Ford has ruled out offering a grippier derivative of the new Focus ST with an all-wheel drive (AWD) system taken from the now-retired RS range-topper.
Given the new Focus ST uses a detuned version of the Focus RS’s 2.3-litre turbocharged engine making 206kW of power and 420Nm of torque (down 51kW and 20Nm), it serves as something of a replacement for the all-wheel drive RS – albeit on a newer platform.
But it’ll remain a front-wheel drive only proposition, much like its Volkswagen Golf GTI, Honda Civic Type R, and Hyundai i30 N competitors.
Ford Performance Europe manager, Stefan Muenzinger, last night told media he didn’t see the need to take the all-wheel drive path.
“No, there are no plans for an all-wheel-drive ST. That would naturally be the RS proposition,” he said. Ford has ruled out developing another Focus RS, blaming emissions regulations for the decision.
“I personally think this car doesn’t need all-wheel drive because the LSD [electronically actuated mechanical limited-slip front differential] is a key enabler for traction.”
“Ok, if you would pull away in the wet in first gear, yes, as a front-wheel drive car you will struggle with traction and traction control comes. But anywhere in dry conditions, you would be surprised by the amount of traction you get via the differential, and the tuning with it, and the tyres. It’s quite amazing actually.”
The Focus ST is fitted with Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tyres, and tames engine torque through a Borg Warner mechanical LSD with electronic actuator and clutch that can lock anywhere between 0 and 100 per cent.
In other words, it can completely control torque flow to each front wheel.
“In any other drive manoeuvre it actually feels at least as powerful as the RS,” suggested Muenzinger.
“The ST is a lighter car than the old RS, has better aero, and there’s the anti-lag turbo technology, so when you step onto the pedal pickup is much quicker. In-gear acceleration, aside from launching from standstill, it’s actually as fast as a Focus RS.”
Nevertheless, it’s a second slower to 100km/h, with Ford citing a time of 5.7 seconds for the manual, and a few tenths higher for the new seven-speed automatic derivative with paddle shifters.
The Focus ST is on sale at $44,690 before on-road costs. Stay tuned for our first review going live Thursday this week.