276bhp from an inline-four turbo. An electronically-controlled limited-slip differential. Clever adaptive dampers. Auto rev-matching. Sounds like we’re talking about the new Hyundai i30 N, doesn’t it? We’re not, though - that’s the spec of the new Ford Focus ST, which on paper seems like an extremely close match to the Korean hot hatch contender that surprised us so much at the launch back in 2017. Bring on the twin test.
It’s also quite a big departure from the old Focus ST, which was - for better or worse - quite a simple beast. It always struggled to put its power down to the road through its open differential, so the presence of the new clutch-based differential on this latest ST is welcome news.
The e-diff is fitted as standard to the petrol-powered ST, which has its thrust provided by a “new generation” of the 2.3-litre Ecoboost inline-four that’s seen service in both the Mustang and the Focus RS. It also develops 310lb ft of torque, and is able to propel the ST from 0-62mph in “less than six seconds”. It even has an anti-lag system to keep the turbo spooled up when you’re off-throttle.
Concerned about fuel economy? As with the old Focus ST, there is a diesel version, which kicks out 187bhp and 295lb ft of torque. It doesn’t have the fancy diff, using a torque vectoring system instead.
Stick with the petrol, option the Performance Pack, and your ST will have a ‘Continuously Controlled Damping’ setup. This measures things like body movement and steering inputs every two milliseconds, adjusting the dampers to suit. It’s bundled with the aforementioned rev matching system, but if you want your shifts to be more efficient still, you can switch the six-speed manual for a seven-speed automatic.
The brake discs are suitably large, having grown to 330mm at the front and 302mm at the rear. On the subject of the stoppers, there’s an electronic brake servo, which is intended to give more consistent pedal feel.
Over those big brake rotors, you’ll find 18-inch wheels, with 19-inch rims on the options menu. Whatever design you choose, they’ll be wrapped in Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tyres.
Pricing hasn’t been revealed yet, but with all this added complexity, we get the feeling there’s going to be a bit of a price hike relative to the last ST. That said, the Fiesta ST is keenly priced despite all its clever bits and pieces, so we’re happy to be proven wrong.