This is the first front-wheel-drive Ford to achieve an electronic limited-slip differential (eLSD) to improve cornering stability. Rev-matching technology is available with the six-speed manual gearbox. A seven-speed automatic is also available.

Selectable drive modes are another first for Focus ST. They include Slippery/Wet, Normal and Sport, plus a Track mode for versions equipped with the Performance package. The driving modes set various parameters, including the electric steering of the ST, which is the fastest so far and 15% faster than a standard Focus.

There is also Continuously Controlled Damping (CCD), standard on the five-door petrol variants, which monitors the suspension, steering and braking inputs to adjust the damping responses every two milliseconds and promises “maximum refinement”.

Leo Roeks, head of Ford Performance in Europe, said: “Technologies such as eLSD and CCD make Focus ST the most Jekyll and Hyde yet, capable of switching from a refined car to a high-performance car at the push of a button.

“We have incorporated the teachings of programmes such as the Ford GT and Focus RS to develop a mid-range car with a degree of flexibility unique to its segment.

Fords 2.3-litre Ecoboost petrol engine is the most powerful ever offered in an ST. In the 276bhp variant, it produces 310lb ft from 3000-4000rpm, and is said to be the Focus ST engine with the highest free revs so far. The 0-62 mph reference sprint is said to take less than 6.0 seconds, making it at least 0.5 seconds faster than the equivalent outgoing model.

The anti-slip technology, originally developed for the GT supercar, is intended to provide immediate power delivery in the Sport and Track driving modes. The technology keeps the throttle slightly open when the driver steps off the throttle, making it easier to reverse the airflow and allowing the boost pressure to increase faster when needed.

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