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Ford is readying itself to muscle in on the hot hatch patch once more with the next Focus ST, which could boast 275bhp

The wraps have just come off the all-new fourth-generation Ford Focus, but our spy photographers have already caught a hot version of the firm’s latest family car undergoing assessment at the Nurburgring.

This Mk4 Focus development mule wears a slightly sportier bodykit and larger alloy wheels, and the bodywork suggests that we are looking at the next Focus ST.

The flagship RS car will get wilder styling, and beneath the disguise it’s easy to make out that the front and rear bumpers, plus the side skirts worn by this Focus, are lifted from the ST-Line model which will sit underneath the full fat ST in the line-up. Both hatchback and estate versions are planned, likely to arrive towards the end of 2019.

At the moment we know little about what will be powering the next Focus ST, though it's more than likely to receive a 1.5-litre turbocharged petrol unit - that's as large as the regular petrol line-up goes.

A power output of around 275bhp would ensure that the new Focus ST is competitive with the Hyundai i30 N Performance and Volkswagen Golf GTI. Extra punch won’t be the car’s only new trick though — cylinder deactivation tech will make the Focus ST more economical than ever. A diesel-powered option with around 200bhp looks set arrive as well, despite the fuel falling out of favour with British car buyers in recent months.

We expect Ford to retain the same ST-2 and ST-3 trim levels, with the ST-2 version likely to start at around £27,000 when the car arrives on sale in Britain next year.

New 2019 Ford Focus ST spied at the Nurburgring | Auto Express
 
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