Ford has unveiled its fourth-generation Focus ST, which goes on sale in Europe in the summer. Based on the Focus Mk4 that made its debut last year, the Sport Technologies derivative features the same five-door hatchback and estate body-styles of its predecessor.

The ST doesn’t veer too much from the standard car styling-wise, the changes being rather subtle and functional. At the front, the car gets revised upper and lower front grilles that have been optimised for increased cooling capability, along with lower wing elements that help channel air in to the air-curtain inlets for improved aerodynamic performance.

At the back, the model ditches the large logotype ‘Focus’ lettering on the tailgate, and gets a larger, more steeply-angled rear roof spoiler along with a pronounced rear diffuser. The tailpipe layout has also been reconfigured from the Mk3, now featuring twin exit tailpipes towards the sides, which improves practicality by delivering the towing capability that was prevented by the previous-gen’s centre-exit tailpipes.

New wheel designs also find their way on, and these include 18-inch Dark Sparkle and Magnetite designs, with a 19-inch wheel also offered in Magnetite, wrapped with bespoke-specification Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tyres.The ST also adds on red brake calipers when specified with the Performance Pack option available for the car.

As before, the ST will be offered in petrol and diesel versions, but the engine line-up is new. In the case of the petrol, an all-aluminium 2.3 litre EcoBoost twin-scroll turbocharged mill offering 276 hp at 5,500 rpm and 420 Nm of torque from 3,000 rpm to 4,000 rpm replaces the 2.0 litre EcoBoost seen in the previous iteration.

In terms of numbers, it’s an increase of 30 hp and 80 Nm over the older unit’s 246 hp at 6,500 rpm and 340 Nm at 1,750 rpm. The exact 0-100 km/h sprint time hasn’t been revealed, but the automaker says that the new car will do it in less than six seconds.

Mechanical highlights include an electronically-actuated wastegate, which offers closer control of boost pressures for optimised engine performance, as well as a bespoke air intake and exhaust system, along with an optimised intercooler.

The diesel ST is equipped with a 2.0 litre EcoBlue variable geometry turbo engine offering 187 hp at 3,500 rpm and 400 Nm of torque between 2,000 rpm and 3,000 rpm.

New items find their way on to an ST for the first time. The list includes selectable drive modes (Slippery/Wet, Normal, Sport and, for models equipped with the Performance Pack, Track) as well as anti-lag, which enables boost pressure to build faster on demand and offering immediate power delivery in Sport and Track drive modes.

The petrol ST also gets the automaker’s first application of an electronic limited-slip differential (eLSD) for a front-wheel drive vehicle, the Borg-Warner unit sharpening response to changing grip levels and driver input. The petrol-equipped variants also get a launch control function with the Performance Pack.

The electric power-assisted steering has also been redone, and it’s all good enough to for the Focus ST to better that of the previous benchmark, the Fiesta ST.

The car sits 10 mm lower than a regular Focus, and aside from increased damping stiffness, the system also features Continuously Controlled Damping (CCD), which monitors suspension, body, steering and braking inputs every two milliseconds and tailors damping response accordingly.

Ford is continuing with a six-speed manual transmission for the ST, and enhancements for this outing include a shift-throw reduction of 7% compared to the standard Focus and the inclusion of rev-matching, available through the optional Performance Pack. The latter can be deactivated if so desired.

It’s not the only transmission for the car – the automatic option offered for the previous-gen diesel is also available, in this case a new seven-speed unit. If anything, the auto ‘box gains further traction, because it’s now available for the petrol engine as well.

The unit features steering-mounted paddle shifters and Adaptive Shift Scheduling, which assesses individual driving styles to optimise gearshift response. EcoBlue models come equipped with Torque Vectoring Control.

A real shortcoming in the old ST was with its braking performance, and this has been addressed with a number of changes. One is with the introduction of an Electric Brake Booster (EBB), which builds brake pressure faster than a hydraulic system and offers consistent pedal feel across a broader range of operating conditions.

The other is with the revision to larger front and rear brake components – the front disc dimensions have grown to 330 mm and the callipers are now dual-piston units, while rear discs now measure 302 mm. The resulting improvement in performance is tangible – Ford says that the new brakes have almost four-times the fade resistance performance of the previous-generation ST, as revealed in testing

Inside, the cabin is dressed with metallic hexagonal and satin silver decorative elements, and there’s metal grey stitching for the seats, door inserts and centre console soft side pads.

The ebony Recaro seats come with a choice of high-quality cloth, leather, or partial leather and Dinamica material – the latter is the same kind found on some Mercedes-Benz models. Other dedicated items include a sports steering wheel, an ST-embossed aluminium gear knob and scuff plates and alloy pedals.

Kit includes a SYNC 3 infotainment system with an eight-inch colour touchscreen and support for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Elsewhere, the traditional Focus ST gauge cluster has gone digital, with boost pressure, oil pressure and oil temperature gauges now displayed through a Ford Performance screen on the car’s 4.2-inch TFT colour instrument display.

As it is with the standard Focus, the ST gets a host of driver assist equipment. These include Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) with stop & go (a.k.a. low-speed follow), speed sign recognition and lane-centring, as well as Active Park Assist 2. which controls automatic gear selection, acceleration and braking, enabling fully-automated parking to be accomplished at the press of a button.

There’s also Evasive Steering Assist, which helps drivers steer around stopped or slower vehicles to help avoid collisions, and a head-up display.