Autocar said Ford did consider the tiny 1.5L Dragon motor, but dismissed it "because the smaller engine would have to be run close to its reliable limit in this guise." Having the ST inherit the 2.3-liter four-cylinder from the RS offers a sane retirement plan for that motor, since the next-gen RS moves to a hybrid-assisted 2.0-liter four.
Our only question now concerns power. In the RS the 2.3-liter made 350 hp and 350 pound-feet of torque in the standard car, 370 hp and 376 lb-ft in the RS Race Red Edition. The current Focus ST makes 252 hp and 270 pound-feet of torque. If Ford drops the heat to "around 250 bhp" in the coming ST, that would leave the new ST level on ponies with the current ST, and create an even larger gap to the coming RS — the future hot hatch is expected to make around 400 hp with the help of its 48-volt electrical system and integrated starter-generator.
It's possible Ford wants to show how much more the new ST can do with the same power. The carmaker said the recently unveiled Focus weighs 176 pounds less when compared to the current car in the same spec. The new Focus is also 20 percent stiffer, with 50 percent more stiffness in the suspension elements. However, it seems more reasonable to think Ford will give the 2.3-liter a bump over the present 2.0-liter, perhaps giving credence to that recent report of 280 or 290 horsepower.
Given at least 280 hp, the Focus ST would keep well in the spec-sheet mix with rivals. The European competition tops out at around 270 hp. Over here, the coming Hyundai Veloster N is expected to get 275 hp, but the current, 201-hp Veloster Turbo weighs around 300 pounds less than the current Focus ST. The Volkswagen Golf GTI already does more with less, but the 2019 model is predicted to go from 220 hp to 250 hp and lose anywhere from 77 to 154 pounds. The Focus ST, going all-in as a driver's car, would be the only hatch among them to offer a six-speed manual as the sole transmission.
Ford's expected to show the 2020 ST at an event in March 2019, followed by a public reveal at the Geneva Motor Show. The new hatch should find its way into dealerships next summer.