Ford insists the new Focus ST will be manufactured with best-ever craftsmanship and quality as it hunts down its GTi competitors, writes Declan Colley
It seems that we have been waiting an absolute age for the new Ford Focus ST, but it may just be that the sense of anticipation surrounding the car has stretched time to breaking point.
Fans will also have been confused by Ford’s decision to make the unrelated ST Line versions of the regular Focus available ahead of the launch of the ST proper, but the fact of the matter is that the GTi competitor will be on our roads this summer.
Ahead of that, Ford this week revealed that the all-new Focus ST — “developed by Ford Performance to deliver nimble hot-hatchback thrills in a stylish, comfortable and practical family car” — has been given a radical engineering and mechanical make-over and is now considerably more muscular that previously.
As expected, the ST will come in two bodystyles — five door and estate — and will be blessed with stuff like unique suspension, braking and powertrain configurations for what is said to be the most responsive and agile Focus ST yet.
There will, as has been the case in the past, both diesel and petrol versions and Ford says fans can expect up to 12% more power and 17% more torque compared with the previous generation ST.
The 280 bhp 2.3-litre EcoBoost petrol and 190 PS 2.0-litre EcoBlue diesel engines are both reported to deliver a broad spread of power and torque across the rev-range, for fast-revving sports performance, which is what you might expect.
The new ST will also see Ford’s first application of an electronic limited-slip differential (eLSD) for a front-wheel drive vehicle, a move which will enhances cornering and stability of the EcoBoost-powered variant.
Ford says it is also the most free-revving Focus ST engine ever, and supports anticipated 0-100km/h (0-62 mph) acceleration in less than 6 seconds. We have also been told that engine response is enhanced using a low-inertia twin-scroll turbocharger, which scavenges exhaust gas energy more effectively using separated channels to minimise interference between gas pulses.
An electronically actuated waste-gate allows closer control of boost pressures for optimised engine performance. In addition, a unique exhaust system that reduces back pressure, bespoke air intake system and optimised intercooler further improve breathing.
Innovative anti-lag technology developed for the Ford GT supercar and F-150 Raptor pick-up is introduced to the Focus ST, for immediate power delivery in sport and track drive modes. Anti-lag keeps the throttle open when the driver lifts off the accelerator pedal, alleviating the reversal of air flow from the turbocharger to maintain compressor wheel speed and enabling boost pressure to build faster on demand.
On the diesel Ford’s 190 bhp 2.0-litre EcoBlue is the most powerful diesel engine ever offered for a Focus model, delivering peak power at 3,500 rpm and 400 Nm of torque between 2,000 rpm and 3,000 rpm — and 360 Nm from 1,500 rpm — for immediate and linear acceleration.
A low-inertia variable geometry turbocharger; steel pistons for less expansion when hot; and an integrated intake system with innovative mirror-image porting for optimised combustion help to deliver a diesel powertrain that produces 10% more power and more than twice as much torque as the 2.0litre Duratec ST petrol engine in the first generation Focus ST.
A choice of six-speed manual or quick-shifting new seven-speed automatic transmissions is offered, and Selectable Drive Modes technology is introduced to the Focus ST for the first time, enabling drivers to adjust the vehicle’s character to suit the driving scenario.
Continuously Controlled Damping (CCD) — standard for five-door EcoBoost variants — enhances the short long arm (SLA) independent rear suspension configuration for greater driver satisfaction.
Leo Roeks, who is Ford’s performance director for Europe reckons that intelligent technologies like eLSD and CCD make the new Focus ST the most “Jekyll and Hyde” yet, able to switch from refined tourer to focussed performance car at the push of a button. “We’ve incorporated what we’ve learned from programmes including our Ford GT supercar and the Focus RS to develop a mid-size performance car with a degree of flexibility that’s unique in its segment,” Roeks commented at the car’s unveiling.
Ford insists the new Focus ST will be manufactured with best-ever craftsmanship and quality following a €600m investment at Ford’s Saarlouis assembly facility, Germany.
“The EcoBoost petrol and EcoBlue diesel powertrains have unique characters, but are equally charismatic,” Roeks said.
“The Focus ST’s sporty ‘pops and bangs’ soundtrack perfectly matches the car’s feisty performance and is an essential part of the ST experience.”
Ford has also revealed that the all-new Focus ST steals Ford’s fastest-steering- response crown from the acclaimed Fiesta ST. The electric power-assisted steering (EPAS) system is 15% faster than the standard Focus, requiring just two turns lock-to-lock.
Larger front and rear brake components provide the foundation for a high performance braking system with improved stopping power and fade resistance.
A traditional Focus ST gauge cluster benefits from a contemporary execution inspired by the Ford GT supercar. Digital turbocharger boost pressure, oil pressure and oil temperature gauges are now displayed in a bespoke Ford Performance screen on the 4.2in, TFT colour instrument display. Launch Control for consistently fast standing starts on track is also delivered via the Performance Pack for 2.3-litre EcoBoost models.
Developed to be as comfortable as it is fun-to-drive, the new Focus ST exploits the class-leading roominess and exceptional refinement of the standard Focus range, and features an upscale interior.
Ford Performance engineers fine-tuned the positioning of supportive Recaro front seats to complement the connected and in-control feel for the driver, while ESE technology amplifies genuine engine and exhaust noise in Sport and Track modes — heightening the sports driving sensation and delivering additional feedback to assist performance drivers.
The all-new Focus ST will go on sale across Europe in summer 2019 with prices and specifications to be confirmed.