The covers finally came off the production version of the dramatic new Focus ST five-door at the 2011 Frankfurt Motor Show, revealing the performance car that enthusiasts around the globe are waiting for.
European customers can also choose a stylish wagon version of the Focus ST, which will launch alongside the five-door model in 2012.
The Focus ST is Ford's first truly global performance car, building on the heritage of previous Focus ST models in Europe and evolving it to allow drivers around the world to experience and enjoy the exhilarating performance, unrivaled handling, addictive sound and muscular sports design that the ST badge represents.
With innovative design and technology throughout, the new Focus ST will be more powerful and surprisingly fuel efficient, raising the bar once again when it comes to handling too. For drivers who want refinement for everyday use but with exhilarating performance on tap, the passion, enthusiasm and expertise of Ford's Global Performance Vehicles group shines through and makes the new Focus ST the most rewarding and obvious choice.
"The new Focus ST is a really exciting car for Ford," said Jost Capito, director of Global Performance Vehicles. "It's the first performance model to build upon the design and technology strengths of one of our new global production vehicles. It's a car built for driving enthusiasts all around the world and they will not be disappointed."
The Ford ST Global DNA
Beneath the skin of the new Focus ST is a detailed DNA for the ST range, established in Ford's exciting global performance car strategy. Working together, the Global Performance Vehicles group - made up of Ford Team RS in Europe and the Special Vehicles Team (SVT) in the United States, along with input from Ford experts in the Asia Pacific and Africa region - devised a strategy that all future global performance Ford cars will adhere to.
"Focus ST hasn't come around by chance," said Capito. "What came first was our global performance strategy, which has been developed with North America, Europe and Asia together. With this, the core DNA attributes like the steering, driving dynamics, the sound quality and the power enhancements for all ST models have all been defined to the extent that our engineers can take that global DNA fingerprint and use it to create the new Focus ST."
Like all future ST models, the new Focus ST has key physical DNA attributes like the aggressively enhanced front and rear bumpers, the addition of a rear spoiler and sideskirts plus a unique signature colour.
In both five-door and wagon form, the scintillating Focus ST delivers the same driving attributes that makes all Ford 'Sports Technologies' models stand out amongst the competition. The chassis, engine, sound and comfort of the vehicle are tuned harmoniously to deliver a truly sporty experience with a level of refinement rarely seen in this sector of vehicle. These same attributes will form the genetic code for future models bearing the ST badge.
Ford's First Global Performance Car
The One Ford approach to working together across geographic boundaries has already seen successful global launches of the Fiesta and new Focus for the company. This approach is the great enabler for performance versions to be readily developed for a global market.
"The new Focus is a fantastic car to develop an ST model from," said Matthias Tonn, chief program engineer for the Focus ST. "It's a solid shell with precise handling as standard, as customers around the world have already found out. It doesn't compromise on any area in any region of the world, and Focus ST builds upon that strength to give our global performance customers the car they want, the car they have been asking for."
According to Capito and Tonn, performance vehicle customers around the world desire the same things from a car no matter on what types of road or in what weather conditions they drive. This is the insight that Ford's Global Performance Vehicles group gained and it forms the guiding principles for the company's global performance car strategy.
Destined to reach over 40 markets on six continents, the five-door Focus ST will bring affordable, everyday performance to the world. Only the smallest changes - to meet with regional legislation - will be implemented. In effect, no matter where in the world a driver gets behind the wheel, the new Focus ST five-door will deliver the same sensation of power, poise and refinement as for anybody else across the globe.
For Europe, where wagon derivatives are extremely popular in many markets, the opportunity to develop a stylish Ford Focus ST Wagon as a niche model was irresistible.
"We know many European buyers favour the carrying capacity of a wagon, but still want the driving excitement and performance a five-door can offer," said Tonn. "With such a stylish wagon in the new Focus range, we had the ideal basis on which to create a unique niche model for these customers - and it will be just as exciting to drive as the five-door."
