Ford has labelled a high-performance ST flagship for the new-generation Escape mid-size SUV “a fantastic idea”, but questions remain around what would power such a model.
Speaking to Australian journalists this week, Ford’s global Escape vehicle line chief program engineer, James Hughes, was asked if an Escape ST is in the pipeline to take on the recently revealed Volkswagen Tiguan R and forthcoming Hyundai Tucson N Line.
“We do have an outstanding legacy and a really good foundation with the Focus ST, and we’re always evaluating further derivative opportunities, but as you guys know, I really can’t comment on future products,” he said.
“But I think it [an Escape ST] is a fantastic idea.”
While short of a confirmation, Mr Hughes’ comments certainly suggest Ford is at least considering an Escape ST, but which engine would be under its bonnet?
Given the Escape and Focus small car are both based on Ford’s modular C2 platform, it stands to reason an ST version of the former would use the latter’s 2.3-litre EcoBoost turbo-petrol four-cylinder engine, likely in combination with AWD to match its rivals.
Where things really get interesting, though, is the tune of such a unit. The FWD Focus ST develops 206kW/420Nm, but those outputs fall short of that of the 2.0-litre Tiguan R (235kW/420Nm) and 2.5-litre Tucson N Line (213kW/422Nm), so an Escape ST could get a tweak.
Either way, an ST would be a step up from the sportiest version of the Escape currently available, the FWD or AWD ST-Line, which is motivated by a 183kW/387Nm 2.0-litre EcoBoost turbo-petrol four-cylinder engine.
If an Escape ST were to become a reality, expect it to be at least a year away. In the meantime, the regular Escape range will be in Australian showrooms in mid-November.