The Mk4 ST will pack up to 12 per cent more power and 17 per cent more torque than the previous iteration. Those gains are likely to be necessary as the car squares up to the 316bhp Civic and, within the next 12 months, a hot Mk8 Golf that’s expected to have up to 300bhp.
Ford is continuing to offer the ST with a choice of petrol or diesel power, and the option of an Estate body style as well as the regular five-door. The 2.3-litre EcoBoost four-cylinder petrol engine produces 276bhp at 5,500rpm, and 420Nm between 3,000rpm and 4,000rpm. The brand says the unit is the most free-revving Focus ST motor yet and offers enough to propel the front-wheel-drive five-door from 0-62mph in less than six seconds. That means it’s set to slice at least half a second off the Mk3 ST’s figure.
The motor also features anti-lag – a feature gleaned from the development of the GT supercar and F-150 Raptor pick-up, Ford says. The tech, which is more commonly used on competition vehicles, keeps the throttle open even when the driver lifts their foot off the accelerator, maintaining pressure to the turbo and improving response. This ST’s system is said to be more of a performance aid than to produce the pops and bangs that have featured on throttle lifts since the Mk2.
The EcoBlue diesel is the most powerful engine of its type ever offered in a Focus, with 187bhp and 400Nm of torque. That latter figure comes in between 2,000rpm and 3,000rpm, but Ford claims 360Nm is available at just 1,500rpm. As a result, the Mk4 ST diesel has 10 per cent more power and double the torque of the Mk1 ST170.
This ST gets a limited-slip differential – a feature normally reserved for the Focus RS – but it’s an electronic e-diff instead of the mechanical set-up that has featured on previous extreme Focus models. Developed by Borg Warner, and available only on the petrol car, the e-diff uses hydraulic clutches integrated into the transmission to limit the torque being delivered to the wheel with less grip. This means it can redistribute up to 100 per cent of the torque to the wheel that has traction, helping to boost acceleration out of corners.
The ST’s ride height is 10mm lower than a regular Focus’s, while damper stiffness is up by a fifth at the front and 13 per cent at the rear. The car has bespoke Michelin Sport Pilot 4S tyres and the power steering gets a boost, too, going beyond the quick response of the current Fiesta ST; you need just two turns of the wheel, lock to lock.
A six-speed manual gearbox features as standard across both petrol and diesel engines; this has a seven per cent shorter shift throw than in regular Focuses. As part of an optional Performance Pack, which also brings Continuously Controlled Damping, you’ll get a gearshift indicator light and rev-matching technology to help maintain momentum during downshifts. The latter can be deactivated if you want to heel-and-toe conventionally.
In addition, the petrol edition of the ST is available with a seven-speed auto gearbox, which assesses driving style and optimises gearshift timings accordingly. It can also be controlled using paddles mounted behind the steering wheel.
The ST gets a selection of styling upgrades, although the car is still similar in appearance to the ST-Line trim level. There’s a revised front grille, a bigger and more angled rear spoiler, unique alloy wheels and the option of two exclusive colours: Ford Performance Blue and, in a nod to the five-cylinder Mk2 Focus ST, Orange Fury.
Inside, there are Recaro sports seats, aluminium pedals, metal flourishes on the vents and grey stitching. Ford’s SYNC 3 infotainment system – an eight-inch display incorporating navigation, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto functionality – also features.
The ST is due to arrive in dealers towards the end of the summer, with the petrol, diesel, five-door and Estate models all available from launch. Early versions will all be in the top ST-3 trim level, Auto Express understands, and pitched at the higher-end customers who made up around 70 per cent of Mk3 ST sales anyway.
There’s no word yet on pricing, but we’d expect a modest increase over the outgoing car, with a five-door ST-3 EcoBoost costing around £27,500, undercutting the Hyundai i30 N Performance by more than £1,000.
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