2012 Ford Focus ST: Los Angeles Auto Show Preview Page 3

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Ford Focus ST, launched at the 2011 Los Angeles Auto Show

Ford Focus ST, launched at the 2011 Los Angeles Auto Show

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It’s not only the engine note that sounds fantastic on the new Focus ST. The exhaust system – with unique center-exit tailpipes – is tuned to deliver a perfectly balanced audible experience. Drivers will be rewarded with an orchestra of sporty sounds to heighten the driving experience, but should they desire a more relaxing drive, the refinement of the cabin and tuning of exhaust and engine note will give them exactly that at lower rpm.

Thrilling driving dynamics

Incredible driving dynamics are at the heart of the Focus ST. Innovation and technology combine to create a chassis capable of exceeding the expectations of even the most demanding enthusiast, while giving novice drivers an unforgettable experience.

From the driver’s seat, customers will experience the newly developed Ford sport steering system. This variable-ratio steering rack is designed to increase the agility of the Focus ST on winding roads yet still inspire the same high-speed confidence.

The unique system makes steering less sensitive when driving in a straight line but increases the sensitivity during cornering. Drivers can keep their hands firmly on the steering wheel through tight hairpins, maximizing their control over the car. It also has benefits in slow-speed situations such as tight parking maneuvers, with less input needed from the driver to direct the car into the space.

Focus ST’s electric power-assisted steering (EPAS) also is enhanced with Ford’s torque steer compensation.

More aggressive tuning of the torque steer compensation allows drivers to accelerate at full throttle yet still find grip on roads with uneven surfaces. The system detects the torque steer that those conditions can create and communicates with the EPAS software, which then counteracts the effect to virtually eliminate the sensation for the driver.

Further enhancements have been made to the Focus ST’s Electronic Stability Control (ESC), with emphasis placed on driver enjoyment. Drivers will have three modes of ESC to choose from. These can be selected according to weather and road conditions or simply to match the driver’s desire for help from additional driving aids.

In the first instance, ESC works much the same way as the innovative system found on the base-model Focus, though for ST it is tuned to be nonintrusive. This standard mode supports the driver on all surfaces – dry, wet or snowy – providing the confidence to drive safely regardless of the conditions.

The driver can opt to select the second mode, called reduced or wide-slip mode, in which the traction control is turned off. Here, traction is handled by the driver, while the ESC is programmed to intrude only when absolutely necessary.

ESC can be switched off completely, resulting in the Focus ST in its purest form, giving full control of the chassis to the driver who is in a position to exploit it, such as on a racetrack. Only the sub-features – such as enhanced Torque Vectoring Control (ETVC) – remain active, optimizing the enjoyment of the Focus ST’s abilities.

Enhanced Torque Vectoring Control

Through the corners, ETVC is an essential aid for Focus ST drivers, a tuned version of the Torque Vectoring Control found on the base-model Focus. The standard system uses torque vectoring by braking, in which brake torque is applied to the inner wheel of the Focus through a corner, reducing understeer and allowing for more traction, much like a traditional limited-slip differential.

The Focus ST’s ETVC applies steering pressure more aggressively and also adds cornering control, which applies torque to create a yaw effect based on the car’s understeer, both in power-on and power-off conditions. Combined, they ensure ETVC is a crucial element in helping make the front-wheel-drive Focus ST a true driver’s machine, able to tackle any corner with confidence.

Sports suspension

Working in harmony with the advanced driver-assistance features is the finely tuned suspension setup of the new Focus ST. Upgraded shock absorbers and springs lower the ST chassis for a more aggressive stance while the center of gravity is brought closer to the road, which aids precise cornering.

The rear suspension has been revised with a number of new parts developed specifically for Focus ST. Key components are the uprated suspension knuckles and an all-new anti-roll bar design, both the result of the development team’s desire to give drivers an outstanding amount of feedback and control.

Iconic alloy wheels

The iconic Y-shaped spoke design of the European Focus ST has evolved for the new incarnation. A set of 18-inch alloy wheels carries on the recognized Focus ST style, and subtle revisions bring it up to date for 2012.

Wrapped around the alloy wheels are high-performance 235/40R-18 Goodyear Eagle F1 Asymmetric 2 tires, developed after rigorous testing on all kinds of road surfaces and in all kinds of conditions, including the Nürburgring in Germany.

“The same tires will be offered on the Focus ST in every country,” said Matthias Tonn, chief program engineer for the Focus ST. “They are designed to extract the best performance from the car on all road conditions. They don’t compromise on performance, and they get the best out of the chassis and driver systems of the car.”

Bold and muscular outside

In North America the new Focus ST will be available as a five-door hatchback. The new signature production color, Tangerine Scream, reflects the exciting and energetic character of the Focus ST, but the other available colors in North America – Performance Blue, Race Red, Oxford White, Tuxedo Black and Ingot Silver – also indicate a car built for performance.

“The changes we made to deliver superior aerodynamics and vehicle performance have made the new Focus ST even more sporty and distinctive,” explained Martin Smith, executive design director, Ford of Europe. “Exciting new design treatments at the front and rear give the ST a more dynamic and purposeful character, making it very clear this is definitely a sporting Focus.”

From the striking one-piece design interpretation of Ford’s signature trapezoidal grille at the front, through the sculpted side skirts and dynamic rear bumper with prominent diffuser-style vents in the lower fascia, Focus ST’s design adds aggression and aerodynamic stability compared to the base models.

Drivers following Focus ST will notice the highly effective roof spoiler, optimized to deliver improved high-speed stability and reduced drag. They will also see the unique center-exit exhaust with a tailpipe design influenced by the exclusive hexagonal mesh of the front bumper.

Stylish and sporty inside

Inside, Ford designers worked hard to ensure the driver feels as connected to the car as possible. Sporty Recaro seats – available in partial or full leather – help deliver a unique, cockpit look and provide exceptional support and comfort.

Building on the Focus’ cockpit feel, the ST’s sporty feeling is further heightened. Details range from specially designed pedals to the steering wheel and gearshift. The darker headlining and trim on the pillars, an integral part of the ST’s design DNA, adds to the performance feel.

Rooted in history, built for the future

The all-new Ford Focus ST boasts almost double the output from its 2.0-liter EcoBoost than the original European Focus ST. Yet the dynamic driving hallmarks of that original hot Focus can also be found in this new edition.

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