Essentially a middle ground between the pedestrian Focus and the unhinged Focus RS, the Focus ST has traditionally offered more power and a sportier look and drive than your average Focus, without the incivility and price tag of the RS. Ford, to its credit, sees no reason to alter this formula. It will show an "early preview" of the next-generation ST, the first car born from the company's new global Performance Vehicles strategy, in Paris ahead of the car's global launch at the end of 2011 or early 2012.
For now, Ford calls it the "range-topping" Focus, a nod to the retirement of the current Focus RS, whose successor is not yet confirmed. All Ford will tell us at this time is that the Focus ST will come equipped with the most powerful version of the new EcoBoost turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine, providing roughly 250 horsepower to the front wheels. Our eyes tell us that this car will deliver the power via a six-speed manual transmission, though it's possible Ford could offer its PowerShift dual-clutch automatic as well.
Assuming the new Focus ST follows the same path as the car it's replacing, don't expect too many more mechanical changes. While it's possible Ford could include the Focus RS' RevoKnuckle front suspension (a variation on the traditional MacPherson strut that reduces torque steer), it's more likely that the car will use MacPherson struts to keep costs down. Given the power output, a limited-slip differential would be a nice feature, but isn't guaranteed. Both the front struts and the rear "Control Blade" multi-link suspension will likely be re-tuned for a stiffer, sportier ride. Ford promises "an intoxicating cocktail of exhilarating performance and handling accompanied by an addictive sound."
Differentiations between the standard Focus and Focus ST won't be hidden under the skin. Ford has torn apart and reworked the front and rear of the Focus to create a distinct Focus ST. A hatchback body will likely be the only variant based on previous ST models, so the car you see here will likely be very similar to the car that arrives at dealers.
Ford has done the most work in front, where it has completely revamped the car's sheetmetal. A revised hood offers deeper strakes around the reshaped headlights and the rows of LEDs that form the driving lights. Below is a gaping grille with blacked-out vertical elements and a small ST badge. Further below, an aggressive splitter hides repositioned fog lights at its outermost edges. In all, the look is vaguely reminiscent of a modern Aston Martin.
Ford's also been busy at the other end of the car. Up top, the standard hatchback's small spoiler has been replaced with a larger, more aggressive piece to match the car's new muscular look. Below it, the taillights have been slightly revised and the beefy rear bumper is all new. It features a futuristic center exhaust tip flanked by diffusers integrated into the bumper.
Around the sides, Ford has given the car sharper lines and bulked up the fender flares for a sportier appearance. The new look is finished off with a set of large five-spoke wheels similar to those seen on a standard Focus, but with thinner spokes to show off the big, body-color brakes, finished in gold with low-profile tires.
The whole car is coated in a new metallic orange paint Ford calls Tangerine Scream that carries over to the all-black interior, where it can be found accenting the bolsters and headrests on the black leather seats and in the accent stitching on the seats, arm rest, shifter boot, steering wheel, door panels, and dash. It's complemented by blacked-out trim on the dash and steering wheel and carbon-fiber trim on the center stack. Brushed metallic accents can be found on the shift knob, steering wheel, and door handles. Finally, Ford has fitted a set of auxiliary gauges to the top of the center stack showing the oil pressure, oil temperature, and turbo boost pressure.
2012 Ford Focus ST Front View
So far, we like what we see, but we're left with a lot of questions. While the Focus ST is a safe bet for European markets, Ford has said nothing official yet about a U.S.-spec car, although we fully expect this ST to come to the U.S. at some point, especially given the "One Ford" mantra that is now in full swing. With rival GM reportedly working on a 260-horsepower version of the Chevrolet Cruze to replace the old Cobalt SS, a Focus ST makes sense here, at least to us enthusiasts. Ford also hasn't announced pricing for this model yet, but it will likely carry a significant premium over a standard five-door Focus.
We should learn more about the new 2012 Ford Focus ST when it makes its debut at the Paris show September 30-October 1, where it will share the stage with all three variants of the standard Focus: sedan, hatchback, and wagon, together for the first time. Stay tuned for our complete show coverage live from the floor of the Paris Expo Porte de Versailles.
|2012 Ford Focus ST|