2012 Ford Focus ST preview: Everything you asked for…and more

2012 Ford Focus ST

2012 Ford Focus ST

Ask and ye shall receive. And sometimes it helps to whine, plead and cajole. But whatever it took, Ford small car performance enthusiasts will get what they’ve wanted. The 2012 Ford Focus ST is coming to America, and what’s more, it will be powered by Ford’s 2.0-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder engine.

It will be the first “performance” application of an EcoBoost engine, a technology that has been utilized and promoted as a way of maintaining performance while downsizing the engine for reduced fuel consumption and emissions. However, in the Focus ST the 2.0-liter EcoBoost is there with sport performance aforethought.

Indeed, the 2.0-liter EcoBoost destined for the Focus ST will make 247 horsepower and 250 lb.-ft. of torque, putting the ST in the neighborhood of the Subaru WRX (265 hp) and the Mitsubishi Lancer Ralliart (237 hp). The 2.0-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder shares its primary elements of the EcoBoost family—direct injection and turbocharging—and with the 2.0-liter EcoBoost in the Ford Edge, although the engine in that application is rated at 240 horsepower. The new Focus ST actually more than doubles the output of the original European Focus ST.

In addition to the turbo and direct injection factors, however, the 2.0-liter EcoBoost engine in the Focus ST has twin independent variable camshaft timing (Ti-VCT) helps to broaden the engine’s torque curve that, also aided by the basic high compression allowed by direct injection, spreads maximum torque across 2000 to 4500 rpm.

The Ford Focus ST replaces the Focus ST offered in Europe with a five-cylinder engine. The four-cylinder EcoBoost engined ST, however, will be offered in than 40 markets including the U.S., Canada, Mexico, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand and 15 countries in Europe. Engineering for the Focus ST was a combined effort of Europe’s Team RS and North America’s Special Vehicle Team (SVT). Ford calls the new ST its “first truly global performance car.” It’s from, appropriately enough, the Ford Global Performance Vehicle Group.

In the U.S., the Ford Focus ST will be limited, at least at introduction, to the five-door hatchback. Unlike ordinary five-doors, however, the ST gets special front and rear bumpers, a rear spoiler and side skirts. The hexagonal grille mesh is reflected in the hex-shaped centrally-mounted exhaust notched into the rear fascia, flanked by “diffuser-style vents.”

2012 Ford Focus ST grille

The grille of the 2012 Ford Focus ST is a mesh of black hexagons.

The powertrain continues with a six-speed manual transmission with gear ratios chosen to complement the 2.0-liter EcoBoost’s power delivery. Ford says that sixth gear was particularly evaluated to maximize performance with “remaining long enough to help maintain excellent fuel economy on longer runs.”

The exhaust was carefully tuned as well. “People loved the sound of the previous Focus ST,” said Jost Capito, director of Global Performance Vehicles, in a statement. “The physics and acoustics of a five-cylinder engine compared to a four-cylinder are very different, but like Beethoven and Mozart…we believe the engine note of the new Focus ST will delight enthusiasts in the same way.”

Ford also touts the new variable-ratio electric boost rack-and-pinion steering, the variable ratio giving more precise steering in a straight line at high speed while allowing sharp turns without the driver having to hand shuffle or cross arms, while the electric boost reduces parasitic drag and thus improves fuel economy.