By on February 18, 2019

Europe invented the hot hatch, so perhaps it’s fitting that the Ford Focus ST lives on in that market. But we’d be lying if we said we were happy about it — especially after hearing just how good the next-generation model is shaping up to be. While Ford nixed the model in North America, part of its decision to prioritize high-margin crossovers and pickups, it continues perfecting the model for customers in other parts of the world. By our estimation, there’s real headway being made.

Available as a five-door hatchback and a real-deal wagon (available later), the 2019 Focus ST receives a version of Ford’s 2.3-liter Ecoboost turbo boasting 276 horsepower and 310 lb-ft of torque. Alternatively, there’s a 2.0-liter diesel option tuned to 187 horsepower. While we can’t speak to the diesel model, the gasoline variant should be a hell of a lot of fun. The old ST certainly was, and the new Euro-spec Ford tacks on an additional 25 horsepower and 40 foot-pounds. 

Further widening the gap, Ford has equipped the vehicle with an electronic limited-slip differential — the first it has ever affixed to a front-wheel drive vehicle. According to the manufacturer, the unit should adjust to changing grip levels and driver inputs by using “computer-controlled pre-emptive actuation.” Ford also beefed up the suspension, adding continuously controlled damping, and tack-capable brakes. Obviously larger, Ford claims the new binders achieved almost four times the fade resistance performance of the previous-generation Focus ST during testing. Meanwhile, the inclusion of an electronic brake booster helps owners dial in pedal feel and responsiveness to suit whatever drive mode they find themselves in.

“Selecting Track mode instantly makes braking response more direct and edgy; introduces higher steering efforts for more feedback; tunes the throttle to be more aggressive; instructs the eLSD to deliver maximum traction; and gives drivers more leeway within the ESC system,” said David Put of Ford Performance vehicle dynamics. “Drivers can have full confidence in the Focus ST’s ability to deliver on the track.”

Considering Ford also decided to upgrade the vehicle’s interior with more screens, gauges, and nicer materials than what the U.S. was privy to, we’re feeling an emotion bordering on envy. Europe and Asia already had the fourth-gen Focus’ good looks; now they’re getting more of everything else.

There’s a bigger spoiler, rev matching, an anti-lag system for the turbo, cooling has been improved, the central exhaust was swapped to a twin configuration to allow for towing, and there’s new rear diffuser. There’s also a cornucopia of adjustable drive modes and advanced safety systems — including adaptive cruise control (with lane keeping and stop & go), evasive steering assist, active park assist, and a head-up display.

A six-speed manual remains the standard gearbox, though Ford promises a “quick-shifting new seven-speed” automatic transmissions for those who want it. Ford’s Performance Pack is also optional, adding the aforementioned track mode, launch control, and red brake calipers.

It looks like a great car on paper, and there’s no reason to think its specs won’t translate well into real-world driving. Unfortunately, most of us will never know how well, as the 2019 Ford Focus ST isn’t coming to the United States.

[Images: Ford Motor Co.]

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22 Comments on “The Ford Focus ST Americans Can’t Have Looks Great...”

  • avatar

    It looks like a hunday inside and out. Generic exterior with wavy lines and giant chunks of blocked-off black plastic with a boring interior the likes of which we haven’t seen since Hertz circa 2007.

  • avatar
    cimarron typeR

    Looks good and it addressed all the shortcomings of its predecessor. Space, torque steer, interior plastics etc. C&D usually gets to test Euro only cars,I can’t wait to see what she do.

    • 0 avatar

      It’s hard to tell if the gauges are still offset from the wheel, or how they dim at night (two of my largest gripes with the past Focus), but it does appear to be a better interior overall. They lengthened the wheelbase slightly to improve rear seat room, which was one deficit in the older version. I still question if torque steer has been fixed, even with the electronic LS differential. But it is probably a good thing for overall handling. Also, the AT was reportedly going to be a torque converter auto, which would solve the PowerShift fiasco.

      All in all, it’s really a shame that this car won’t be sold in the US. It looks like it could have fixed the Focus brand.

  • avatar

    So instead we’ll get a badge-engineered Volkswagen Golf? How much longer will there be a Focus, before it becomes a Volkswagen?

    • 0 avatar

      Lol, if Ford wanted to compete in this market here, why wouldnt they just use the Focus they’ve already developed?

