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Ford Focus ST gets a facelift


Updated Ford Focus ST unveiled at Goodwood ahead of Australian showroom arrival in early 2015.
 
Ford has given its Focus ST hot hatch a new look and a load of new technology -- but no more power -- as a diesel performance model joins the line-up for the first time.
 
The facelifted version of Ford's rival to the Volkswagen Golf GTI was unveiled at the Goodwood Festival of Speed in the UK ahead of its arrival in Australian showrooms in early 2015.
 
However, the diesel version of the Focus ST has not been confirmed for sale Down Under as it was primarily designed for Europe.
 
The visual highlights on the new Ford Focus ST include sleeker headlights and tail-lights, new front and rear bumpers and optional 19-inch wheels.
 
The 18-inch wheels are the same as those on the current model but have been painted in a dark grey "charcoal" finish.
 
Ford may not have changed the power output of the Focus ST's 2.0-litre turbo petrol engine (184kW and 360Nm) or the straight-line performance (0 to 100km/h in 6.5 seconds) but it has changed the way the car drives by re-tuning the steering and the suspension -- and fitting new tyres to its hottest hatch. 
 
The current model Ford Focus ST rides on a highly-regarded and super-grippy Goodyear tyre that also happens to protect the edge of the wheels as the sidewall sits proud of the rim.
 
But for 2015, the Ford Focus ST will switch to Michelin Pilot Sport II tyres, the same used on Ferraris, Porsches -- and the Renault Megane RS275, the world's fastest hot hatch.
 
Ford fine-tuned the stability control's torque vectoring system, which it says now delivers more grip and more control in corners.
 
Ford also fitted new engine mounts to improve smoothness when accelerating on uneven surfaces.
 
As with the current Ford Focus ST and Ford Fiesta ST, the updated model was engineered by Ford Team RS based in Cologne, Germany, a two hour drive from the famous Nurburgring race circuit.
 
Inside, the Focus ST benefits from other upgrades that came with the facelift of the regular models, such as a redesigned centre dash panel with fewer buttons and a larger screen.
 
The new Focus ST will also be easier to live with day to day thanks to the larger centre console storage and door pockets. 
 
Ford has even revved up the USB port which now charges twice as fast as before.
 
A new race-car-style "flat bottomed" steering wheel has been fitted to enhance driver feel and improve knee room.
 
The Ford Focus ST gains "stop-start" technology (which cuts the engine when idle in traffic and automatically restarts it again when the clutch pedal is pressed) improving fuel economy from 7.4L/100km to 6.8L/100km.
 
In Europe, the Ford Focus ST will be available with black leather seats, bi-xenon headlights, cross-traffic alert (which warns of oncoming cars when reversing out of parking bays) and automatic emergency braking up to 50km/h. It is not clear if any of these options will be available in Australia.
 
Missing from the Focus ST update is the addition of an automatic or dual-clutch transmission which accounts for 80 per cent of sales of the arch rival Volkswagen Golf GTI.
 
Ford sources say the Focus ST is unlikely to develop a twin-clutch gearbox for this generation car.
 
Ford says it has sold 140,000 Focus ST (both this and the previous, non turbo generation) in more than 40 countries since it went on sale in 2002.
 
Meanwhile, reports out of Europe and North America say Ford is putting finishing touches on the next generation Ford Focus RS after numerous disguised prototypes have been caught on camera.
 
The Ford Focus RS is expected to be powered by a turbocharged 2.3-litre four-cylinder engine shared with the new Ford Mustang, but Ford is yet to substantiate the reports or even confirm if there will indeed be a new generation Focus RS.
 
If a new Focus RS goes on sale it's unlikely to arrive until late 2015 at the earliest.
 
Ford Focus ST
Price: $38,290 plus on-road costs (estimated)
Engine: Turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder
Power: 184kW and 360Nm
Transmission: Six-speed manual
Economy: 6.8L/100km
0 to 100km/h: 6.5 seconds
On sale: Early 2015

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