More Power and Economy
For global customers, Focus ST is powered by the 2.0-litre Ford EcoBoost engine, which offers an uncompromising mix of performance and efficiency. Ford's lightweight, all-aluminum EcoBoost engines provide the power of a larger engine in a fuel-efficient smaller displacement, utilising three key technologies.
High pressure direct injection, low-inertia turbocharging and Twin-independent Variable Cam Timing (Ti-VCT) all help to create an advanced combustion system which brings new levels of performance and fuel efficiency to Ford's petrol engines.
Ford's Global Performance Vehicles group has taken this technology and developed a 250PS high-output derivative of the 2.0-litre Ford EcoBoost engine for Focus ST.
Redesigned intake and exhaust systems with unique engine calibration deliver the ideal level of power and responsiveness.
The engine has a maximum output of 250PS and strong torque levels in a broad, flat torque curve peaking at 360Nm. The responsive torque output, a trademark of Ford EcoBoost engines, is maintained despite the impressive peak figures.
Compared to the 2.5-litre, 5-cylinder engine in the previous-generation European Focus ST, the new 4-cylinder engine offers increased performance, but its smaller capacity and innovative technology also allow it to be more fuel efficient.
The EcoBoost 2.0 in the Focus ST is expected to cut both CO2 emissions and fuel consumption by more than 20 per cent from the previous-generation European model when fuel consumption data is certified.
"This is the first time we have used a 4-cylinder Ford EcoBoost engine in a high performance model and the results are phenomenal," said Capito. "Drivers will have a lot of power and torque throughout the rev range to use. For everyday driving, though, the characteristics of this car will let them drive in a more fuel efficient way than previously, which is an essential part of the ST's DNA."
Mated to the 2.0-litre engine is a 6-speed manual transmission, which has specially revised gearing to produce the maximum punch from each throw of the gear shift. The Global Performance Vehicles group spent significant attention to detail to ensure the ratio of sixth gear was perfectly in tune with the Focus ST, giving the driver optimum performance while remaining long enough to help maintain excellent fuel economy on longer runs.
The previous generation Focus ST was acclaimed for its particularly sporty 5-cylinder engine sound. With the introduction of a 4-cylinder Ford EcoBoost engine into the new Focus ST, the Ford sound engineers were keen to ensure the audible delights from this totally different engine keep enthusiasts just as excited.
A significant part of this process is the reworking of the famed sound symposer, first found on the previous Focus ST and subsequently employed to devastating effect on the previous generation European Focus RS and RS500 models.
"People loved the sound of the previous Focus ST," said Capito. "The physics and acoustics of a 5-cylinder engine compared to a 4-cylinder are very different, but like Beethoven and Mozart - both of whom created fantastic yet very different music - we believe the engine note of the new Focus ST will delight enthusiasts in the same way."
It's not only the engine note that sounds fantastic on the new Focus ST. The exhaust system - with unique centre exit tailpipes - has been tuned to deliver a perfectly balanced audible experience. Enthusiastic drivers will be rewarded with an orchestra of sporty sounds to heighten their driving adventure, but should they want a more relaxing drive, the refinement of the cabin and tuning of exhaust and engine note will give them exactly that at lower RPM.
Unprecedented Driving Dynamics
Incredible driving dynamics are at the heart of the Focus ST. Innovation and technology combine to create a chassis capable of exceeding the expectations of even the most demanding driving enthusiast, while giving even novice motorists an unforgettable drive.
From the driver's seat, customers will experience the newly-developed Ford Sport Steering System. This variable ratio steering rack is designed to increase the agility of the Focus ST on winding roads yet still inspire the same high-speed confidence.
The unique system makes steering less sensitive when driving in a straight line, but increases the sensitivity during cornering. Drivers can keep their hands firmly gripped on the steering wheel through tight hairpins, maximising their control over the vehicle. It also has benefits in slow-speed situations such as tight parking manoeuvres, with less input needed from the driver to direct the vehicle into the space.
