Likely to arrive by the end of 2018

After seven successful years on the market, the third-generation Ford Focus was replaced by a brand-new hatchback. Although it’s too early to say whether the new model will be as successful as its predecessor, it has many features to brag about, starting with a new platform that will underpin several Ford vehicles in the future. It also boasts a sportier exterior, new tech inside the cabin, and a revised engine lineup. With the standard Focus on its way to dealerships as of 2018, it’s time to talk about the RS model. The performance-oriented model might arrive by the end of the year and rumors and renderings are already making headlines on the internet.

Ford’s very own competitor for the all-popular Volkswagen Golf GTI, the Focus ST will benefit from all the cool features of the new Focus, but it will receive a few extra features inside and out. The sportier exterior with more aggressive cues will be joined by an exclusive interior, while its engine will provide the most power in an ST model yet. Until the next-generation Focus RS arrives, the ST will sit at the top of the range in terms of performance and pricing. Let’s take a closer look at what we already know about this car in the speculative review below.

Update 8/15/2018: The next-gen Ford Focus ST prototype has finally been caught on camera. Check out our special spy shot section below to check it out for yourself.

Spy Shots

8/15/2018 – Testing on the Nurburgring

2019 Ford Focus ST
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2019 Ford Focus ST
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It was only a matter of time before we started seeing the Focus ST prototype in the metal and our photographers finally caught it lurking on the Nurburgring doing what hot hatches do. Naturally, there won’t be a lot of change compared to the standard next-gen model, however, it will feature a large roof spoiler, lower suspension, and a healthy dose of power that is dialed into somewhere between 250 and 275 horsepower. As far as we know, that power will be derived from a 2.0-liter four-banger, but there are rumors floating around that a 1.5-liter mill could also be found. It’s nowhere near as likely, and that power output would put it at the top of its reliable range, but it would offer up some benefits at the cost of aftermarket tuneability.

2019 Ford Focus ST Exterior

- * New honeycomb grille
- * Sportier front bumper
- * Diffuser-like element
- * Lightweight wheels
- * Tailgate spoiler
- * Not all that different form the standard car

2019 Ford Focus ST
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The front grille will get a honeycomb design, a classic feature of the ST

We have yet to see prototypes of the upcoming Focus ST without camouflage on the road, but this rendering from X-Tomi Design seems spot on. Just like the outgoing ST, the new model will still look familiar and share many design cues with the regular hatchback. The front and rear fascias will get sportier features but don’t expect the new ST to be too aggressive. This feat is being kept for the RS.

Up front, the Focus ST will keep the headlamps and the grille seen on the regular model. But while the former will come with LED technology as standard, the latter will get a new mesh grille. Ford’s choice here is probably the honeycomb design, already a classic feature on the ST and many performance-oriented cars. The shape and size of the grille will remain unchanged, but Ford will add a red "ST" badge.

2019 Ford Focus ST
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Don’t expect too many changes onto the sides beyond the black window trim, the side skirts, and the wheels

The front bumper will get a significant makeover. The lower grille will also have a honeycomb mesh, while the area around the black side vents with LED foglamps will also be finished in black instead of body color. A slightly bigger splitter will round off the front fascia design.

Don’t expect too many changes onto the sides beyond the black window trim, the side skirts, and the wheels. The latter will feature an exclusive design and will be lighter than standard rims. The Focus ST will also ride a couple of inches lower than the standard model. The rear fascia should gain a revised spoiler atop the tailgate and a sportier diffuser-like element. A couple of larger exhaust pipes will also replace the standard units.

If the previous model is any indication, the new Focus ST should also benefit from at least one exclusive exterior color, if not two. Look for more exotic finishes here.

2019 Ford Focus ST Interior

- * Very similar to regular Focus
- * "ST" badges
- * Leather trim
- * New upholstery colors
- * Sportier steering wheel?

2019 Ford Focus Interior
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Don’t expect major changes inside the cabin design-wise

The Focus’ new interior is pretty cool when it comes to design. Not only it looks more modern, but it also feels roomier due to the dashboard being positioned farther away from the seats. The rectangular A/C vents on the sides and the wide center section of the dash also make the cabin seem wider. The clean center stack and the big infotainment screen at the top also enhance the hatchback’s modern, premium-oriented feel.

There’s no word as to what new features will be added with the ST trim, but don’t expect major changes design-wise. Outside some badge, new color for the trim on the dash and door panels, and bespoke start-up screens for the infotainment system and instrument cluster, the ST won’t get much.

2015 Ford Focus ST Interior
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Some extra equipment is also on the table, as well as added functions to the Ford SYNC system

Of course, there will be new upholstery options. There’s a big chance that Ford will go with three individual specs like on the previous model, with the base ST1 trim to have fabric seats. The ST2 will get partial leather, while the ST3 will boast a full leather interior. The previous ST had bright upholstery choices like Tangerine Scream, Performance Blue, and Race Red, so expect something similar in the new upcoming model.

Some extra equipment is also on the table, as well as added functions to the Ford SYNC system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

2019 Ford Focus ST Performance

- * 2.3-liter EcoBoost engine
- * Close to 300 horsepower?
- * No AWD
- * Improved fuel economy
- * New diesel model?

Word has it that the next Focus ST will use the company's 2.3-liter EcoBoost engine

The new Ford Focus arrived with big changes under the hood, including a complete shift to three-cylinder engines. While the outgoing model also had a four-cylinder, the new hatchback is offered with 1.0-liter and 1.5-liter three-bangers only. Four-cylinder engines are still available on the diesel options list though.

