Ford Focus ST testing – Click above for high-res image gallery

We're looking forward to getting our hands on the ST variant of the Ford Focus, and why not? We Americans have had no choice but to sit back and watch while our overseas comrades got to have all the fun behind the wheel of high-performance Focii, which made the hot hatchbacks the forbidden fruit we tend to crave.

Ford promises that the U.S. will finally have a chance at the next-generation ST, which should supply at least 246 horsepower and 266 pound-feet of torque courtesy an EcoBoost 2.0-liter mill. The only problem is that the high-pot Focus ST is still a year away, but that doesn't mean we won't see test mules traveling the highways and test tracks around the world.

Ford tells us they have 60 ST models testing everywhere from California to Germany's Nürburgring. The testers may look like last-generation ST or more pedestrian current-gen Focus models, but the big wheels, low profile and double exhaust passes will show that the mules are anything but ordinary.

Matthias Tonn, who heads performance engineering at Ford of Europe, says that the testing is needed to make the next ST shine, adding that engineers are "fine-tuning, testing, and fine tuning again many of the small but critical details to make sure it is worthy of the ST badge."

And just because the ST will be a performance hatch doesn't mean Ford isn't keenly focused on fuel economy as well. Tonn says the goal is to produce class-leading fuel economy even with a performance variant. Mixing fuel efficiency and performance is no easy task, but Ford is banking on a thrifty EcoBoost engine and fuel-saving technology like a finely tuned Electric Power Assist Steering (EPAS) system to do the trick.

While the Focus ST is still a way away from production, Ford provided some "spy photos" of an ST mule during testing in Germany, which you can peruse in our high-res image gallery. Hit the jump to read over the Ford press release.
Show full PR text
New Ford Focus ST on Track: Prototype Testing Underway from California Freeways to German Nürburgring

• Development of Ford's sporty new Focus ST is on track as engineers put prototypes through punishing regime to hone performance and driving dynamics

• New 2.0-litre EcoBoost-powered Focus ST targets both 250 PS (246 hp) and impressive fuel economy

• Focus ST, Ford's first global performance car, goes on sale next year

COLOGNE, Germany, May 11, 2011 – If a new Ford Focus with an eye-catching paint job, ground-hugging suspension, big wheels and tyres and a tell-tale central rear double exhaust passes you on the autobahn or freeway, chances are you have seen one of the development prototypes for the all-new high-performance Focus ST launching next year.

In Europe and North America, Ford's Team RS and SVT engineering teams are putting a fleet of around 60 pre-production prototypes through a punishing regime of testing and development to fine-tune the car's driving dynamics and performance. The prototypes are based on standard new Focus vehicles and, in some cases, prior-generation Focus ST models.

"The new Focus ST is eagerly awaited around the world, which is appropriate as this is our first global performance model," said Jost Capito, Ford's director of Global Performance Vehicles. "It must live up to Ford's reputation for producing affordable yet exciting and sporty versions of its smaller cars that reward and delight enthusiast drivers, but can also be used every day.

"We've done all the engineering groundwork, and now we're using some of the most demanding roads we can find in Europe and North America to validate and fine tune the performance and driving dynamics."

The new Focus ST will be powered by a high-performance version of Ford's new 2.0-litre EcoBoost engine, targeting an exhilarating 250 PS (246 hp), while still delivering significantly better fuel economy than the previous generation Focus ST sold in Europe.

"Fuel efficiency is a key leadership target for Ford Motor Company globally. We want to be class-leading even with a performance vehicle, so we're working on getting the best possible blend of high performance and fuel economy from the new ST," said Matthias Tonn, chief program engineer, Global Performance Products, Ford of Europe.

Recently, the development team completed demanding cold weather testing in northern Europe, as well as exacting tests and exercises to refine steering performance.

"We're sweating all the details – fine-tuning, testing, and fine tuning again many of the small but critical details to make sure it is worthy of the ST badge," Tonn said. "We will build upon and improve the ride, steering and handling strengths that defined the current European Focus ST."

With the new Focus ST, a key focal point for the Ford development team is to deliver an even more engaging driver experience, from its highly tuned Electric Power Assist Steering (EPAS) system to uniq ue, driver-orientated seats.

"The seats and seating position were very good in the previous Focus ST, but the new model is sleeker and the driver will sit lower. The new seats which will provide even more support," Tonn said.

The all-new Focus ST is Ford's first global performance car, conceived under the One Ford strategy. It brings the ST performance badge to North American and Asian customers for the first time.

"For enthusiasts in North America and Asia who have asked why our compact performance models were not available to them, well, the wait is almost over," Capito said. "The new Focus ST will offer exactly the same exciting driving experience wherever it's on sale.

"Like the Focus ST and RS models before it, the new Focus ST's final set-up will be achieved after painstaking tuning on some of the most demanding roads we can find from California to the Nürburgring, and from high-speed German autobahns to classic British B-roads," Capito added. "Keep your eyes open for our prototypes as we work on delivering a Focus ST driving experience that will delight performance car fans around the world."

Fans of the new Focus ST can keep up to date with progress on the official Ford Focus Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/fordfocus.


I'm reporting this comment as:

Reported comments and users are reviewed by Autoblog staff 24 hours a day, seven days a week to determine whether they violate Community Guideline. Accounts are penalized for Community Guidelines violations and serious or repeated violations can lead to account termination.


