bespoke digital instrumentation further differentiate the ST.


Other standard equipment includes an 8.0-inch touchscreen Sync3 infotainment system, satellite navigation, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto support, DAB+ digital radio, 10-speaker Bang & Olufsen sound system, a reversing camera and LED headlights, daytime running lights and foglights.


Advanced driver-assist systems extend to autonomous emergency braking, lane-keep and steering assist and adaptive cruise control with stop and go functionality, among others.


In Australia, the ST will be sourced from Germany and available in two grades as well as with an optional Performance Pack that features launch control, shift indicator lights, a Track driving mode and the aforementioned rev-matching for manual versions.


Standard driving modes include Slippery/Wet, Normal and Sport, all of which adjust throttle, engine sound enhancement, transmission, eLSD, suspension, steering, braking and electronic stability control settings while on the move.


“Local enthusiasts have made it clear that there’s a desire for highly engaging performance hatches,” said Ford Australia president and chief executive officer Kay Hart.


“The all-new Focus ST builds on a tradition of legendary hot hatches and will deliver an exhilarating driving experience as the latest model from Ford Performance.”


Sales of the Focus took a significant hit last year in the lead up to new model’s release in December, with the 3875 examples sold representing a 34.9 per cent decrease over the 5953 deliveries made in 2017.


As reported, the Focus is not the only Ford model to have an ST version on the horizon, with the Fiesta light car’s performance flagship scheduled to head Down Under in the second half of this year.

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