Ford will introduce its high-performance Focus ST next week at the Frankfurt Auto Show and will sell it next year in the U.S.
The car, which will deliver 247 horsepower from a tweaked version of Ford’s 2.0-liter, four-cylinder EcoBoost engine, reassures enthusiast buyers that the Dearborn automaker is returning to the high-performance market.
Before the 2008 financial crisis and Ford’s unprofitable years leading up to it, the company had a broad range of Special Vehicle Team (SVT) vehicles, but they were casualties of Ford’s cutbacks during the early stages of its turnaround.
Jost Capito, Ford’s head of global performance vehicle strategy, said Ford will launch several new performance vehicles globally. Work continues on a new 2013 Mustang GT500.
“We are determined that the new Focus ST will meet the very high expectations of our fans around the world,” Capito said.
Performance cars represent a profitable niche market in which automakers can showcase new technology and generate buzz, especially among racing enthusiasts.
Earlier this year, Chrysler combined its high-performance models under a new SRT (Street Racing Technology) brand. Chrysler is introducing SRT models of the Dodge Charger, Chrysler 300 and Jeep Grand Cherokee.
Ford is not planning a separate performance brand, but will draw on the expertise of about 70 engineers to tweak other high-performance editions of other models as needed.
The company is providing periodic peeks at Focus ST features and technology on Focus’ Facebook page. Visitors also can see videos of the test drives and hot-weather testing in Spain and the U.S.