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Ford's high-performance Focus ST is headed to the United States. The automaker will officially show the tuned-up hot hatch at the Los Angeles Auto Show later this month, touting its sporty handling, extra power and brawny styling ahead of its official U.S. on-sale date next year.

Making its North American debut alongside a high-performance concept version of the Ford Fiesta, the sporty Focus ST will be shown as a five-door hatchback in an eye-grabbing orange color. While we already saw the new Focus ST at this year's Frankfurt Auto Show, the hatchback's appearance at Los Angeles marks its North American debut - and assures its presence in the U.S. market next year as a 2013 model.

On the outside, updates to the Focus ST are immediately obvious when compared to the traditional Focus hatchback. A large trapezoidal grille is added in front, while sculpted side skirts and a striking rear diffuser round out changes to the model's lower body. Designed to improve high-speed stability and reduce drag, a roof spoiler adds to the Focus ST's racy look, while 18-inch wheels improve handling and boost the car's sporty street cred even further. Interior changes include supportive Recaro seats, a unique steering wheel and gear lever, and darkened trim on the headliner and door pillars.

But the Focus ST's real magic is found under the hood. There, the automaker placed a turbocharged version of the standard Focus's 2.0-liter four-cylinder, increasing power to 250 horses, which drops the hatchback's 0 to 60 mph acceleration times into the six-second range. The Focus ST's only available transmission is a six-speed manual, which features specially revised gearing designed to produce maximum acceleration out of each gear - especially sixth, which was designed to deliver optimum performance while still maintaining excellent gas mileage.

But it's not just the Focus ST's performance-tuned engine that makes it an amazing drive. According to Ford, the hot hatch also featured enhanced torque vectoring control, which brakes the inner wheel in turns to improve cornering, sports suspension, which is designed to improve handling, and electric power-assisted steering with torque steer compensation, which keeps the front-wheel drive Focus ST headed in a straight line under hard acceleration.

While we don't know pricing or an official launch date for the Focus ST, we'll be on hand when it's officially revealed in Los Angeles to cover the hatchback in even greater detail.

 

JEFFREY ARCHER is fortunate to have turned a passion for cars into a career. His wide-ranging automotive experience includes work for automakers and dealers in addition to covering the news. When not writing, he spends his time searching for unique cars on AutoTrader.com.
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