Ford Focus ST is Go: 200+ kW, clever slippy diff

Ford Focus ST is Go: 200+ kW, clever slippy diff

The Ford Focus ST was one of the unruliest cars I’ve ever driven. It was all over the shop, but in a good way. I was convinced that the engine was a hologram and that under the bonnet was a bunch of toddlers fuelled up on Red Bull. You felt alive in this thing. Torque steer, a rush of power and very sharp steering. Delicious.

It kind of got forgotten, though. It didn’t have the character of the five-cylinder machine that preceded it and there’s been a wash of C-segment hot hatches in the last five years. The ST looked on forlornly while Hyundai, VW, Renault and Honda stole the headlines. To add insult to injury, the Focus RS elbowed it out of the way.

With the new Focus well and truly launched, the ST-Line was the one for enthusiasts. But, as sure as crashing follows Pastor Maldonado leaving the pits, the full-fat ST is here.

You’ll be parking your butt in a sweet set of Recaros and the new interior is streets ahead of the old one. You get Ford’s SYNC3 software with CarPlay and Android Auto,  digital instrumentation for Sport and Track modes and more room than the old car.

Your mates will know you’ve got an ST by the front and rear bumpers, honeycomb grille, ST badging and


The new 2.3-litre EcoBoost (ha!) produces 206kW (280PS) and 420Nm (available from 3000-4000rpm). That’s a lot of power for a front-wheel drive, but as Honda, Hyundai and others have proved, that’s perfectly fine. If you do it right…

And doing it right means fitting a limited slip diff. Ford’s answer is to pack what they call an eLSD into the transmission. Using a hydraulic clutch pack, it can apportion power up to 100 percent to each wheel to quell oversteer.

The electric power steering also has some software updates to help dampen torque steer. It will be interesting to see how successful that is and whether it reduces the fun of the old car. You really had to fight that bad boy.

A Performance Pack offers a few more goodies, including Track mode, rev-matching on the manual,

Those figures compare rather well with the old car, with a rise of 22kW (30PS) and a very healthy 60Nm increase in torque. Ford “anticipates” the new ST will clobber the 0-100km/h (0-62mph) sprint in “less than six seconds.” That’s right there with its obvious rivals.

All that power comes courtesy with help from what Ford claims are “learnings” (ugh) from the Ford GT project and the Focus RS. Electronic wastegate control provides fine-tuning of the turbo boost while the twin-scroll turbo does a better job of exhaust gas scavenging. The anti-lag system from the GT and F-150 Raptor activates in Sport and Track mode and keeps fuelling the engine to keep the turbo spinning when you lift off.

For the first time, the petrol ST will be available in both six-speed manual and seven-speed automatic.  The press release bangs on about adaptive shift scheduling and gear differentiation but there isn’t anything extraordinary to report.

Diesel ST Returns

Some markets also score a diesel ST, with a 2.0-litre ‘EcoBlue’ four-cylinder turbo-diesel good for 140kW (190PS) and 400Nm from 2000 to 300rpm. Happily, you’ve got 350Nm from 1500rpm. You miss out on the auto option though, and instead of the clever LSD of the petrol.


The new Focus ST starts with a lighter base platform, which is always good news. The ST-Line I drove last year was a good giggle, so that bodes well for the go-faster car.

Adaptive damping changes with every mode so it’s a bit more liveable day to day while a bit harder on the fun bits. Suspension is independent all-round, with the ST-Line’s multi-link rear-end along for the ride.

Ford’s engineers have put further work into the front geometry to help tame the power and perhaps eke a bit more life out of the standard Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tyres. There’s also some stuff about unique steering knuckle geometry, but they said that about the last one and it still wanted to tear your arms off.

The new front brakes are bigger at 330mm up front and 302mm at the back. Ford reckons the stoppers resist fade four times better than the ST. From memory (dim, dark memory) the brakes were a little prone to cooking.

Drive select is along, of course, and tightens everything up. Or, in the case of the stability and traction system, relaxes things. The optional Performance Pack throws in Race mode which makes things nice and loose for the track. Obviously.

When and How Much?

Ah, yes. European customers can have their ST fix in June 2019. Those of us in parts further-flung will have to wait until early 2020. Heck, we’re still waiting for the Fiesta ST! Pricing? Soon, precious, soon.