FORD has raised the flag on its rocketing new flagship Focus ST which is even speedier than the iconic last generation Focus RS – with both five-door hatch and estate versions good for 155mph.
That is with the all-new 280PS Focus ST 2.3-litre petrol EcoBoost twin turbo with six-speed manual gear change, a model priced at a fiver under £32,000 for the hatch which is making its public debut at Goodwood Festival of Speed (#FOS) this weekend – the perfect setting to show off its launch control.
The latest evolution sees 12% more power and 12% increase in speed against its predecessor which had 30PS less power.
Delivering faster in-gear acceleration than the previous generation Focus RS – and no sign of a replacement for that – the petrol ST cracks 0-62mph in just 5.7sec, while the estate loiters just a tenth of a second slower.
Sophisticated technologies including twin-scroll turbocharging with Ford GT inspired anti-lag, flat-shift capability and Launch Control boost performance off-the-line and on the move.
Driving dynamics are optimised using intelligent electronic limited-slip differential and continuously controlled damping while an electric brake booster supports ultimate stopping power.
For ‘hot hatches’ the combined economy of both body variants comes in at an impressive 35.8mpg under the tough new WLTP emission testing.
In the flagship 2.3 version, twin-scroll turbocharging technology contributes to segment-leading peak torque of 420Nm for immediate response to throttle inputs, and an innovative anti-lag system enables rapid delivery of boost on demand.
Technological advances include selectable drive modes for the first time in an ST, with adjustable features including throttle mapping and fastest responding Ford electric power-assisted steering to match performance.
But the diesel option lives on with the lower-priced 190PS 2.0-litre EcoBlue diesel variant – the most powerful diesel engine ever offered for a Ford Focus – delivering up to 58.8mpg and 125g/km CO2 emissions.
The Ecoblue diesel delivers peak power at 3,500rpm and 400Nm of torque between 2,000rpm and 3,000rpm – and 360Nm from 1,500rpm – for immediate acceleration. Acceleration from 0-62mph takes 7.6 seconds for the five-door model, a tenth of a second slower for the estate, with both capable of 136mph.
Whatever the powertrain choice, comfort and driving experience are optimised with Recaro sports seats and an advanced independent rear suspension configuration.
Leo Roeks, Ford Performance director, Europe, says: “The all-new Focus ST is about more than just straight-line speed, but the ability to go toe-to-toe with the now legendary Focus RS over a quarter-mile sprint shows just how much the Ford Performance team has moved the game on in the last four years.
“We’ve drawn inspiration from the Ford GT supercar, F‑150 Raptor pick-up, Ford Mustang and Fiesta ST to develop a Focus ST capable of punching you in the back the moment you hit the throttle.”
The Focus ST 2.3-litre EcoBoost’s low-inertia twin-scroll turbocharger scavenges exhaust gases more effectively to optimise the energy transferred into the turbine wheel – producing more power and delivering boost pressure faster.
Separated exhaust channels transfer the gas pulses from cylinders one and four, and two and three – minimising pulse interference for a consistent flow of energy.
Anti-lag technology can electronically hold the throttle open for up to three seconds after the driver backs off the accelerator, alleviating the reversal of airflow from the turbocharger to maintain turbo compressor wheel speed.
By keeping the turbocharger primed for immediate response and maintaining positive pressure in the intake manifold when off throttle, the innovative technology allows faster resumption of both boost pressure and optimised combustion when the driver returns to the accelerator.
In addition, an electronically actuated turbocharger waste-gate allows closer control of boost pressures for enhanced engine performance.
Flat-shift capability can also help deliver ultimate standing start acceleration by automatically emulating anti-lag and holding the throttle open as the driver disengages the clutch to shift up through the short-throw, six-speed manual gearbox – maximising turbocharger response.
A gear-shift indicator light, available with the optional Performance Pack, lets drivers know the optimal point to change gears, and launch control can be engaged to maximise grip off the line for consistently fast standing starts at track days.
The all-new Focus ST’s straight-line speed is matched by its cornering ability, optimised using Ford’s first electronic limited-slip differential for a front-wheel drive model.
Incorporated into the six-speed manual and the seven-speed automatic transmissions to follow for 2.3-litre EcoBoost models, the system uses hydraulically activated clutches to redistribute up to 100% of available engine torque to the wheel with more traction to counteract wheelspin.
The result is increased agility and a significant reduction in understeer during acceleration through, and out of, corners.
Faster to deploy and offering greater precision than a traditional mechanical limited-slip differential the system can pre-emptively adjust torque distribution using inputs from powertrain and vehicle dynamics sensors, and can apply differential locking gradually for fine-tuning performance.
In addition, Focus ST five-door models feature Continuously Controlled Damping technology that monitors suspension, body, steering and braking inputs every two milliseconds to adjust damping responses for optimised ride quality and driving dynamics.
The system features three pre-set levels of damping to support the Focus ST’s Selectable Drive Modes; one for Slippery/Wet and Normal modes; one for Sport mode; and another – delivering up to twice the vertical load resistance of Sport mode – for Track mode.
The Focus ST also delivers greater stopping power than even the previous generation Focus RS, with 330mm front discs and front callipers each housing two 44mm diameter pistons.
The braking system provides a more connected, confident and consistent pedal feel supported by a sophisticated Electric Brake Booster that builds brake pressure faster and, in Track mode, can further optimise stopping performance in braking scenarios developing 0.7g‑force or more.
The all-new Focus ST is available to order from launch in five-door and estate body styles offering 280PS 2.3-litre EcoBoost petrol and 190PS 2.0-litre EcoBlue diesel powertrains with six-speed manual transmissions.
Versions of the five-door and estate 2.3-litre EcoBoost with the seven-speed automatic will also be introduced from the autumn.