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by Tim Beissmann

The 2012 Ford Focus ST has burst out of the blocks overnight to become one of the first vehicles unveiled at this year’s Frankfurt Motor Show.

And it came with a big surprise too, with Ford not only unveiling the conventional Focus ST hatch but also an estate version called the Ford Focus ST Wagon.

Ford is calling the new Focus ST its first global performance car. Developed under the One Ford strategy, the five-door Focus ST hatch will be sold in more than 40 markets around the world from 2012 – including Australia – while the Focus ST Wagon will launch at the same time, but only in Europe.

Fans of the original Focus ST Concept revealed at the 2010 Paris Motor Show 12 months ago will be happy to know the production version of the Ford Focus ST retains much of the flair.

Both hatch and wagon variants feature the new gaping trapezoidal mouth at the front, traditional 18-inch Y-spoke alloy wheels at the corners and a large spoiler and dual-hexagonal central exhaust at the rear.

As speculated, the 2012 Ford Focus ST is powered by a 2.0-litre EcoBoost turbocharged petrol engine with 184kW of power and 360Nm of torque (up 18kW/40Nm from the old five-cylinder engine).

A six-speed manual transmission sends power to the front wheels, and Ford says it has tuned the gearing to produce maximum punch from each throw, while also stretching sixth for supreme fuel economy on longer highway runs.

The Focus ST is yet to be subjected to official fuel consumption and emissions tests, but Ford’s engineers say they are expecting efficiency improvements of more than 20 per cent over the old model. If that’s the case, expect combined cycle fuel consumption below 7.4 litres/100km and CO2 emissions under 179g/km.

The newly developed Ford Sport Steering System has been designed to increase agility and inspire high-speed confidence. Ford says the electric power steering system will be less sensitive in straight lines and more responsive during cornering.

Ford has also enhanced its Torque Steer Compensation system, which improves grip under full acceleration on any surface. The ESP system has been tuned to be non-intrusive, and can be completely switched off if the driver desires.

The Focus’s Torque Vectoring Control system is an enhanced version of the program from the standard Focus, reducing understeer and improving traction much like a traditional limited-slip differential.

Uprated shocks and springs lower the Focus ST by 10mm for a lower centre of gravity and a more aggressive stance. The suspension setup differs between the hatch and the wagon, but Ford says the handling characteristics are ultimately the same.

On the outside, the 2012 Ford Focus ST is available to order in Tangerine Scream, Performance Blue, Race Red and White.

Inside, the Recaro seats have been designed specially for the new ST, with an emphasis on a lower driver position and support during spirited driving. They also incorporate premium features like cushion tilt and length adjustment.

Depending on the specification level, the new Ford Focus ST will come standard with keyless start, dual-zone climate control, automatic bi-xenon headlights, auto-dimming mirrors and automatic wipers.

The full specifications of the 2012 Ford Focus ST will be revealed closer to its Australian launch, expected sometime next year.