The production version of the 2012 Ford Focus ST, the spiritual successor to the Focus SVT, made its debut at the Frankfurt Auto Show, underscoring the new global approach that the company is taking not only to its mass-market entries, but also to its performance products.
The Focus ST will be sold in over 40 markets including the U.S. and promises stepped up performance and handling over the standard model thanks to suspension upgrades and a 2.0-liter Ecoboost turbocharged inline-4 producing 247 bhp and 265 lb.-ft. of torque.
While the ST will be offered in all markets as a 5-door hatch, Europeans will also be able to opt for the ST package on wagons.
The heart of the ST (which stands for Sport Technologies) is the lightweight aluminum-block engine featuring high-pressure direct injection, a low-inertia turbocharger that spins up to speed quickly, and independently acting variable valve timing on both intake and exhaust sides of the engine. The new powerplant replaces the 2.5-liter inline-5 of the previous European ST and offers better performance.
The engine is mated to a 6-speed manual transmission with revised gear ratios to take advantage of the Ecoboost engine’s increased output.
Emphasis on Driving Dynamics
The 2012 Ford Focus ST employs a variety of technologies to increase the car’s agility without sacrificing ride quality. As managing torque steer on a front-drive chassis always represents a challenge, Ford addresses this with its new Torque Steer Compensation System. Rather than limiting torque to the front wheels, the TSC works in concert with the car’s electric-assist power steering (EPAS) to counteract torque steer. The EPAS system has also been tuned to provide ample feedback through its variable-ratio system in tight cornering while at the same time adding sufficient weighting for precise on-center control during high-speed cruising.
The Focus ST also has electronic stability control with three modes: standard, reduced or wide-slip mode, and off. The car is also equipped with Enhanced Torque Vectoring Control, which is independent of the Torque Steering Control system. This system applies the brakes to the inner wheel in cornering to reduce understeer in both power-on and power-off conditions.
Overall the suspension has been tuned using upgraded shock and spring settings, which help lower the ST’s ride height for a lower center of gravity and a more aggressive look The rear suspension has been revamped with new suspension knuckles, and there’s also a new anti-roll bar design.
Muscular Looks, Inside and Out
The Focus ST’s performance attributes are borne out by the car’s look. In addition to being lower, the car has a muscular look thanks to meaty 18-in. Goodyear Eagle F1 Asymmetric 2 tires mounted on alloy rims. The car also features a new one-piece trapezoidal grille opening, side skirts, rear diffuser vents and a roof spoiler. The ST will be available in a new color, Tangerine Scream, along with more traditional Performance Blue, Race Red and White.
Inside, the cabin is fitted with Recaro sport seats, specially designed pedals, a sport steering wheel and gearshift. Sculpted rear bench seats use extra padding to give the rear passengers additional support.
In Europe, this Focus will be launched in three trim levels: ST1, ST2 and ST3. Sales in the U.S. are expected as early as next summer.