Ford Focus ST (2012) at the Frankfurt motor show

Published: 12 September 2011

On the eve of the 2011 Frankfurt motor show, Ford has unveiled two ST models, the Focus ST hot hatch and the Focus ST Wagon. Ford unveiled a bright orange Focus ST concept at the Paris motor show 12 months ago, but this 247bhp car is the real thing and will go on sale in April 2012.

What do we know about the new Ford Focus ST?

Just as the latest Focus is Ford’s first truly global car, the new Focus ST is the Blue Oval’s first global performance car, built to be sold in Europe, the USA, and just about everywhere else as well. It’s been developed by Ford Team RS in Europe and the Special Vehicles Team (SVT) in the United States (the former ultimately led the project), with help from other experts around the world too.

The result is the new Focus ST, with a 2.0-litre Ecoboost engine delivering 247bhp and 266lb ft, figures that put it nicely up against the VW Scirocco R and Renaultsport Megane. That power figure is 25bhp up on the old Focus ST, and yet Ford claims fuel consumption and the CO2 emissions of the new car are over 20% better than its predecessor – reckon on sub-180g/km and over 35mpg. A six-speed manual gearbox is standard, with drive going through the front wheels.

What else do we know about the new Ford Focus ST?

The extra power (the Focus ST is 10bhp up on the 2.0 Ecoboost engine used in the Mondeo) has come from redesigned intake and exhaust systems, plus new ECU to deliver the responsiveness worthy of a hot hatch.

To make sure the new four-cylinder Focus ST sounds as good as its old five-pot engined predecessor, the new car has a sound symposer. This trick device, used on the old ST and RS Focuses, helps deliver the best sounds into the cabin, while filtering out unwanted noises. And there’s the exhaust too, now a unique central set-up.

And the driving experience?

There are uprated shock absorbers, a 10mm suspension drop, and a new rear anti-roll bar design. A new Ford Sport Steering System has a variable ratio rack, increasing the sensitivity during concerning, and Ford’s Torque Steer Compensation (TSC) system does what it says on the tin, counteracted torque steer through the electric power steering. There are now three ESP modes, fully on, a ‘reduced or wide-slip mode’ with the traction control completely off and the ESP system set to only intervene when absolutely necessary, and fully off.

Other acronyms are on hand to help too, including CUSC. Cornering Under Steer Control ‘applies torque to create yaw torque based on the vehicle’s understeer behavior prior to ESP, both in power-on and power-off conditions’. And Ford’s Torque Vectoring Control has been tuned to create an ST-specific Enhanced Torque Vectoring Control, which brakes the inner wheel during cornering to reduce understeer. Will all these system spoil the drive? We’ll find out early in 2012.

Anything else?

You may have noticed the styling, which retains the concept car’s huge trapezoid grille and central exhausts, along with the de rigueur bigger bumpers and sills. The Y-shaped 18in alloys ape the old Focus, are wrapped by 235/40 R18 Goodyear Eagle F1 Asymmetric 2 tyres, and a new Performance Pack paints the wheels black and the calipers red.

The concept car’s rather loud Tangerine Scream paint job has made it through to production, but thankfully red, white and blue hues will also be offered. Inside the pedals, steering wheel and gearknob are all to ST spec. The new Focus ST will be offered in three trim levels, imaginatively named ST1, ST2 and ST3. ST1 is the standard model, with cloth-trimmed Recaro seats and keyless start. ST2 adds part-leather Recaros, dual-zone climate control, ST-spec floor mats, auto lights and an auto-dimming rear view mirror. And the top-trim ST3 has heated, full-leather Recaros, plus a Recaro rear bench, and bi-xenon headlights.

What about this Focus ST estate?

If you’re not a hot hatch fan – or think that a fast five-door hatchback just isn’t practical enough – then you’ll be pleased to know that alongside the Focus ST hatch Ford revealed the Focus ST Wagon. ‘We know many European buyers favour the carrying capacity of a wagon, but still want the driving excitement and performance a five-door can offer,’ said Matthias Tonn, chief program engineer for the Focus ST. ‘With such a stylish wagon in the new Focus range, we had the ideal basis on which to create a unique niche model for these customers – and it will be just as exciting to drive as the five-door’. The only real difference between the hatch and estate is the latter’s angled shock absorbers, which help maintain the big boot.

Phew! Anything else?

Yes, the new Focus ST-R. This ST-based racer has been built for competition in North America (there’s no news yet on if or when it might reach Europe, but Ford hopes it will compete at the Nürburgring 24hrs next year) and features the 2.0 Ecoboost engine, an FIA-spec roll cage, uprated brakes and track-tuned suspension.

Finally, a new generation of Formula Ford racer has also been unveiled, which uses a 1.6-litre Ecoboost engine.

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By Ben Pulman

CAR's editor-at-large, co-ordinator, tallboy