Saturday, February 4, 2012

Does America Finally Have a Hot Hatch? 2013 Ford Focus ST



"That thing is really badass!" "I want one of those!" "I'd rather have that than a GTI!" "That's... awesome!"

Never before have any of these phrases been uttered in the presence of a Ford Focus, unless you were standing in a crowd of hopelessly boring people... or you were in Europe.

The Focus has always been a pretty good economy car since it was introduced as a replacement for the Escort in 1999; nothing fancy or exciting, but good in its own right. Consumer Reports recommended it, which basically means that it was a boring, mundane car that no auto enthusiast should ever drive.

Puzzingly, however, Ford chose to sell a different Focus in Europe than they sold in the United States. This was quite a shame, because the "European Focus," as it has come to be affectionately known, has received rave reviews in Europe for being a blast to drive- moreso than its European-made counterparts, in fact. More importantly, we Americans missed out on the high-performance Focus ST, which also was very well-received in the parts of the world where it was actually sold.

Click after the jump to continue reading this article.









Until now.

The 2013 Focus ST- billed by Ford as their "first global performance car-" will be powered by a 2.0 liter Ecoboost turbocharged four-cylinder- the same engine from the Ford Explorer and the Range Rover Evoque. In the Focus ST, the direct-injected engine will produce 247 horsepower and 250 pound-feet of torque Yes, that's over 120 horsepower per liter. For comparison purposes, the 2012 Mustang 5.0 V-8 makes 82 horsepower per liter, and the new Lamborghini Aventador produces 108 horsepower per liter.

Clearly Ford has done some brilliant engineering with this engine. They claim its extremely high output is due to the unique turbocharger design, variable valve timing, and a direct injection system that shoots fuel into the cylinders at a whopping 2,200psi- that's more than 50 times the typical fuel pressure of a modern four banger.

The ST will have nearly 40 horsepower more than a 2.0T GTI and nearly 50 more pound-feet of torque. It does lag behind the Mazdaspeed 3, which has 263 horsepower and 280 lb-ft of torque,  however preliminary Ford data indicates that the ST will reach peak torque from 2,000rpm to 4,500 rpm, while the Mazda reaches peak torque at 3,000rpm.





The interior of the Focus ST is just as impressive as the new standard Focus; it feels much more sophisticated than one would expect in an economy car, and certainly nothing like anything made in America five years ago. The seats appear to be well-bolstered without looking like some ricer sport seats that a 16 year old bought off eBay for his Civic, although I must say that I'm not a huge fan of the yellow inserts, presumably something that could be ordered in another color. Still, the rest of the interior is remarkably well done; sporty, but still tasteful. It doesn't look like something that was an afterthought, which is how I felt about the old Focus SVT's interior (and exterior, and the entire car, as a matter of fact...) 

As you can see from the photos, the exterior styling is another departure from Foci of the past- it's actually quite good looking. The center exhaust gives it a bit of a Euro flair, and the large honeycomb grille looks aggressive while still recognizably Ford. It's sporty, without looking like a Civic Si, and as a package might just be one of the best looking compact cars on the road.



The price is  yet to be released by Ford; I personally expect the Focus ST to start around $24,000, right on par with the VW GTI and Mazdaspeed 3. I can't wait to drive one, because I have a feeling that shockingly, the Americans may have finally made a hot hatch worth buying. Really.




5 comments:

  1. "ricer sport seats that a 16 year old bought off eBay for his Civic"

    LOL

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  2. Is this thing really going to have that much horsepower or are those just guesses based on the explorer ecoboost?

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    Replies
    1. Yes, those are the actual power figures quoted by Ford in a press release.

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  3. Why is Ford still playing with US buyers by keeping the higher hp European engine/power out of US????

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    Replies
    1. That's a good question, but it seems like they're finally bringing an end to that nonsense with the latest models.

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