First Look: 2012 Ford Focus ST

American enthusiasts have been waiting with bated breath for an SVT Focus replacement ever since it left the scene back in 2004. The wait is almost over. Now we finally have the full details on the 2012 Ford Focus ST, which debuted today in production trim at the 2011 Frankfurt motor show.

The 2012 Focus ST is the first global performance vehicle developed as part of Ford’s much discussed “One Ford” program. The internal program has pushed all global design, engineering, and product planning together to create one lineup for Ford’s products worldwide. Unlike the previous-generation Focus ST which was for European consumption only, the new one will be available in over 40 markets on six continents, although a Focus ST Wagon will be sold in the European market only.

The new ST uses a tuned version of Ford’s 2.0-liter turbocharged EcoBoost inline-four cylinder rated at 250 hp and 250 lb-ft of torque. Power is routed through a six-speed manual to the front wheels, which wear 18-inch Y-shaped spoke alloy wheels wrapped in high-performance 235/40R18 Goodyear Eagle F1 Asymmetric 2 tires. The 2.0-liter EcoBoost takes advantage of high-pressure direct injection, a low-inertia turbocharger, and twin-independent variable cam timing to help decrease fuel consumption by a claimed 20 percent compared to the outgoing ST. The turbo-four also gets a redesigned intake and exhaust system for the ST application, as well as a unique ECU calibration.

The ST uses a new variable-ratio steering rack that decreases sensitivity in a straight line and increases sensitivity during cornering, according to Ford’s engineers. The new steering rack is paired with an electric power steering system and a torque steer compensation system (TSC). When TSC detects torque steer, it communicates to the power steering system, which counteracts the effect to eliminate torque steer feel for the driver.

The Focus ST also receives a modified electronic stability program (ESP) with three modes. Normal mode is based on the ESP system in the standard Focus, but has been recalibrated to be less intrusive to the driver. Wide-slip mode switches off the traction control, but the system will step in if things get too far out of line. The third and final mode is all off; traction control and ESP are both deactivated, leaving only sub-features like the enhanced dynamic cornering control (EDCC) and TSC enabled.

Ford has also added an enhanced torque vectoring control to the Focus ST. It works by braking the inner wheel of the vehicle through a turn to reduce understeer, similar to a limited-slip differential. It is paired with cornering under steer control (CUSC), which sends torque to the outside wheel based on the amount of understeer present to keep the ESP from kicking in.

The ST will use uprated shock absorbers and lower springs which drop the ST by 10 millimeters — lowering the car’s center of gravity and giving the ST a meaner stance. The rear suspension uses upgraded knuckles with an all-new anti-roll bar.

It won’t be hard to tell the ST apart from lesser Focii thanks to its single-piece, honeycomb trapezoidal black grille and rear diffuser with center-mounted exhaust. A new, larger rear spoiler increases high-speed stability while reducing drag. The ST will be offered in unique colors: performance blue, race red, white, and tangerine scream – Ford’s new signature orange-gold for the ST line. Inside, the ST receives specially-designed sport pedals, steering wheel, and gearshift. Ford worked with Recaro to design unique front seats for the Focus ST featuring a low seating position. A new rear seat has been designed for the ST using sculpted foam to help hold rear passengers in place during enthusiastic driving.

The ST also gets a number of creature comforts standard including automatic headlights, auto-dimming rear mirror, automatic wipers, and floor mats. Partial-leather Recaros, dual-zone automatic climate control, heated seats, eight-way seat adjustability, and bi-xenon headlights are optional.

The 2012 Focus ST is slated to go on sale worldwide starting next year, and we’re betting hot-hatch enthusiasts from coast-to-coast will be queuing up at Ford dealers to get their hands on one.

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2012 Ford Focus

2012 Ford Focus

MSRP $39,200 Electric Hatchback

0-60 MPH:

7.6 SECS


26 City / 36 Hwy

Safety (IIHS):

Best Pick