The introduction of a new fast Ford is always a notable occasion so to debut the new Focus ST at the world famous Goodwood Festival of Speed in the Moving Motor Show section was a smart move - especially as the cars were put through their paces up the 1.16-miles hill climb course by a select small number of motoring journalists.
The UK will be by far the largest market in the World for Focus ST sales with half of the 9,000 unit annual production coming this way and 450 have been sold in just a week.
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Prices start at a very competitive £21,995 for the five door hatchback (no three door version) and £23,095 for the estate.
There are three levels of trim and equipment, ST-1, ST-2 and ST-3. Sixty per cent of UK customers will order the ST-2 spec with 30 per cent going for the ST-3. The hatchback will account for 90 per cent of sales.
New 2012 Ford Focus ST
The Focus ST will start to arrive in September, just in time to benefit from more publicity as they are the 'hero' cars in the new movie adaption of The Sweeney. The original TV series will be remembered for its use of Ford Granada, Capri and Cortina models.
Enough of 'memory lane' back to the Goodwood hill and the Moving Motor Show and the new Focus ST, the most powerful ST ever. This generation uses a 2.0-litre, four cylinder, turbocharged petrol Ecoboost petrol engine which replaces the previous 2.5-litre, five cylinder unit.
The new unit is 10 per cent more powerful with 247bhp, 250lb ft of torque from 1,750rpm and has 20 per cent lower CO2 emissions and fuel consumption. This new engine will officially return 39mpg with 169g/km of CO2.
All models have a six-speed manual gearbox with drive to the front wheels through a new torque steer compensation function, torque vectoring control with an improved dynamic cornering control and electronic stability system.
Other chassis changes include a 10mm lowered sports suspension with ST specific dampers, springs and shock absorbers. The rear suspension has uprated knuckles and a new anti-roll bar aimed at providing more feedback leading to more cornering control.
All models have 18-inch alloy wheels, Recaro sports seats, air conditioning, keyless start, alarm, electric windows/door mirrors and DAB radio. The largest selling ST-2 sees the addition of partial leather upholstery, uprated aircon and sound system and auto headlights and wipers.
ST-3 adds full leather upholstery, heated front seats, bi-xenon headlights, LED daytime running lights and rear parking sensors. All models have a considerably upgraded interior appearance over standard Focus versions with unique dials and lower positioned seats.
Ford Focus ST design
Outside the ST has the usual muscular sports style bumpers, bulging side skirts, racy signature trapezoidal grille and rear roof spoiler.
There is a centre exit tailpipe said to be designed to look like Darth Vader's Tie Advanced Fighter in the Star Wars films. Away from flights-of-fancy the exhaust system does have a sound symposer that gives an exhaust tone similar to the previous ST five pot models.
The new ST looks good but I didn't see it being as impactful with the petrol-head punters at Goodwood as the last Focus RS was two years ago.
Ford Focus ST and the Goodwood Hill Climb
The standard Ford Focus is already one of the sharpest handling cars in its segment, as good as the Golf, better than the Astra and it is already the most comfortable with handling and larger wheel options not having the overly firm and unsettled ride characteristics suffered by the others.
The ST specification doesn't alter the class-leading agility although the ride is firm but not uncomfortable. The new sharp reacting steering rack just needs 1.8 turns for lock-to-lock change of direction and the new anti torque-steer measures still retain enough feedback to remind the driver there is 247bhp under the bonnet.
Acceleration grip, cornering turn-in, balance, poise and engine response all impressed.
A fairly sedate couple of runs up the Goodwood hill, thanks to slower cars so BMW M5 and Skoda Citigo (now known as Citislow), drivers - you know who you are, gave us 'journos' a brief but impressive introduction to the most powerful Focus ST yet.
It is certainly the best Focus ST yet and in these financially difficult times much more affordable than its GTi class competitors. Roll on the arrival of right hand drive versions when we will get to grips with the new Focus ST on our challenging UK winding roads.
Ford Focus ST-2, 5-Door Hatchback (best selling model).
2.0-litre, four cylinder Ecoboost turbocharged petrol, 247bhp, 250lb ft of torque from 1,750rpm, front wheel drive, 6-speed manual.
154mph, 0-62mph 6.5 seconds, 39mpg, CO2 169g/km, VED road tax £275 First Year rate then £195 second year onwards, BIK company car tax 23%.
tba. For: Best Ford Focus ST yet in terms of price, performance, fun and ability.
Not a Focus RS in terms of striking visual impact.