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280hp turbo power for new Ford Focus ST

Wednesday, 27th February, 2019 3:22pm

Ford might be culling most of its conventional passenger car models to make way for a slew of new SUVs and crossovers in the coming years, but thankfully for enthusiasts it still knows how to make a proper hot hatch.

The new Focus ST will go on sale in the summer, in both hatchback and estate forms, and is packing enough power and technology to seriously trouble the Golf GTI.

That power comes from a 2.3 litre EcoBoost four-cylinder petrol engine, closely related to that used by the Mustang coupe. It develops 280hp and 420Nm of torque, and while Ford isn’t talking specific performance figures yet, it does claim that the petrol Focus ST will accelerate to 100km/h in “less than six seconds”.

Petrol Focus ST? Oh yes, there’s a diesel version too, although quite who will actually want to buy one is a matter for future debate.

It uses Ford’s new 2.0 litre 190hp EcoBlue diesel engine, which has 400Nm of torque and is the most powerful diesel engine yet offered in a Focus. Both models get a six-speed manual gearbox with the rev-matching technology already seen in the Mustang (it ‘blips’ the throttle as you change down both the smooth out the gearshift and to give you some aural entertainment) and a seven-speed automatic will be available too.

To maximise the petrol engine’s responsiveness, it gets the anti-lag system from the GT supercar, which keeps exhaust gases flowing to the twin-scroll turbocharger even when you’re off the throttle.

The ST gets suspension that sits 10mm lower than a standard Focus, and is 20 per cent stiffer at the front. Clever CCD (charge-couple device) adaptive dampers alter their stiffness ever two milliseconds, and monitor your steering, throttle, and brake inputs to help them decide on the appropriate level of damping.

There’s also a Borg-Warner-developed electronic limited slip differential, which can shunt all of the engine’s power to one front wheel, if needs be, and which can use steering, throttle, and brake inputs to actually predict a loss of traction before it happens, and deploy the engine’s power accordingly.

The ST also gets bigger brakes than the old model, which are said to be four-times more resistant to fade. It also gets the steering rack from the Fiesta ST, with new software that reduces the effects of torque steer.

Safety kit includes adaptive cruise control and active LED headlights, but the most important safety items are really the bespoke-specification Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tyres.

Inside, there are high-back Recaro bucket seats, an eight-inch SYNC3 touchscreen, and a dedicated Sport button the steering wheel which gives you quick access to the Sport and Track modes of the electronic driving experience control.

“Our target was to deliver an all-new Focus ST that is as effortless to drive day-to-day as the rest of the Focus line-up,” Leo Roeks, Ford Performance director for Europe explained.

“The model’s comprehensive range of technologies means customers gain exhilarating ST performance without sacrifice. Intelligent technologies like eLSD and CCD make our all-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 learnings from programmes including the Ford GT and Focus RS to develop a mid-size performance car with a degree of flexibility that’s unique in its segment.”

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