2019 Ford Focus ST gets 280hp and eLSD

So this is it. No more spy shots, leaks or rumours; Ford has fully unveiled the new Focus ST and there's quite a lot to get through, so let's dive straight in.

As expected, power comes from a turbocharged 2.3-litre petrol engine, the same unit found under the bonnet of the Ecoboost Mustang and, in uprated format, the last generation Focus RS. In those applications it delivers 320hp and 350hp respectively, although here it will be pared back to a still-respectable 280hp at 5,500rpm and 310lb ft between 3,000 - 4,000rpm. Also available will be a 2.0-litre diesel motor; the most powerful ever dropped into a Focus, it'll produce 190hp at 3,500rpm and 295lb ft between 2,000 - 3,000rpm.

In both cases, drive will be sent to the front axle exclusively via a choice of a six-speed manual or - at long last, some would argue - a seven-speed automatic transmission. In the case of the petrol version, it'll make its way through an electronic limited-slip diff, too - the first time Ford has fitted such a device to a front-wheel drive vehicle. The short-shifting manual will be available with rev-matching as well, as will the auto, just one of many technological innovations Ford is bringing (for better or worse) to the ST.

Most noteworthy among them are selectable Drive Modes, another function not previously offered on Ford's hot hatch and indicative of the fact that the ST now gets a good deal more kit which is adjustable at the flick of a switch. That new eLSD is a good example: using a suite of sensors it preemptively adjusts torque distribution, rather than simply responding to wheelspin as it occurs, and can redistribute up to 100 per cent of available torque to whichever wheel has most traction.

Predictably, the diesel version has to make do with 'Torque Vectoring Control', which simply applies the brakes individually to the inside wheels during cornering. On top of that, Ford GT-based Anti-Lag, Adaptive Cruise Control, Active Park Assist 2 and a Head-Up Display will all be among the options when the ST goes on sale this summer.

There'll be a Performance Pack, too, which includes Launch Control, rev-matching, a shift light, Track Mode (on top of the standard Wet, Normal and Sport modes) and Ford's Continuously Controlled Damping - which monitors the suspension, body, steering and braking inputs every two milliseconds to adjust damping responses.

Mechanical features include a new exhaust system which reduces back pressure, a bespoke air intake and an optimised intercooler. There are larger front and rear brakes which apparently boast nearly four-times the fade resistance of the previous generation, while the ride height has been lowered by 10mm and damping stiffness is increased by 20 per cent at the front and 13 per cent at the rear. Estate models also receive unique suspension geometry to help them "remain nimble and responsive even when fully loaded."

The new ST also boasts 15 per cent faster steering than the standard Focus, with just two turns lock-to-lock, while bespoke Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tyres ought to provide sufficient grip to match that agility. To prevent you being thrown across the cabin the interior features some rather smart Recaro sports seats, along with a flat-bottomed wheel with dedicated 'Mode' and 'Sport' buttons. Expect to find Ford's latest SYNC 3 infotainment system plumbed in as well, which includes Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility for free.

As we already knew, the car will be available in five-door hatch and estate body styles at launch, with no two-door variant planned. If that and the fairly plain looks leave you a little cold, then Ford will hope paint colours including Ford Performance Blue, Orange Fury, Frozen White and Race Red might help. Those can be paired with alloy wheel options like the 18-inch 'Dark Sparkle' and 19-inch 'Magnetite' designs.

Naturally we'll have to wait and see how all this translates onto the road, but for now it seems like Ford has built precisely the ST it needed to - i.e. one with sufficient power to directly rival the latest Renault Megane R.S. and Hyundai i30 N Performance. Adaptive dampers and that sophisticated differential - not to mention a 0-62mph time of "less than six seconds" - suggests that its ambitions for class-leading status are no less serious than they were for the peerless Fiesta ST. If it replicates that car's calibre, we're in for some treat.

P.H. O'meter

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Comments (151) Join the discussion on the forum

  • mrclav 18 Feb 2019

    I think this car is going to be a belter to drive. I actually like the way it looks too although (I'm not personally in the market for one).

  • Andy665 18 Feb 2019

    All the right ingredients and looks good too - based on reviews of the new Focus I would be surprised if it did not drive extremely well

  • Big Robbo 18 Feb 2019

    Have they given any indication of the prices? Will there be varients similar to the fiesta at?
    So far the only negative is ford are perservereing with that God awful "performance blue"

  • DaveTheRave87 18 Feb 2019

    I like the look of that, especially in the blue. It should go well too, if it lives up to that description.

  • JP.Racing 18 Feb 2019

    The fact you can spec a Fiesta ST to around £24k, I'd imagine it'll be pricey. Then saying that, the last RS started at just shy of £30k on release. So smack bang in the middle for a semi-decent spec one?!

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