Over the next 12 to 18 months or so, we’re about to see two new hot hatches from Ford make their debut, the long-awaited ‘ST’ variants of the latest 2012 Ford Focus and Fiesta. While the Fiesta ST isn’t expected to bow in until late next year as a 2013 model, its bigger brother, the Focus ST, will be arriving in showrooms around the end of this year.

Though we already know what it will look like, as well as most of its specs, here is the latest prototype for the upcoming 2012 Ford Focus ST running some grueling laps at the Nurburgring.

The strange wheel hubs you see in the latest shots are typically used in the auto industry to calibrate wheel slip, most often when engineers are working on traction and stability control systems for the car.

As we’re sure you are aware, the design of the latest Focus has been a truly global effort, with engineering taking place in Europe, the U.S. and even as far as Australia. As for the Focus ST, Ford’s Team RS and SVT performance engineering divisions are putting prototypes through a punishing testing regime to hone performance and driving dynamics.

The car is expected to ship with a 2.0-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder engine developing upwards of 246 horsepower and sending drive to the front wheels. To go along with all that power will be an eye-catching paint job, ground-hugging suspension, big wheels and tires and dual exhaust tips mounted in the center of the car’s bumper.

There will also be a performance oriented version of Ford’s Electric Power Assist Steering (EPAS) system as well as sporty bucket seats in the interior. A six-speed manual should come as standard but if we’re lucky, a new dual clutch unit will be offered as well.

While we wait for the arrival of the 2012 Ford Focus ST, click here to see a video of last year’s Focus ST concept car in our previous story.


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