FORD is expected to up the ante with its next-gen Focus ST, by showing its existing 2.0-litre turbo engine the door, and replacing it with a 2.3-litre four-cylinder EcoBoost unit and manual ‘box related to the powertrain in the current Focus RS hyper-hatch.
It is understood the next ST will remain front-driven, unlike the all-paw RS, and the bigger four-cylinder engine will deliver 186kW, wound back from its 257kW output in RS-spec. The current-gen ST produces 184kW and 340Nm, while the rival Golf GTI sends 169kW and 350Nm to the front wheels.
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UK publication Autocar believes Ford has opted for the larger-displacement engine over a more-powerful tune of the 147kW/290Nm 1.5-litre three-cylinder turbo used in the Fiesta ST as the smaller unit would need to be run close to its reliable limit to achieve competitive outputs.
Reports suggest the Focus ST is to be the last high-performance Focus without any electrification. The next-gen iteration of the hard-core RS is rumoured to be a hybrid, with outputs in the region of 300kW.
Most driving enthusiasts will be pleased to hear that a six-speed manual gearbox is expected to be the only transmission offered for the Focus ST.
Earlier speculation suggested a self-shifting auto would be available, but the Autocar report states that Ford will launch the 2019 variant with a three-pedal setup only, as it has chosen to with the incoming Fiesta ST.
Autocar also claims the next-gen ST will be 88kg lighter than the current iteration, bringing it under 1400kg, with a 20 percent more rigid body.
A reveal of the production version of the 2019 Ford Focus ST is anticipated for next year’s Geneva motor show in March.