    • 1 Second Ago
  • 49 Comments
      Gorgenapper
      • 3 Years Ago
      How is this ugly? It has an angry-mouth grille, the planted stance of a hatchback and the balls to back it up. I think it is one of the best looking hot hatches out there next to a 5 door GTI and all Gen 1 MS3s, followed by the WRX/STI, then any black 2010 MS3.
        Phontsolo
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Gorgenapper
        You know what looks better than a 5 door GTI? A 3 door R32.
      Hazdaz
      • 3 Years Ago
      I really like the regular Focus (inside and out) but I am not a fan of the styling tweaks done to the 2012 Focus ST which gives the front end of that car way too much of a fishy-look. I would actually prefer the regular car's body work, with the ST's drivetrain. If Ford releases this car with about 250 HP, that would be a perfect amount for a FWD car that can't step on the toes of its big brother the (base) Mustang. Also with Ford's new front-end suspension, torque steer should be (mostly) a non-issue even with that much power up front. It probably won't attract the guys that are into AWD sportcompacts like the WRX, but this could be a big hit with the tuning crowd overall.
      Abarthlyness
      • 3 Years Ago
      This car will be pretty spendy, but the enthusiast community "should" eat it up, if they can afford it. I know plenty of folk who are saving their pennies for when it is released. The performance should be top notch... it's just a little bit big for me, and my current direction... I'm going for smaller on my next purchase :evilgrin:
      A Pointy Rock
      • 3 Years Ago
      *stomps feet and has a tantrum* I want an RS!
      NightFlight
      • 3 Years Ago
      That's great news, and I hope that all 60 mules have a TRUE LSD and not some e-diff crap.
      TChan
      • 3 Years Ago
      it seems they've taken 'injecting testosterone' into cars to a whole new level with the camo here
      Eric Jacuzzi
      • 3 Years Ago
      I have to throw my hat in for the ugly vote, I am very disappointed in how this car actually looks in person vs. the pre-production images. It just looks overstyled from every angle, especially the tails and something about the two bars on the grille just don't work in person. That being said, I am sure it will be a hoot to drive though the Mk 6 has already stolen heart and wallet.
        anonymous guy
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Eric Jacuzzi
        And does EVERYTHING have to be a station wagon these days?
          flychinook
          • 3 Years Ago
          @anonymous guy
          I wish! Hatchbacks (like the above Focus) are finally gaining popularity in the US due to their increased usefulness. Station Wagons, on the other hand, are still far and few between. Apparently people would rather drive SUVs, which do the same thing but are worse in nearly every category.
          Shiftright
          • 3 Years Ago
          @anonymous guy
          Better than an overweight, oversized pickup used for hauling paper towels from Costco or a poser SUV
          Dr. Claw
          • 3 Years Ago
          @anonymous guy
          @flychinook -- RIGHT ON!! This Focus is NOT a station wagon, it is a 5-door hatchback. There's a difference. I'd like to someday see a 3-door Focus alongside the 5-door, but I'm glad to see Ford didn't slap the "ST" digs on a sedan (a body style wasted in the compact segment IMO). As flychinook said, the station wagon is nearing extinction in the USA, because drivers for some reason prefer CUVs and SUV, which are just ridiculous from a practicality aspect when compared to wagons. Though, they "look" better... that's about it. GLWTBS when fuel prices continue to soar!
          Redline
          • 3 Years Ago
          @anonymous guy
          ^^^ I love you guys.
        Eric Jacuzzi
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Eric Jacuzzi
        Oh, should mention that's general Focus looks, not ST specific.
          Shiftright
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Eric Jacuzzi
          I suspect you're in the minority, but to each his/her own.
        Carphanatik
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Eric Jacuzzi
        I'm not sure why you're getting downvoted so hard, I guess the trolls here don't understand that people have different opinions. I do disagree with you on the overall styling, but I'm with you on the grill comment though; it seems the front end would look better without the bars.
      Tom Cottage
      • 3 Years Ago
      If it is only FWD, I don't want it. :-( It's a shame for Ford. I'd rather take the Focus with AWD or an AWD RS Fiesta. True rally cars... Rallies currently don't win FWD!!!
        Redline
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Tom Cottage
        It competes with the Golf GTi, and they have to keep costs low as well. AWD Focus RS would be cool though.
        bobmarley
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Tom Cottage
        AWD would put the price over the top. I would like to see a tuned NA 2.0 with 200hp
      • 3 Years Ago
      [blocked]
      DrEvil
      • 3 Years Ago
      Ford: I have really mixed feelings about the Focus, specifically the US market Focus. Here's the problem, I saw the RS before I saw what you offering here. I cannot get past the styling of the garden-variety Foci's front facia, it's really weak. Not being a troll, this is how I honestly feel. After seeing the styling of the RS, this just doesn't fly. Have no other issues with the car.
        Phontsolo
        • 3 Years Ago
        @DrEvil
        I have to agree. Although i don't dislike the new design i liked the previous one more.
      Bob
      • 3 Years Ago
      I just hope they get around to offering the Fiesta ST. Ford shouldn't be like all the other cruel companies that believe that there's "too much of a good thing"
        Abarthlyness
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Bob
        Do you mean, you hope they offer the ST in NA? I'm pretty sure the Fiesta ST has been confirmed for Europe... As always, the other side of the pond gets the good stuff...
      Gr@y_F0XXX
      • 3 Years Ago
      I want this car so bad it's insane. I saw it at the Washington DC auto show in person and just fell in love with it.
    • Load More Comments