Ford Focus ST wagon steals the show

If you’re in the market for a new car and need to service your family duties, but also want something that is a bit sporty, then Ford’s ST line...

If you’re in the market for a new car and need to service your family duties, but also want something that is a bit sporty, then Ford’s ST line is perfect for you. If you can’t get your significant other over the line on the Focus RS, the ST may be a good point of compromise.

Ford have just revealed their 2019 Focus ST and it comes in a wagon variant known as the Ford Focus ST-Line Wagon. For my money this achieves the vision of accommodating families on daily commutes and long road trips, will having enough performance to put a smile on your face when the kids aren’t in the car. That’s thanks to a 2.3-litre turbocharged EcoBoost engine that puts out a healthy 206kW/420Nm.

Of course wagons aren’t everyone’s cup of tea, so naturally there’s still a standard Focus ST version. Personally I think this lacks a bit of the visual appeal of the wagon, which is a strange thing to say, typically the wagon plays second fiddle.

The all-new Ford Performance Focus ST will go on sale in early 2020 and will feature the first paddleshift automatic to the hero model, as it broadens the Ford Performance offering in Australia.

“Local enthusiasts have made it clear that there’s a desire for highly engaging performance hatches,” “The all-new Focus ST builds on a tradition of legendary hot hatches, and will deliver an exhilarating driving experience as the latest model from Ford Performance

Kay Hart, President and CEO of Ford Australia and New Zealand.

Sourced in Germany from the same state-of-the art facility as the Focus RS and previous generation Focus ST, the all-new Focus ST is built upon the new C2 global architecture that has been praised for its inherent dynamic capability in what was a clean-sheet approach to Ford’s C-segment hot hatch. Ford’s new C2 architecture is enhanced with unique suspension, braking and powertrain configurations for the most responsive and agile Focus ST driving experience ever – on road and track.

“Intelligent technologies like eLSD and Continuously Controlled Damping make our all-new Focus ST the most ‘Jekyll and Hyde’ yet, able to switch from refined tourer to focussed performance car at the push of a button.

We’ve incorporated learnings from programmes including our Ford GT supercar and the acclaimed Focus RS to develop a mid-size performance car with a degree of flexibility that’s unique in its segment.”

Leo Roeks, Ford Performance director, Europe.

Focus ST Design

The Focus ST builds on the all-new generation Focus’ sport-oriented design, which includes a longer wheelbase, shorter front and rear overhangs yet more interior roominess. In addition, the stiffer structure and reduced weight of the new generation Focus provides a solid foundation for the Focus ST’s dynamic goals. 

Sitting 10mm lower than the regular Focus, the new Focus ST’s stance is framed by exclusive 18-inch alloy wheels shod with Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tyres. Up front, the ST has unique honeycomb upper and lower grilles – including an Active Grille Shutter – finished in striking dark grey, with its own front and rear fascia for a more athletic visual ethos. LED headlamps with DTRLs, as well as adaptive cornering LED foglamps, also give the Focus ST its own light signature while providing greater vision for night-time journeys. 

Further exterior details include ST-specific side-skirts, red brake calipers and an integrated hatch-mounted rear spoiler. The colour palette is also distinct from the base Focus range, with Ford Performance Blue and Orange Fury paint choices, which are only offered on Ford Performance vehicles. Interior features include a flat-bottom steering wheel, supportive RECARO seats and a unique digital instrumentation for the Drive Modes – another Focus ST first. Overall, the new ST takes full advantage of the all-new Focus’ excellent aerodynamics, style and appeal for a unique personality befitting a Ford Performance model. 

An 8.0-inch full-colour touchscreen with SYNC 3, including Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatiabilityI, as well as a 10-speaker B&O Play audio system, DAB radio, built-in sat-nav and reversing camera is standard on Focus ST. In addition, an optional Performance Pack for manual models includes Launch Control, Shift Lights, Rev-matching and an exclusive ‘Track’ Driving Mode. 

EcoBoost: More power, greater technology

A new generation of Ford’s 2.3-litre EcoBoost all-aluminium four-cylinder engine is the most powerful ever offered for a Focus ST. Using advanced turbocharging technology to deliver 206kWi – an increase of 22kW over its predecessor – and 420Nmi of torque, up from 360Nm, it is also the most free-revving Focus ST engine ever. It also delivers its numbers with a raw character and appeal seen on models such as the Focus RS.

Engine response is enhanced using a low-inertia twin-scroll turbocharger, which scavenges exhaust gas energy more effectively using separated channels to minimise interference between gas pulses. An electronically actuated waste-gate allows closer control of boost pressures for optimised performance. In addition, a unique exhaust system that reduces back pressure, unique air intake system and optimised intercooler further improve breathing. 

