Ford Focus ST• More than 240bhp
• Lower running costs
• Lower seating position

Development of the next-generation Ford Focus ST is well underway in time for its arrival in UK showrooms next year.

Ford Focus ST gallery:

Ford Focus ST

With a 2-litre four-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine in place of the 2.5-litre five-cylinder motor found in the previous Focus ST and RS models, it promises to be significantly cheaper to run but just as fast.

This will make it more competitive than rivals like the Renault Megane Renaultsport 250, Volkswagen Golf GTI and Alfa Romeo Giulietta Cloverleaf which all have 2-litre turbo petrol engines.

Power is expected to be more than 240bhp, promising zero to 60mph in less than seven seconds and a top speed in excess of 140mph.

The handling, ride quality, steering and even the seats will all be signed off in the coming months and will have to be excellent to beat the bar set by the outgoing model.

Matthias Tonn, chief engineer, said: “We’re fine-tuning, testing, and fine tuning again many of the small but critical details to make sure it is worthy of the ST badge. We will build upon and improve the ride, steering and handling strengths that defined the current European Focus ST.”

“The seats and seating position were very good in the previous Focus ST, but the new model is sleeker and the driver will sit lower. The new seats will provide even more support,” Tonn said.

Around sixty prototypes are currently being tested to destruction both in Europe and America. The 2012 Ford Focus ST is destined to go on sale in more markets than its predecessor and is being fine-tuned by both Europe’s Team RS division and America’s Special Vehicle Team (SVT).

The Ford Focus ST is expected to go on sale for between £20,000 to £25,000, but no prices have been announced yet.

By Andy Goodwin, senior web journalist