If you want a new fast Ford Focus your options are rather limited at the moment because, while a few unsold previous-generation ST’s are still kicking around UK dealers, there’s still no performance version of the Mk4 hatch yet. But don’t fret, because new spy pictures suggest that the next Focus ST is now at an advanced stage of development – and word on the street is it’ll come with a hefty power boost and lighter structure in a bid to take on fresh-faced rivals like the Hyundai i30 N and Renault Sport Megane 280.
The most significant change from the PH perspective will be the introduction of Ford’s 2.3-litre EcoBoost engine, the use of which will buck the industry trend for downsizing. You might have thought a more potent version of the 1.5-litre three-pot motor of the latest Fiesta ST would have been a likely candidate for the new car. But Ford is reportedly using the 2.3, which will be related to but technically different to the aluminium lump of the Focus RS, because it’ll be fairly under stressed in the ST and so actually represents a pretty clean and economical option.
The good news for us is that it also means the new car will have quite a bit more muscle than the outgoing, 250hp turbocharged 2.0-litre ST. Expect an output to rival its aforementioned rivals, so something in the region of 275hp seems likely, while torque should be up to around the 300lb ft mark. This will be Ford’s last non-electrified hot Focus model because, as reported by Autocar, the following generation will use mild hybrid power. So you’re actually looking at the final chapter in pure combustion ST Foci. End of an era.
When the Mk4 Focus-based ST lands in the spring next year, it’ll also benefit from the latest hatchback’s architecture, which is 88kg lighter than the old car’s skeleton. So it’s fair to assume a slight reduction on that car’s 1437kg kerbweight. The new structure is also 20% more rigid with a 50% improvement around the suspension elements, so the engineers ought to have improved the ride and handling - much like they did with the new Fiesta ST.
Elsewhere, one of the biggest improvements will be the use of the latest Ford interior architecture, which makes massive strides forward over the previous car’s cabin and gives the whole model a welcome shove up the backside, in terms of perceived build quality. Despite this, it’s likely the Focus ST will remain among the cheapest in its class with a starting price of just over £26,000. Ford will be hoping that makes Hyundai and Renault Sport’s alternatives look a little pricey by comparison…