While the smaller Fiesta ST also made a switch to a three-cylinder, the Focus ST will likely continue to use a four-banger. That’s because the small three-banger might not be very reliable with more than 250 horsepower. I initially believed that Ford will redesign the 2.0-liter, four-cylinder EcoBoost from the previous model in order to obtain more power and increase fuel economy, but a more recent report claims that the Blue Oval will go with a different unit.

Specifically, word has it that the next Focus ST will use the company’s 2.3-liter EcoBoost engine, which is already found in the Mustang and the Focus RS. While there’s no official confirmation for this and spy shots don’t include any hints yet, the swap makes sense given that the range-topping Focus RS model is bound to go hybrid. The Focus ST is also likely the last hot-hatch from Ford to use gasoline-only power, so it’s safe to assume that the company wants to give it a proper send-off.

It wouldn't be very surprising to see output increase closer to 300 horses

The 2.3-liter EcoBoost is capable of up to 270 horsepower in the Focus RS, so getting more than the outgoing model’s 252 horsepower and 270 pound-feet wouldn’t be an issue. Expect output to increase in the new model, but by how much remains a mystery. The current Focus ST is already more powerful than the Volkswagen Golf GTI, so Ford may want to take the Focus ST into Renault Megane RS territory. The French hathback comes with 275 horsepower on tap. Obviously, the EcoBoost mill can deliver much more, so it wouldn’t be very surprising to see output increase closer to 300 horses. With the next-gen Focus RS likely to boasts 400 horsepower, there’s plenty of room for the ST to become the most powerful in this niche.

The only issue here is for Ford to find the right setup for the 2.3-liter EcoBoost in a front-wheel-drive hatchback. While the Mustang is rear-wheel-driven, the Focus RS has an all-wheel drive system.

The manual transmission with exclusive gear ratios for quicker shifts is likely to remain standard

A manual transmission with exclusive gear ratios for quicker shifts is likely to remain standard, but unlike the outgoing model, which was stuck with a manual only, the upcoming Focus ST could also get an automatic. The sprint from 0 to 60 mph should drop below the old 5.9-second benchmark due to the extra power and the lighter curb weight. Top speed will probably remain locked at 154 mph though. Fuel economy should improve beyond the current 23 mpg city and 32 mpg highway ratings.

Although all-wheel-drive is becoming popular with performance hatchbacks nowadays, I don’t think that the ST will get such a system. The upcoming RS will definitely be AWD, but the ST will remain a front-driven hatchback.

The previous Focus ST was also offered with a diesel engine. The 2.0-liter Duratorq wasn’t as powerful as the EcoBoost at 182 horsepower, but it did have a whopping 300 pound-feet on tap. There’s no indication that the ST Diesel will get a new generation, but if it does, it won’t arrive anytime soon.

2019 Ford Focus ST Pricing

2019 Ford Focus ST
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As usual, pricing for the new-generation car will increase, but not by much. With U.S. pricing for the standard Focus not yet available, we can only speculate for the upcoming ST. The outgoing model retails for $25,170, so the new ST could start from around $26,000 before options.

2019 Ford Focus ST Competition

Volkswagen Golf GTI

2017 Volkswagen Golf GTI
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Arguably the most iconic and popular hot-hatch since the 1980s, the Golf GTI continues to rule to performance-oriented segment thanks to its sporty looks, powerful engine, and affordable price. Redesigned for the 2013 model year and updated in 2016, the seventh-generation GTI gets its juice from a turbocharged, 2.0-liter, inline-four that delivers 230 horsepower and 270 pound-feet of torque. The optional Performance Pack increases output to 247 horsepower. The German hatch needs 6.4 seconds to sprint from 0 to 60 mph and tops out at 155 mph. Although it isn’t quicker than the competition, the GTI greets its owners with a nice interior and good fit and finish. Pricing for the GTI starts from $25,595.

Read our full review of the 2018 Volkswagen Golf GTI.

Hyundai i30 N

2018 Hyundai i30 N Exterior High Resolution
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The i30 N is the newest model in this class and the first serious competitor for the Focus ST and Golf GTI in many years. Developed by Hyundai’s still-young N performance division, the i30 N boasts a significantly more aggressive exterior, sporty seats, and a lap timer. Motivation is provided by a 2.0-liter T-GDI engine offered in two configurations. The Standard Package comes with 246 horsepower and 260 pound-feet, while the Performance Package cranks out 271 horses. An overboost function adds eight percent more torque and quicker acceleration. Speaking of which, the Standard model hits 62 mph in 6.4 seconds, while the Performance version gets there in 6.1 clicks. Top speed is rated at 155 mph. Unfortunately, the i30 N won’t be sold in the United States anytime soon, so it’s only for European consumption.

Read our full story on the 2018 Hyundai i30 N.

Final Thoughts

2019 Ford Focus ST
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Although not as iconic s the Golf GTI, the outgoing Focus ST made a great impression thanks to its sporty design and powerful drivetrain. And while the old hatchback may look a bit dated inside and out, it’s drivetrain still has what it takes to give the Volkswagen a run for its money. With updated styling, a more modern interior, and even more powerful EcoBoost engine, the new Focus ST might just rule the segment until the Germans roll out a new Golf GTI. Hopefully, Ford will add enough power to counter the i30 N’s Performance package with 271 horsepower.

  • Leave it
    • Might not be as powerful as the i30 N after all


2019 Ford Focus Exterior Interior
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Read our full review on the 2019 Ford Focus.

2015 Ford Focus ST
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Read our full review on the 2017 Ford Focus ST.

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