Ford Australia has discontinued all of its mainstream Focus variants with the exception of the ST hot hatch as part of the small hatchback’s mid-cycle facelift.
That means the ST-Line and jacked-up Active will no longer be offered when the updated Focus hits showrooms in quarter two next year.
Ford points out that the small-car segment has contracted significantly in recent years, dropping from 22.5 per cent of total annual sales in 2014 to 13.2 per cent in 2020. However, in that same period, hot hatch sales have more than tripled.
Demand for the go-fast Focus appears to be growing too. Last year, the ST made up 14 per cent of overall Focus sales and so far this year it has grown to 37 per cent of the model mix.
Ford Australia president and CEO Andrew Birkic said the Blue Oval was concentrating on building its presence in other market segments.
“As we focus our efforts in areas of future growth for Ford and the industry, we’re freshening and expanding our line-up across performance, commercial and family vehicles, including plans for at least five new electrified vehicles by the end of 2024,” he said.
Ford already cut the Focus line-up mid-last year, dropping the Ambiente, Trend and Titanium hatchbacks and the ST-Line wagon. The fourth-generation Focus went on sale in Australia in late 2018.
The refreshed Focus line-up will feature the ST and the more premium ST X. That puts it in line with Hyundai’s i30 N hot hatch that is offered in regular and Premium guise.
The updated Focus continues to use the same 2.3-litre turbocharged petrol engine as the model it replaces.
Part of a range-wide facelift, the refreshed ST hatch gains a sleeker front-end design thanks to new LED headlights with integrated fog lights and distinctive daytime running lights, a new bonnet that increases the height of the nose, a restyled front apron and tweaked LED tail-lights.
Ford has also added the Mean Green pain colour to the palette and new alloy wheel designs.
Inside, the Focus ST features new front sports seats and Ford’s new-generation SYNC4 multimedia system linked up to a 13.2-inch landscape touchscreen that the company says is the biggest in the segment.
The new screen houses functions such as heating and ventilation, reducing the number of physical buttons, and it comes with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. It also features advanced speech recognition allowing for natural speech.
The Focus now features a 13.2-inch touchscreen which Ford says is the biggest in its class.
The Focus ST X adds advanced adaptive lighting tech for the headlights, including a glare-free high-beam function, bad weather light and dynamic lights that uses a camera to provide better vision on curved roads.
New to the Focus ST is Blind Spot Assist, which includes steering wheel inputs to discourage a lane change when a vehicle in the next lane poses a collision risk, and intersection assist. As before, autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian and cyclist detection, adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist and a rear occupant alert are standard.
Nothing has changed under the bonnet, with the ST carrying over the 2.3-litre four-cylinder petrol engine with a twin-scroll turbocharger, pumping out 206kW of power and 420Nm of torque. It drives the front wheels via a seven-speed auto or a six-speed manual which is a no-cost option.
The Focus ST beats the outputs of the Hyundai i30 N (206kW/392Nm) and Volkswagen Golf GTI (180kW/370Nm).
The current price for the Focus ST is $44,890 before on-road costs for the manual and auto. Pricing is yet to be determined for the updated model so it is unclear if it will get a price bump. Full specifications and pricing will be revealed closer to launch.
A number of the Focus ST’s rivals have copped price hikes in the past year, notably the VW Golf GTI that increased by more than $5900 with the new-gen Mk8 version, while the Hyundai i30 N price grew by $3100 with its mid-life update.
Sales of the fourth-gen Focus hit a high of 3682 units in 2019, well down on the segment-leading Toyota Corolla’s haul of 30,460 in the same year.
Focus registrations dropped to 1878 last year and are sitting on just 647 to the end of September this year. This year’s tally is due in part to stock shortages from the European factory due to COVID-19 and semi-conductor shortage issues.