Frankfurt Motor Show: Ford Focus ST

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In the same way the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton happened before Zara Phillips got married to that rugby player, the Focus ST is the warm-up for a much bigger event. That event being the Focus RS.

Never mind, because the freshly unveiled Focus ST isn't too shabby a stopgap. Ford is calling it the company's 'first global performance car', even though ST Wagon (the estate to you and I) will only be sold in Europe.

It gets a 247bhp four-cylinder Ecoboost turbo engine, which is 20 percent more fuel efficient than the outgoing ST's five-cylinder block, despite a power hike.

Ford says it will bring "affordable, everyday performance to the world", and that only minor changes will be made from market to market, to satisfy regulations.

The central tailpipes are part of an exhaust system that's been tuned specifically to sound fruity, so that owners of the current, particularly lovely sounding five-cylinder ST aren't too disappointed.

The steering is specific to the ST. It even has a name: Ford Sport Steering System. Catchy. It's a speed-sensitive setup that slackens off slightly at higher speeds to avoid feeling twitchy, but sharpens up during cornering. At very low speed the assistance is dialled up, making parking easier.

The traction control has been re-jigged too, as has Ford's Torque Steer Compensation system, which as the name suggests, uses clever electric trickery to mitigate the effects of self-steering under hard acceleration; first generation Focus RS owners might wish Ford had developed the system a good few years ago.

The suspension gets a makeover, with uprated shock absorbers and the ride height chopped by ten millimetres. The rear suspension gets a load of new parts, including new anti-roll bars, although they're reserved for the hatchback only - the Wagon keeps the standard Focus rear setup, placed at an angle 'to maintain the optimum amount of capacity in the luggage compartment'.

No prices yet, but it'll go on sale early next year and, in modern Ford tradition, it won't be cheap.

Ford Focus ST

Ford Focus ST