2019 Ford Focus ST Taps Civic Type-R Shaming Torque

Ford has revealed the new 2019 Focus ST, the latest version of its hot hatch, but there's bad news to go along with the good. The punchy five-door hatchback drops a choice of gas or diesel turbocharged engines under the hood, for torque that could shame a new Honda Civic Type R.

Either way, it's all based on Ford's C2 platform, which is used for all of the fourth-generation Focus five-door and wagon boy styles. To that, Ford throws in new suspension, braking, and powertrain setups, to keep the Focus ST suitably feisty.

Arguably the biggest change over the old ST is the introduction of an electronic limited-slip differential (eLSD). It's Ford's first such system on a front-wheel car, and will be offered on the EcoBoost gas-engined model. The automaker says that it should make the hatch more responsive to fluctuations in grip levels, along with more reactive to driver inputs, by pre-empting what the Focus ST believes is coming next.

Using hydraulically activated clutches, the Focus ST can shift up to 100-percent of the available power to either the left or right front wheel. Rather than tracking wheelspin and attempting to correct it, Ford's system looks at powertrain and vehicle dynamics sensors to try to spot where power will be needed in advance. The diesel car, meanwhile, uses a more traditional braking-based torque vectoring system.

Two engines will be offered. Ford's 2.3-liter EcoBoost gas engine will have a twin-scroll turbo and anti-lag technology, and deliver 276 horsepower and 310 lb-ft of torque. The 2.0-liter EcoBlue diesel, meanwhile, packs 187 hp and 295 lb-ft.

If you're keeping score, the current Honda Civic Type R does edge ahead on horsepower: it brings 306 hp to the table. However its 2.0-liter engine's 295 lb-ft of torque falls behind the 2.3-liter EcoBoost in the Focus ST. Ford says it expects its gas Focus ST to do 0-60 mph in under 6 seconds.

Ford will offer either a six-speed manual transmission for the purists, or a new seven-speed automatic as an alternative. The stick-shift promises 7-percent shorter throws than the regular Focus' manual, and there's the Mustang's rev-matching system if you add the Performance Pack to the EcoBoost car. That adds a shift indicator light and a throttle blip down you downshift.

The automatic, meanwhile, has Adaptive Shift Scheduling, which promises to optimize shift timings based on driving style. Alternatively there are paddle shifters on the wheel. The Focus ST gets drive modes for the first time, too, for different settings to suit different conditions: Slippery/Wet, Normal, Sport, and – if you have the Performance Pack – Track. A dedicated Sport shortcut button is on the steering wheel.

EcoBoost cars get Continuously Controlled Damping on the short long arm independent rear suspension, and both engines get new suspension tuning. Damping stiffness is up to 20-percent stiffer at the front, and up to 13-percent at the rear, and the 2019 Focus ST rides 10mm lower – 0.39 inches – than the regular car. Ford has made the electric power steering 15-percent faster than normal, cutting lock-to-lock to two turns.

As for stopping, bigger brakes are standard. The front discs are now 12.99-inches with dual-piston calipers, while the rears are 11.9-inches. There's an electric brake booster system too, which adjusts braking feel depending on drive mode. Performance Pack cars get red-painted brake calipers.

In the cabin, there's a new driver cluster with a 4.2-in LCD with custom graphics. SYNC 3 is standard, and there are features on offer like adaptive cruise control with lane centering, adaptive front lighting that can pre-curve the lights depending on upcoming corners and road signs, active parking, evasive steering assistance, and a head-up display. Cloth, leather, and leather/Miko Dynamic trim for the Recaro sports seats are available, and there's an ST-embossed aluminum shift knob and more silver or grey trim on the dash and seat stitching.

Outside, Ford will obviously offer its Ford Performance Blue paint, along with Orange Fury, Frozen White, Magnetic Grey, Race Red, Ruby Red, and Shadow Black. There'll be 18- and 19-inch wheel options. A new, more steeply-angled and generally larger rear spoiler has been added, together with twin-exit tailpipes; they've been moved versus the old ST, so that you can still hook up a trailer if you want.

Now the bad news. Ford says the 2019 Focus ST will go on sale this summer, but only in Europe. If you're in the US, you're out of luck. Pricing will be confirmed closer to the car showing up in dealerships.