      Once more, with feeling: FORD DOES NOT NEED OR WANT VW CARS. If they wanted to sell cars here, they could use their own. They CHOSE not to, and a collaboration with VW on BEVs, commercial vans and autonomous vehicles changes none of that.

      Even with Focus production winding down, it still outsold the Golf in the past few months (last I checked was December 2018 and the Focus had the Golf by about a thousand units, and had been out of production for months by then). Fusion greatly outsells Passat. Why would Ford want cars that sell even less than what they had?

  • avatar

    Take the estate (wagon) version, jack it up 2 inches, and add black plastic cladding.

  • avatar

    Will be too expensive to get to the U.S. anyway. German Handelsblatt says that Trump is about to raise import tariffs on cars made abroad from 2.5% to 25%.

  • avatar

    What’s the skinny on the 7 speed? Someone above mentioned torque converted, confirmation? In-house design? I’m curious about them releasing a new FWD 7 speed at all vs. the 8 speed that is going into most refreshed FWD designs.

    • 0 avatar
      Mirko Reinhardt

      All 1.0/1.5 Ecoboost and 1.5/2.0 Ecoblue versions of the Focus use an 8-speed torque converter auto, so the 7-speed must be a Getrag dual clutch. With the torque rating, it must be wet clutch.
      The previous generation of Focus uses a Getrag 6DCT451 dual clutch with the diesels, the max torque rating of that transmission is 450 Nm. Getrag has a 7-speed version too. I guess that’s the one.
      Why not the 8-speed? Probably because the taller gears are too widely spaced in the 8-speed?

      • 0 avatar

        I also assume it has to be a dual clutch. If they were going torque converter, why not just use the 8 speed? I assume part of it is just that they haven’t been able to get the tuning of the 8 speed to be “sporty” enough for a hot hatch, but are comfortable with it for hotted up CUVs. The VAG DSG is quite good, and the GTI just migrated to the 7 speed (at least in the USA). I was a bit surprised that the GT500 didn’t use their 10 speed, but maybe Ford is going to lean on DCTs for all their performance car automatics.

      • 0 avatar

        In all seriousness how can a 8 speed be too widely spaced? There are plenty of cars running the quarter in 10 second range with 4 speed transmissions.

  • avatar

    The GTI was a thing back in the last century, but now it is not. I seldom see them anymore although I used to like them and still do. I suppose MINI has been a success, but I don’t know the numbers. I like them and want one, but there is not a dealer in Columbia, SC and I don’t like to live risky any more. Other than these two, I can’t come up with another hatch car that has been a success here in US. I lived in Germany for three years, so I get it, but Americans never really did—unless the Tahoe is a hatch. Tahoe is South Carolina’s GTI.

  • avatar
    MRF 95 T-Bird

    So Subaru let’s us have the WRX and the STi version. VW sells the GTI and GTI R. Hyundai the Elantra and Veloster N. Yet Ford which has marketed itself as a “world car” company won’t sell us the Focus ST.

  • avatar

    I have a somewhat tough time believing that this website really cares that this car isn’t coming here. The automakers are selling us the story, through auto journalist, that Americans don’t want hatchbacks or small cars or even cars at all. They only want big trucks and CUVs.

    Anyway, here’s a Kleenex, and go on to that test of the Explorer ST!

  • avatar

    The wagon version of this with a nice 7 speed DCT could be an interesting jack of all trades, especially if the auto low speed follow works well. From the early feedback, it seems like the new ST CUVs are mostly significantly more expensive Sport models made to print money but not befitting the badge. It’s a shame we lost this and the FiST, I’ll be looking forward to reviews in the Euro car mags.

  • avatar

    I like that selecting track mode instantly makes braking response more direct and edgy. I want brakes with attitude, that are in your face. You’ve heard the expression “let’s get busy”? Well, these are brakes that get “biz-zay!” Consistently and thoroughly.

    Sounds like the diff is proactive too. We’re talking about a totally outrageous paradigm. I can set it for maximum traction at the track and then put it back to minimal traction for the street so I can show off by burning up the inside front tire like a boss.

  • avatar

    Ford has given us the middle finger, in a variety of ways. I recommend that we respond in kind. I know that I will never buy anything Ford!

  • avatar

    Dear Ford,

    Would purchase the wagon version today, at MSRP.

  • avatar

    F**k Ford and the other car manufacturer’s who have turned their backs on smaller practical cars in favor of bloated, top heavy and horribly handling SUVs/CUVs…

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