The new Ford Focus ST will be available from £29,495 in the UK, with first customer deliveries due to begin next month.
The entry-level variant will be the ST hatch in 187bhp 2.0-litre EcoBlue guise, the most powerful diesel powertrain ever available with the Focus. In estate form, the diesel ST starts from £30,595. By comparison, the model’s chief rival, the Volkswagen Golf GTI, is available from £25,845 in 217bhp 2.0-litre TSI guise.
The 276bhp 2.3-litre Ecoboost petrol-powered variant will be available from £31,995, rising to £33,095 for the estate version.
The 2019 Focus will no longer be available in ST-2 and ST-3 forms but, for £23,500, buyers can spec their Focus in ST-Line X trim, which is available with a 180bhp 1.5-litre Ecoboost petrol engine good for 137mph and 0-62mph in 8.3sec.
Ford says the latest iteration of the Focus ST offers “the most responsive and agile Focus ST driving experience ever, on road and track”, thanks to the model’s new C2 platform and a host of new technology derived from halo models such as the Ford GT supercar and the Mustang.
It is the first front-wheel-drive Ford to get an electronic limited-slip differential (eLSD), intended to enhance cornering stability. Rev-matching technology is available with the six-speed manual gearbox. A seven-speed automatic is also available.
Selectable drive modes are another first for the Focus ST. They comprise Slippery/Wet, Normal and Sport, plus a Track mode for versions equipped with the Performance pack. The drive modes adjust various parameters, including the ST’s electric steering, which is Ford’s fastest yet and 15% faster than a standard Focus’s.
There is also continuously controlled damping (CCD), standard on five-door petrol variants, which monitors suspension, steering and braking inputs to adjust damping responses every two milliseconds and promises “ultimate refinement”.
Leo Roeks, Ford Performance boss in Europe, said: “Technologies like eLSD and CCD make the Focus ST the most ‘Jekyll and Hyde’ yet, able to switch from refined tourer to focused 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.”
Ford’s 2.3-litre Ecoboost petrol engine is the most powerful yet offered in an ST. In the 276bhp range-topping variant, it produces 310lb ft from 3000-4000rpm, and is claimed to be the most free-revving Focus ST engine yet. The benchmark sprint of 0-62mph is said to take less than 6.0sec, making it at least 0.5sec quicker than the outgoing equivalent model.
Anti-lag technology, developed for the GT supercar originally, is intended to provide immediate power delivery in Sport and Track drive modes. The tech keeps the throttle open slightly when the driver comes off the accelerator, easing the reversal of airflow and allowing boost pressure to build faster on demand.
Meanwhile, the diesel ST delivers peak power at 3500rpm and 295lb ft between 2000-3000rpm. The model produces 10% more power than, and over twice as much torque as, the original ST170.
Ford says the ST’s six-speed manual transmission aids “more urgent gearchanges and… a sportier feel”, thanks to a shift-throw reduction of 7% compared with the standard Focus. Rev-matching technology, first seen on the Mustang, is also introduced as part of the optional Performance pack for Ecoboost manual models.
While the petrol-powered Focus ST receives Ford’s new eLSD, the diesel Focus gets torque vectoring control technology, which reduces understeer by applying brake force to the inside front wheel when cornering.
Exterior tweaks over the standard model are subtle: there are unique alloy wheels, a revised grille for increased cooling and changes to the low wing and air curtains to improve aerodynamics. At the rear, there is a spoiler and twin tailpipes. The Performance pack adds red brake calipers.
Inside, the Focus ST receives Recaro front seats, a sports steering wheel and a host of ST-embossed features, and engine and exhaust noise is amplified in Sport and Track modes. Equipment upgrades over the ST-Line X include a rear-view parking camera, adaptive cruise control, a Bang & Olufsen sound system and heated steering wheel.