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It's the Focus ST170, more or less

First out of the blocks: Ford's new Focus ST170 will be the first of three hot hatches to go on sale in May.

Ford confirms pricing and an on-sale date for the hot Focus ST170

11 Apr 2003

FORD has revealed its new Focus ST170 hot hatch will cost $37,000 plus on-road costs when it goes on sale from May 1.

The Focus will be the first of three imported performance small cars to be put on sale by the big three - Toyota, Holden and Ford - but it will also be the least powerful and probably the most expensive.

The Holden Astra SRi Turbo with 147kW of power will also go on sale in May and the 140kW Toyota Corolla Sportivo is set for release late in that month.

The Sportivo will definitely undercut the Focus while the Astra is tipped to be lineball, with the price expected to be $36,990 plus on-road costs.

But that does not deter Ford Australia Focus brand manager Craig Smith, who says the ST170 is intended to be a hero car for the Focus range rather than a big seller.

"Sure they have more power which means they might go faster in a straightline, but I think you've got to weigh up which one is going to go around the corners better," he said.

"If you want something that really handles you should look at the Focus.

"Also I think people need to go through the list of features ST170 has and that will help them understand the package that we offer. There are some features and technology I don't think you will find in the other cars."The ST170 - the figure refers to its engine output in the PS measure - will be available here only in three-door form and painted "imperial blue".

It is powered by a developed version of the 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine already sold locally in the Focus Zetec model. Coded "Duratec ST", it develops 127kW at 7000rpm and 196Nm of torque at 2500rpm.

That compares to the standard Zetec 2.0-litre's outputs of 96kW and 178Nm.

The engineering enhancements include a high-flow aluminium cylinder head with larger inlet valves and higher-lift intake and exhaust camshafts for higher peak rpm levels continuously variable intake valve timing high compression, cast-aluminium pistons and forged steel connecting rods dual mass flywheel new dual state intake manifold, using long runners for low-end torque and shorter runners for higher peak power outputs larger bore free-flowing stainless steel exhaust system, tuned for enhanced performance sound.

Standard equipment is comprehensive and includes air-conditioning, six-CD audio system and dual front and side airbags

Other mechanical boosts include a close-ratio Getrag six-speed manual gearbox, re-tuned sports suspension and an uprated brake package.

The suspension changes include new springs and dampers and front lower control arms. Engineers also increased spring rates, fitted larger stabiliser bars and revised the standard car's power steering gearing.

The braking upgrade comprises larger diameter brake discs, unique callipers, four-channel ABS, traction control and the VDC AdvanceTrac stability system.

Complementing all that are unique 15-spoke 17-inch alloy wheels and low profile tyres.

Which brings us to the styling package which includes front, rear and side skirts, spoiler and ST170 decals all developed in Australia, along with large-honeycomb-mesh radiator grille and bumper grille treatments for optimal cooling, plus unique round, projector-style foglights.

Inside there's a silver faced instrument panel, including additional analogue gauges for oil temperature and oil pressure. Sports seats with leather-trimmed bolsters are standard, along with drilled metallic pedal covers with rubber grips, as well as metallic highlights on the face of the leather gear lever knob, the release button of the leather-wrapped hand brake, the door handles and door sills.

Standard equipment is comprehensive and includes air-conditioning, six-CD audio system and dual front and side airbags.

* The fourth Aussie manufacturer, Mitsubishi, should add a locally-developed 130kW Lancer sedan to the hot-stuff mix later this year. Expected to evoke memories of the once popular Lancer GSR, it should retail in the mid to high $30,000 bracket.

Watch out for our first local drive verdict of the Focus ST170 early in May. In the meantine, go to our Future Models story "First drive: ST focuses on sport", in which we sampled the English version of the ST on New Zealand roads late last year.

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