Hot hatch fans in the United States are likely still mourning Ford's decision last year to skip the new generation of the Focus locally, and now they'll have to suffer fresh salt in the wounds as the Blue Oval has just unveiled the car's sporty ST variant.
The covers came off the redesigned Focus ST on Monday, with Ford confirming the car is powered by a 2.3-liter turbocharged inline-4, the same configuration fitted to the previous-generation Focus RS.
Output in the new ST is milder to suit its front-wheel-drive layout, coming in at 276 horsepower and 310 pound-feet of torque. That compares to the previous ST's 252 hp and 270 lb-ft and the rival Volkswagen Golf GTI's 220 hp and 258 lb-ft.
2019 Ford Focus ST
The new car is also more versatile thanks to the availability of an automatic for the first time, in this case a 7-speed with paddle shifters. A 6-speed manual is standard and can be enhanced with a rev-matching feature via an available Performance Pack.
Also new to the ST is an electronic limited-slip differential at the front axle, a first for a front-wheel-drive Ford. It relies on hydraulically controlled clutches to direct torque to the wheels based on grip levels, with as much as 100 percent of the torque able to be sent to an individual wheel if necessary.
On top of this is a driving modes selector and adjustable dampers. The latter is also available via the Performance Pack and works by monitoring the suspension, body, steering and braking inputs every two milliseconds and adjusting the damping to suit. The Performance Pack also adds a Track mode to the driving modes selector, which sharpens the throttle and braking, stiffens the steering for better feedback, and dials up the performance of the limited-slip differential and stability control system.
2019 Ford Focus ST
Other performance upgrades over the regular Focus include a torque steering reduction program integrated with the electronic power steering system, larger brakes, and Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tires wrapped around 18-inch wheels (19-inch available).
For the cabin, a sports steering wheel, aluminum door sills, and Recaro front seats set the ST apart from the regular Focus. The instrument cluster is also tweaked with a Ford Performance screen with gauges for boost pressure, oil pressure and oil temperature.
Ford will formally introduce the new Focus ST in March at the 2019 Geneva International Motor Show. Deliveries in markets where the car is offered will commence in the summer, and depending on the market buyers will be able to choose between hatch and wagon body styles and even between gas and diesel engines.