All-new hot hatch scheduled to arrive Down Under in 2020, packed with a new 2.3-litre turbo engine, the first-time availability of an automatic transmission, and more tech than you can sneeze at.
Ford Performance has unveiled the new-generation Focus ST this week, ahead of an Australian launch early next year.
As before, the Focus ST will be offered with both petrol and diesel engines (though we never got the oiler Down Under) with an automatic transmission available for the first time with petrol power.
Headlining the powertrain set is anew 2.3-litre turbocharged 'EcoBoost' four-cylinder petrol engine, pumping out 280PS (206kW) at 5500rpm and 420Nm from 3000 to 4000rpm, paired with either a six-speed manual or seven-speed automatic.
Ford 'anticipates' the petrol-powered Focus ST can hit 100km/h in "less than 6.0 seconds".
"Engine response is enhanced using a low-inertia twin-scroll turbocharger, which scavenges exhaust gas energy more effectively using separated channels to minimise interference between gas pulses," the company says in its press release.
"An electronically actuated waste-gate allows closer control of boost pressures for optimised engine performance. In addition, a unique exhaust system that reduces back pressure, bespoke air intake system and optimised intercooler further improve breathing."
Ford adds the new ST employs anti-lag technology used in models like the GT supercar and F-150 Raptor that keeps the throttle open when the driver lifts off the accelerator when in Sport and Track modes, which alleviates the reversal of air flow from the turbocharger to "maintain compressor wheel speed and enabling boost pressure to build faster on demand".
The ST debuts Ford's implementation of an electronic limited-slip differential on a front-wheel vehicle, which helps enhance the "cornering and stability" of the car, "sharpening responses to changing grip levels and driver inputs using computer-controlled pre-emptive actuation".
"Incorporated into the transmission, the system uses hydraulically-activated clutches to limit the engine torque delivered to a wheel that has reduced traction on the road surface, and redistributes up to 100 per cent of available torque to the wheel with more traction to counteract wheel spin that can hamper acceleration through, and out of, corners."
The company says the eLSD is quicker to deploy and offers greater precision than mechanical differentials.
Diesel models instead get a Torque Vectoring Control system that brakes the inside front wheel to improve road holding and reduce understeer when cornering.
All versions get unique steering knuckle geometry compared to standard Focus models, with a rod attachment point 9mm further forward and 6.5mm higher "for sharper responses".
There's even software to reduce torque steer, along with bespoke-specification Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tyres wrapped around each wheel.
Other available features include the Continuously Controlled Damping (CCD) system as part of a Performance Pack for five-door versions, complementing the independent rear suspension setup for "ultimate refinement".
The technology monitors suspension, body, steering and braking inputs every two milliseconds and adjusts damping response accordingly to provide "outstanding" ride quality and dynamics.
Meanwhile, the 2.0-litre 'EcoBlue' four-cylinder turbo-diesel is the most powerful engine of its type fitted to a Focus, delivering 190PS (140kW) at 3500rpm and 400Nm from 2000 to 3000rpm. Additionally, there's a healthy 350Nm on tap from just 1500rpm.
The six-speed manual fitted as standard features a reduced throw action of 7.0 per cent compared to the standard manual-equipped Focus, and offers a rev-matching function when fitted with the optional Performance Pack (2.3 EcoBoost only).
On the other hand, the new seven-speed automatic available for the EcoBoost model features Adaptive Shift Scheduling, which assesses individual driving styles to optimise shift timing, along with wheel-mounted paddle shifters for further engagement.
All versions get larger 330mm x 27mm front brake discs with two-piston calipers, while the rears measure 302mm x 11mm. Ford claims the new model achieved almost four times the amount of fade resistance of the previous-generation model.
There's new selectable driving modes, too. When optioned with the Performance Pack, the ST offers a Track mode which delivers heavier steering, enhanced throttle and transmission mapping for more aggressive response and shifts, sets up the eLSD for maximum traction, turns down the ESC system, and turns the engine sound-enhancing function up to full noise.
Externally the new Focus ST gets more aggressive bumpers front and rear, new 18- and 19-inch alloy wheel designs, a more steeply-angled rear spoiler for improved downforce, dual tailpipes nestled in the rear diffuser (which also now allows for towing), and red-painted brake calipers when optioned with the Performance Pack.
Inside, the Focus ST gets Recaro sports seats (available in cloth, leather or leather/suede), an ST-embossed aluminium gear knob, ST scuff plates, metallic and satin silver trim elements, and grey top-stitching for the seats, doors and centre console side pads.
While mainly focused on performance, the new Focus ST benefits from the latest range of driver assistance and active safety systems as the core range, offering adaptive cruise control with stop&go function, lane-keep assist with lane centring function, adaptive headlights with camera-based auto high-beam, road sign recognition, Active Park Assist 2, a head-up display, along with Evasive Steering Assist which helps assist drivers in emergency steering manoeuvres to avoid collisions.
European customers will be able to purchase the new Focus ST in the northern hemisphere's summer, which commences in June.
Ford's local division has confirmed with CarAdvice that the all-new Focus ST will go on sale Down Under early in 2020, with pricing and specifications to be confirmed closer to the on-sale date.
At this stage, we know Australian models will be five-door hatch only, and petrol only. Both manual and automatic transmissions will be offered.
Stay tuned to CarAdvice for all the latest, let us know what you think in the comments, and click on the images for the full gallery.