The Focus ST's Electronic Power Assisted Steering (EPAS) is also enhanced with Ford's Torque Steer Compensation (TSC) system.
More aggressive tuning of the TSC allows Focus ST drivers to accelerate at full throttle and yet still find grip on roads with uneven surfaces or uneven levels of grip. The TSC system detects the torque steer that those conditions can create and communicates with the EPAS software, which then counteracts the effect to virtually eliminate the sensation for the driver.
Further enhancements have also been made to the Focus ST's Electronic Stability Programme (ESP), with emphasis put on driver enjoyment. Drivers will have three modes of ESP to choose from. These can be selected according to weather and road conditions or simply to match the driver's desire for help from additional driving aids.
In the first instance the ESP works much the same way as the innovative system found in the base model Focus, although for the ST it is tuned to be non-intrusive to the driver. This standard mode supports the driver on all surfaces, whether dry, wet or snowy, giving them the confidence to drive safely no matter what the weather.
The driver can opt to select the second mode, called reduced or wide-slip mode, in which the traction control is turned off. Traction is handled by the driver here, while the ESP is programmed to intrude only as absolutely necessary.
Of course, the ESP system can also be switched off completely resulting in the Focus ST in its purest form, giving full control of the sublime chassis to the driver when is a position to exploit it, such as on a race track. Only the sub-features such as the Enhanced Dynamic Cornering Control (EDCC) remain active, optimising the enjoyment of the Focus ST's abilities.
Enhanced Torque Vectoring Control
Through the corners, Enhanced Torque Vectoring Control is an essential help for Focus ST drivers, a tuned version of the Torque Vectoring Control found in the base model Focus. The standard system uses torque vectoring by braking, in which brake torque is applied to the inner wheel of the Focus through a corner, reducing the understeer behaviour and allowing for more traction, much like a traditional limited slip differential.
The Focus ST system applies this more aggressively and also adds Cornering Under Steer Control (CUSC), which applies torque to create yaw torque based on the vehicle's understeer behavior prior to ESP, both in power-on and power-off conditions. Combined, they ensure that Enhanced Torque Vectoring Control is a crucial element in helping the front-wheel-drive Focus ST be a true driver's machine, able to tackle any corner with supreme confidence.
Working in harmony with the advanced driver assistance features is the finely tuned suspension setup of the new Focus ST. Uprated shock absorbers and springs lower the ST chassis by 10mm for a more aggressive stance while the centre of gravity is brought closer to the road, which aids precise cornering.
The rear suspension has been revised with a number of new parts developed specifically for the Focus ST. Key components are the uprated suspension knuckles and an all-new anti-roll bar design, both the result of the development team's desire to give drivers an outstanding amount of feedback and control.
The rear suspension of the five-door and the wagon versions of Focus ST differ slightly. The wagon features angled shock absorbers - as in the base model - to maintain the optimum amount of capacity in the luggage compartment.
Ultimately, both Focus ST bodystyles offer the same handling characteristics that will have drivers searching out twisty roads.
Iconic Alloy Wheels
The iconic Y-shaped spoke design of the previous generation Focus ST has evolved for the new incarnation. A set of 18-inch alloy wheels carry on the recognised Focus ST style but subtle revisions bring them up-to-date for 2012.
ST customers will now have an additional 'Performance Pack' option which offers the wheels in black with a high contrast red finish on the performance brake calipers.
Wrapped around the alloy wheels are high performance 235/40R18 Goodyear Eagle F1 Asymmetric 2 tyres, developed after rigorous testing on all kind of road surfaces and conditions, including the infamous NÃ¼rburgring Nordschleife in Germany.
"The same tyres will be offered on the Focus ST in every country," said Tonn. "They are designed to extract the best performance from the car on all road conditions. They don't compromise on performance and get the best out of the chassis and driver systems of the vehicle."
