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New Ford Focus ST revealed: the family hatchback gets heated

Published: 18 February 2019

► 2019 Ford Focus ST
► Hot hatch has 276bhp
► Plus trick electronic diff

Another year, another new fast Ford. This is the new Ford Focus ST hot hatch, revealed ahead of the 2019 Geneva motor show the Blue Oval happens to not be attending.

This thing has big boots to fill after the riotous Fiesta ST, and has to be compared against not just a huge army of hot hatch opposition but a growing number of quick SUVs.

Ford says the new Focus ST offers no compromises – it’s just as much at home at a track, on a twisty road or just pottering around town. Both hatchback and estate bodystyles will be available when it goes on sale in summer 2019.

Give me the engine specs

Technically there’s two as, just like the previous-gen Focus ST, there’s a petrol and a diesel offering. The one that will get most of the attention is the petrol, which uses a 2.3-litre EcoBoost four-cylinder turbo, much like the current Mustang and previous-generation Focus RS.

Ford Focus ST rear tracking

In the new ST, it produces 276bhp and 310lb ft driven by either a stubby six-speed manual or a seven-speed auto to the front wheels. Performance specs aren’t nailed down just yet, but Ford promises a sub-six second 0-62mph sprint time, putting it in the crosshairs of the Hyundai i30N, Renault Megane R.S. 280 and Honda Civic Type R.

The diesel, meanwhile, uses Ford’s 187bhp 2.0-litre EcoBlue diesel. Oddly, it has less torque than the petrol at 295lb ft. Performance specs aren’t known yet, but most folks don’t by the diesel ST for the sprint timings.

Any handling trickery under the skin?

Well, Ford says the petrol ST has the first front-wheel drive electric limited-slip differential it’s ever made. Developed by Borg-Warner, the eLSD can shift all of the power to either wheel; Ford says it’s much more precise and responsive than a traditional mechanical one, too. The diesel does without the eLSD, using torque vectoring by braking instead.

Ford Focus ST front cornering

An optional Performance Pack throws in a few extra handling toys: rev-matching for the petrol manual versions, adaptive dampers, a Track mode for the mode selector, launch control and red brake calipers.

Any special ST interior bits?

Again, it’s a lot like the Fiesta, so mostly standard Ford interior – with a few neat sporty touches. Chunky and huggy Recaro seats with grey stitching and thick bolsters are included as standard, plus a flat-bottomed steering wheel, chunky metal gearkob and metal pedals.

Ford points to the arsenal of tech and safety kit you can add, like a head-up display, adaptive cruise and a ‘segment first’ evasive steering assist in emergencies.

What else?

Well, along with there being an estate version, Ford says it moved the exhaust tailpipes away from the centre as that prevented towing. Camp Saturday, track day Sunday, drive home Monday.

Ford Focus ST interior

Along with the demure Performance Blue pictured, Ford hasn’t entirely let the ST become a hot hatch wallflower; ‘Tangerine Scream’ might be dead, but in its place is 'Orange Fury' – the same shade of orange you can get on the Mustang.

When can I buy one?

Sales start in summer 2019 for all versions. Pricing isn’t known yet, but we’d hazard a guess at the £26,000 mark. Stay tuned for more details.

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By Jake Groves

CAR's staff writer, office Geordie, gamer, lover of hot hatches