After showing the concept almost a year ago, the covers will finally came off the production version of the dramatic new Focus ST five-door at the Frankfurt Motor Show tomorrow.
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.
"The 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."
In both five-door and wagon form, the ST delivers the same driving attributes that makes all Ford 'Sports Technologies' models stand out. The chassis, engine, sound and comfort of the vehicle are tuned to deliver a sporty experience with a high level of refinement.
Destined to reach more than 40 markets on six continents, the five-door Focus ST will bring affordable, everyday performance to the world. Only the smallest changes - to meet 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 as for anybody across the globe.
For Europe, where wagon derivatives are extremely popular in many markets, the opportunity to develop a stylish ST Wagon as a niche model was irresistible.
"We know many European buyers favor the carrying capacity of a wagon, but still want the driving excitement and performance a five-door can offer," said Matthias Tonn, chief program engineer for the Focus ST. "With 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."
Focus ST is powered by the 2.0-liter aluminum EcoBoost engines utilising three key technologies. High pressure direct injection, low-inertia turbocharging and Twin-independent Variable Cam Timing (Ti-VCT) all create an advanced combustion system which brings new levels of performance and fuel efficiency to Ford's petrol engines.
Redesigned intake and exhaust systems with unique engine calibration deliver the ideal level of power and responsiveness. The engine has a maximum output of 250hp and strong torque levels in a broad, flat torque curve peaking at 265 lb-ft.
Compared to the 2.5-liter, 5-cylinder engine in the previous-generation European Focus ST, the new four-cylinder 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.
Mated to the engine is a six-speed manual transmission, which has specially revised gearing.
The previous generation Focus ST was acclaimed for its sporty five-cylinder engine note. With the introduction of a four-cylinder, Ford's sound engineers were keen to ensure the audible delights keep enthusiasts just as excited. A significant part of this process was reworking the sound symposer, first found on the previous Focus ST and subsequently employed 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 five-cylinder engine compared to a four-cylinder are very different, but 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 center exit tailpipes - has been tuned to deliver a perfectly balanced audible experience.
From the driver's seat, customers will experience the new 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 high-speed confidence.
The unique system makes steering less sensitive when driving in a straight line, but increases the sensitivity during cornering. It also has benefits in slow-speed situations such as tight parking maneuvers, 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 still find grip on roads with uneven surfaces or low 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.
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 behavior 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 a new sway 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 luggage capacity.
The iconic Y-spoke design of the previous generation Focus ST wheel has evolved for the new incarnation. A set of 18-inch wheels carry on the recognized style but subtle revisions bring them up to date.
ST customers will now have an additional 'Performance Pack' option which offers the wheels in black with red brake calipers.
Wrapped around the wheels are high performance 235/40 R18 Goodyear Eagle F1 Asymmetric 2 tires. "The same tires 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."
The performance intent of the Focus ST is evident at a glance. The new signature production color, Tangerine Scream, reflects the energetic character of the ST, but even in the other available colors - Performance Blue, Race Red and White - the car will shout performance. This is emphasized by the bold and muscular styling.
"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," said Martin Smith, executive design director, Ford of Europe.
From the one-piece design interpretation of Ford's trapezoidal grille, 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 compared to the base models.
Drivers following the Focus ST will notice the roof spoiler on both models, optimized to deliver improved high-speed stability and reduced drag.
The interior of the Focus is already designed with a "cockpit" feel, but in the ST the sporty feeling is heightened with details like the specially designed pedals, steering wheel and gearshift to the unique Recaro seats. The darker headlining adds to the performance 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 during spirited driving, but will offer features like cushion tilt, plus length adjustment. 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.