The boss of Ford Performance Europe has ruled out an all-wheel-drive version of the new generation Focus ST hot hatch as a possible replacement for the Focus RS which was axed last month.
Speaking to Australian media via a video link for the local launch of the blue oval brand’s latest hot hatch, Stefan Muenzinger said there are no plans for an all-wheel-drive system to handle the most powerful Ford Focus ST to date.
The new Ford Focus ST has a slightly detuned version of the 2.3-litre turbo from the Ford Focus RS, and sends its 206kW/420Nm output to the front wheels only via a six-speed manual or, for the first time, a seven-speed auto.
“No, there (are) no plans for an all-wheel-drive (Focus) ST. That would naturally be the (Focus) RS proposition,” said Mr Muenzinger.
“As you know we officially announced there will be no RS based on this Focus architecture … and no there won’t be an all-wheel-drive (of the ST).
“I personally think this car doesn’t need all-wheel-drive because the (electronically controlled mechanical limited slip differential) is a key enabler for traction.”
Mr Muenzinger said there are some conditions in which the Ford Focus ST might benefit from all-wheel-drive, but in dry conditions the grip levels are comparable.
“Ok, if you would pull away in the wet in first gear, yes, as a front-wheel-drive car you will struggle with traction and traction control comes,” said Mr Muenzinger.
“But anywhere in dry conditions, you would be surprised by the amount of traction you get via the (electronically controlled mechanical limited slip differential), and the tuning with it, and the tyres. It’s quite amazing actually.”
Mr Muenzinger said hardware upgrades such as the electronically controlled mechanical limited slip differential, specially-developed Michelin Pilot Sport 4 S tyres and “triple tube” shock absorbers that adjust to road conditions every two milliseconds, had elevated the new Focus ST to the next level.
“For (Focus) ST we think that’s the right technical solution, it’s class leading in terms of traction control and no all-wheel-drive,” said Mr Muenzinger.
Our first drive on Australian roads of the new Ford Focus ST goes live this Thursday at 3pm EST.