2019 Ford Focus ST spy shots

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Ford engineers have been caught testing a new Focus ST hot hatch at the Nürburgring. It's set for a reveal early next year.

Ford unveiled a redesigned Focus in April, but the only variant of the popular compact we'll see in the United States will be a soft-roader called the Focus Active (shown below). It's expected here in the fall of 2019 as a 2020 model, and will likely be sourced from a plant in China.

That means other variants like the regular hatch and sedan plus this Focus ST won't make it here. The reason? Ford sees the shift toward utility-type vehicles such as SUVs, pickup trucks and commercial vans in North America as permanent. It's why the automaker's only passenger cars on sale here beyond 2020 will be the Focus Active and Mustang.

2020 Ford Focus Active

2020 Ford Focus Active

That's a shame because the new Focus ST is shaping up to be a significant improvement on the current model, which is already one of the best cars in the segment.

Underpinning the car is Ford's next-generation front-wheel-drive platform. In the new Focus, the chassis and suspension design ups torsional rigidity by 20 percent compared to the outgoing model, and this bodes well for the upcoming ST variant's ride and handling.

All versions of the new Focus receive a color touchscreen at the top of the dash and Ford's Co-Pilot360 suite of electronic driver aids. In the ST, expect some special extras like Recaro front seats, ST badging, and perhaps additional performance options for the driving modes selector.

2019 Ford Focus

2019 Ford Focus

It isn't clear what the powertrain will be. We last heard the car will receive a 2.3-liter turbocharged inline-4 related to the engine found in the outgoing Focus RS. The RS's engine can safely be tuned to as much as 370 horsepower but for the new ST it will be detuned to something closer to the outgoing model's 252 hp because drive will be to the front wheels only. A six-speed manual is expected to be the sole transmission.

But if the ST gets a similar engine to the outgoing RS, what will power the next generation of the Focus flagship? We hear the car will receive a hybrid powertrain with as much as 400 hp.

Stay tuned for updates as development continues.

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