Year Make Model: 2019 Ford Focus ST.
Topline: Ford's hot hatch is back to instill fear into the likes of the Volkswagen Golf GTI TCR and Hyundai i30 N. Sporting a more robust powertrain and refined drivetrain, the Focus ST is ready to rear its head into the European market for 2019 with a brand new look and feel.
What’s New: First and foremost, the new ST offers a significant power increase for its gasoline-powered engine. As predicted, the ST will use a detuned version of the 2.3-liter turbocharged four-cylinder offered in the Focus RS. The result is a free-revving platform pumping out 276 horsepower and 310 pound-feet of torque, which is a modest 12-percent increase in power from previous generations.
Die-hard diesel fans will also receive some love from Ford with an optional 2.0-liter EcoBlue diesel engine. Choosing the coal-rolling route will provide drivers with 190 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of near-instant torque.
The ST remains front wheel drive so as not to compete with its big brother, the Focus RS. A six-speed transmission remains standard equipment, albeit fitted with a throw shift that's 7 percent shorter. Equipping an optional performance package will equip the Focus ST with the ability to make sharp downshift using the same precise rev-matching technology found in the Mustang. Ford will also introduce an all-new seven-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters for drivers who prefer a clutchless experience.
If you've ever driven a Focus ST before, one immediate takeaway from mashing the gas pedal is the car's ability to spin tires and deliver torque-steer from a dig. The engineers at Ford have decided to combat this by equipping the newest generation ST with an electronic Limited Slip Differential (eLSD). Using a series of hydraulically actuated clutches, the eLSD can intelligently limit the power delivered to a slipping wheel in order to regain traction and provide optimal handling.
With the bump in power and improvement to its delivery, Ford says that sprinting from zero to 60 will take less than six seconds.
Quotable: “The EcoBoost petrol and EcoBlue diesel powertrains have unique characters, but are equally charismatic,” said Leo Roeks, Performance director of Ford Europe. “The Focus ST’s sporty ‘pops and bangs’ soundtrack perfectly matches the car’s feisty performance and is an essential part of the ST experience.”
What You Need to Know: Performance aside, the Focus ST is a sharp looking hot hatch. The newest generation does not disappoint in this aspect, as defined lines and European-inspired aero bits make the ST impossible to miss while still offering the practicality of an everyday, practical hatchback.
Ford will also ensure that customers requiring a bit more space can still enjoy ST treatment. Similar to the Focus Active, the Focus ST will be offered on an optional stretched wheelbase to offer a spot in the wagon class in addition to its traditional hot hatch appeal.
Moreover, Ford has retained certain key features that made the ST unique. The layout of its interior and flat-bottom steering wheel feel extremely familiar to owners of previous models, while other pleasing aesthetic changes to the interior of the car make it look much more modern. The bolstered seats appear to be slightly more accommodating than previous-generation Recaros, and the choice to use a pop-out, tablet-sized display screams "I'm hip!"
If there's one thing that Ford has done a good job with this car, it's making it feel like a proper successor to the previous generation Focus ST. It's clear that this new ST inherited the good looks of its parents; hopefully, it has a hint of their driving characteristics too.