Brentwood, England - Ford has pulled the covers off the hotly anticipated, new-generation Focus ST and you could say that it's a 'baby RS' at heart.

As expected, the new ST inherits a detuned version of the 2.3-litre, four-cylinder EcoBoost turbopetrol engine found in the previous Focus RS as well as the Mustang.

In Focus ST guise, the motor produces 206kW at 5500rpm and 420Nm from 3000 revs (up from the current 2-litre car’s 184kW and 360Nm) and Ford is promising a 0-100km/h sprint in under six seconds.

Certain markets will also get a diesel option in the form of Ford’s 2-litre EcoBlue oil burner, tuned to 140kW and 400Nm.

Power goes to the front wheels through either a six-speed manual gearbox, with rev-matching technology on cars equipped with the optional Performance Pack, or a new seven-speed automatic.

Ford’s engineers have worked hard to ensure all that power is put down smoothly and as such the ST debuts with a new electronic limited slip differential. Mounted on the gearbox, the system can counteract wheel spin by redistributing up to 100 percent of the torque to the wheel with more traction.

Furthermore, new Steering Torque Disturbance Reduction software for the steering system aims to reduce torque steer.

Drivers can choose from three drive modes (Wet, Normal and Sport) while those opting for the Performance Pack also gain Track Drive Modes that, among other things, adjust the suspension through Ford’s Continuously Controlled Damping system, as well as steering and the e-diff.

“Selecting Track mode instantly makes braking response more direct and edgy; introduces higher steering efforts for more feedback; tunes the throttle to be more aggressive; instructs the eLSD to deliver maximum traction; and gives drivers more leeway within the ESC system,” says Ford Performance dynamics specialist David Put.

The soundtrack from the sports exhaust system is further amplified in Sport and Track modes; and these modes also activate an anti-lag setting that keeps the throttle open when the driver lifts off the pedal, thereby alleviating the reversal of air flow from the turbocharger, allowing the compressor wheel to maintain its speed.

In keeping with its status, the Focus ST gets unique exterior styling elements that include new front and rear bumpers, a large boot spoiler and unique 18-inch and 19-inch wheel designs, while the cabin is perked up with Ebony coloured Recaro front seats, a sports steering wheel, ST-embossed alloy gear knob and scuff plates and Metal Grey inlays on the dashboard and doors.

So when’s it coming? The Focus ST’s South African launch timing has yet to be confirmed, says Ford South Africa.

IOL Motoring