Innovative anti-lag technology developed for the Ford GT supercar is introduced to the Focus ST, for immediate power delivery in Sport mode and, as part of the optional Performance Pack, in Track mode. Anti‑lag keeps the throttle open when the driver lifts off the accelerator pedal, alleviating the reversal of airflow from the turbocharger to maintain compressor wheel speed and enabling boost pressure to build faster on demand. 

The Focus ST still offers drivers an engaging six-speed manual transmission, which enables more urgent gear-changes and a sportier feel. Ford’s new rev-matching technology that debuted on the new Ford Mustang is also introduced as part of an optional Performance Pack on Focus ST manual models for the first time. 

Delivering smoother, faster downshifts, the technology is accompanied by a shift indicator light, and uses the engine’s electronic control system to briefly “blip” the throttle as the driver engages a lower gear – matching the engine speed to the gear that is being selected.

Rev-matching enables drivers to benefit from the seamless, momentum-maintaining gearshifts delivered by the “heel-and-toe” driving technique, while also enabling experienced performance drivers to deactivate the system if they prefer. 

Intuitive dynamics enhanced with technology 

Building on accomplished Ford Focus driving dynamics, the new Focus ST was developed to blend B-road fun-to-drive, legitimate track-day performance, and everyday usability.

The SLA (Short Long Arm) independent rear suspension configuration helps optimise the vehicle’s responses to driver inputs without sacrificing comfort. The agile and energetic character of the standard Focus is retained using the original spring specifications, with damping stiffness increased up to 20 percent at the front and 13 percent at the rear, with a ride height reduction of 10mm to improve road-holding and response.

The Focus ST introduces Continuously Controlled Damping as standard on all models. This sophisticated technology responds to surface changes every two milliseconds, monitoring suspension, body, steering and braking inputs to adjust damping responses for outstanding ride quality and driving dynamics.

The driving experience is further enhanced using eLSD technology, a first for Focus ST. Incorporated into the transmission, the system uses hydraulically activated clutches to limit engine torque delivered to a wheel that has reduced traction on the road surface, and redistributes up to 100 per cent of available torque to the wheel with more traction to counteract wheelspin that can hamper acceleration through, and out of, corners.

The Borg Warner-developed technology is faster to deploy and offers greater precision than a traditional mechanical LSD. The system can pre-emptively adjust torque distribution using inputs from powertrain and vehicle dynamics sensors, rather than responding to wheelspin as it occurs, and can apply differential locking gradually for fine-tuning performance. 

The all-new Focus ST uses Ford’s most responsive steering system to date. The electric power-assisted steering (EPAS) system is 15 percent faster than the standard Focus, requiring just two turns lock-to-lock. 

Connected feel is supported by unique steering knuckle geometry for sharper responses, while New Steering Torque Disturbance Reduction software for EPAS also helps reduce torque steer, making it even easier to deploy with precision the Focus ST’s power and torque via bespoke-specification Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tyres.

Larger front and rear brake components provide the foundation for a high performance braking system with improved stopping power and fade resistance. Front disc dimensions have grown to 330mm x 27mm and feature dual-piston callipers. Rear discs now measure 302mm x 11mm. Focus ST braking performance was verified using the same demanding test procedures as the Ford GT supercar, and achieved almost four-times the fade resistance performance of the previous generation Focus ST in testing.

The C2 architecture’s Electric Brake Booster (EBB) further demonstrates its advantages in the Focus ST application. The technology builds brake pressure faster than a hydraulic system for a more connected, confident and consistent pedal feel across a broader range of operating conditions. For the Focus ST, this means the system is designed to mitigate for changes in braking behaviour experienced during high performance driving, and can adjust the braking feel and dynamics to match the selected Drive Mode.

Focus ST: Capable, adaptable 

The all-new Focus ST will also have Launch Control – as part of the Optional Performance Pack – for the first time, improving its standing-start capability for occasional close course or trace track experiences only. In addition, Slippery/Wet, Normal, Sport and Track Drive Modes (Performance Pack only) adjust eLSD, CCD, EPAS, throttle mapping, automatic transmission shift scheduling, electronic stability control, electronic sound enhancement (ESE) and climate settings to suit the driving scenario. A dedicated “Sport” button on the flat-bottomed steering wheel gives direct access to Sport mode, and an additional “Mode” button allows drivers to quickly scroll through the Drive Mode options.

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This post is authored by techAU staffers. Used rarely and sparingly when the source decided to keep their identity secret, or a guest author who isn't seeking credit.
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