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Ford's GTI-beater for SA

2005-06-30 07:29

John Oxley

Wheels24 showed the car in concept form following its reveal at the Paris Motor Show.

The car is now in final development testing and will hit UK markets early next year in right-hand drive form.

Forde SA marketing boss Nigel Harris has already told me he'd like to see a hot version of the Focus in South Africa. At that time he was talking about the possibility of a Ford Focus RS version.

New target

However, that project has now been canned, and we feel sure Harris will now target the 162 kW Focus ST.

The Focus ST has been evolved from the "cooking" versions currently available in South Africa.

As with the outgoing Focus RS - a few of which made it here in private hands - the ST employs a turbocharger to maximise performance.

Since the Volvo S40 and the Focus use the same basic underpinnings, it was natural that the hot Ford should get Volvo power - a five-cylinder turbo unit specially engineered to give huge low-down torque as well as lusty top-end power.

Early indications are that the ST - short for Sport Technologies - drives like no other Ford ever produced before. The distinctive engine noise is complemented by a chassis set-up which aims to provides plenty of grip, combined with entertaining handling.

So impressive is the performance that, during development testing, the ST is claimed to have shaved a massive 12 seconds off the best lap time set by an old-shape Focus RS around the Nürburgring in Germany.

Click here for Ford Focus ST photo gallery.

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