247bhp Focus ST well on the way

* Ford 'spy' shots show next year's sporty Focus * Sixty pre-production cars now in testing * 'Significantly better fuel economy' promised...

247bhp Focus ST well on the way

Ford has released its own 'spy' shots of next year's sporty Focus ST in testing.

Engineers are now working with 60 pre-production cars around the world to put the finishing touches to the ST's performance and handling.

The car will have have an excellent turn of speed thanks to a 247bhp turbocharged 2.0-litre EcoBoost petrol engine. It will do 0-62mph in around 6.5 seconds or less and a top speed of more than 150mph.

Ford also promises the new ST will have class-leading economy that is significantly better than the previous generation's 2.5-litre version. That car managed just 30.4mpg on the combined cycle.

An identically powerful Renault Megane Renaultspot manages 33.6mpg, while the less powerful 232bhp Alfa Romeo Cloverleaf returns 37.2mpg. Even the more powerful 267bhp Volkswagen Golf R has better economy than the last Focus ST at 33.2mpg, while the 208bhp GTI does 38.7mpg.

The new Focus is the first with an electric power steering system. So far we've been very impressed with the feel it gives.

Although the latest picture released by Ford shows a camouflaged car, undisguised versions have already been unveiled to show the ST in all of its glory with its lowered suspension, larger wheels and more aggressive look with a pronounced rear spoiler.