Bold and Muscular Outside
Globally the new Focus ST will be available in five-door hatchback bodystyle with European markets also able to order the newly-revealed wagon version. Both models build on the striking kinetic design of the standard Focus, yet add the muscular presence and specific performance cues associated with a Ford ST model.
The performance intent of the Focus ST is evident even from a glance. The new signature production colour, Tangerine Scream, reflects the exciting and energetic character of the Focus ST, but even in the other available colours - Performance Blue, Race Red and White - the car will shout performance. This is emphasised by the bold and muscular styling of the Focus ST.
"The changes we have made to deliver superior aerodynamics and vehicle performance have made the new Focus ST even more sporty and distinctive," explained Martin Smith, executive design director, Ford of Europe. "Exciting new design treatments at the front and rear give the ST a more dynamic and purposeful character, making it very clear this is definitely a sporting Focus."
From the striking one-piece design interpretation of Ford's signature trapezoidal grille at the front, through the sculpted side skirts and the dynamic rear bumper with prominent diffuser-style vents in the lower fascia, the Focus ST's design adds aggression and aerodynamic stability compared to the base models.
Drivers following the Focus ST will notice the highly effective roof spoiler on both models, optimised to deliver improved high-speed stability and reduced drag. They will also witness the unique centre-exit exhaust with a stunning tailpipe design influenced by the exclusive hexagonal mesh of the front bumper.
Around the world, the sporty design of the Focus ST will leave other drivers in no doubt that they are seeing something that boasts incredible performance beneath that impressive metal.
Stylish and Sporty Inside
The exhilarating drive of the new Focus ST will have customers spending as much time behind the steering wheel as possible. With that in mind, Ford's designers have worked hard to ensure the interior of the Focus ST is a great place to be, helping the driver to feel as connected to the vehicle as possible.
The interior of the core Focus model is already designed with a "cockpit" feel, giving any Focus driver a sporty sensation. In the ST variant, though, that sporty feeling is heightened with everything the driver touches and feels reinforcing that it is unmistakably an ST.
Details range from specially designed pedals, steering wheel and gearshift to the unique Recaro seats. The darker headlining and trim on the pillars, an integral part of the ST's design DNA, adds to the performance driving feel.
With the seats, Ford worked closely with Recaro to give ST customers the ultimate in comfort and support. The seats will not only hold the driver in place tightly during spirited driving, but will offer exclusive premium features like cushion tilt, plus length adjustment which is a unique option in this class of vehicle. A lower seating position has also been achieved to give drivers improved ergonomics and the perfect place from where to exploit the ST's performance.
Rear seat passengers aren't forgotten. An all-new rear bench has been developed for the ST, sculpted using special foam. This will help rear passengers feel as secure as those passengers in the front, highlighting not only the sporting intentions of Focus ST but also the practical considerations that are part of its core DNA.
New Focus ST will be offered to European customers in three distinct trim options - ST1, ST2 and ST3. This approach is already familiar to owners of the previous Focus ST in the UK.
While precise details of feature availability for each trim option will vary by market, ST1 is the standard model, offering the key features like cloth Recaro seats, keyless start, front door scuff plates with ST logo and standard ST rear bench with centre armrest.
Focus ST2 builds on this with the addition of partial leather Recaro seats and dual zone Electronic Automatic Temperature Control (EATC). For right-hand drive markets, ST2 will also include unique ST floor mats, automatic headlamp control, auto-dimming rear view mirror and automatic wipers, features that are standard on left-hand drive ST1 models.
The top spec Focus ST3 increases the features with the inclusion of those exclusive heated leather Recaro seats with 8-way adjustability and pull out cushion, plus the newly developed Recaro rear bench. ST3 customers also benefit from Bi-Xenon headlamps to keep the road ahead in total clarity throughout the night.