FRANKFURT, Germany - At the Frankfurt Motor Show, Ford showcased two high-performance vehicles, the production version Focus ST and the Fiesta ST Concept. The Focus ST is the company's first global performance car, which debuted as both a sedan and a wagon for the European market. The Fiesta ST Concept signals the next step in Ford Motor Company's global performance strategy and hints at how a future Fiesta ST performance model might look when it joins the Focus ST in the global Ford performance portfolio. @Ford Online had the opportunity to discuss the two vehicles with Jost Capito, director, Global Performance Vehicles and Motorsport Business Development. Below are excerpts from that interview.
Q. Can you share some thoughts on the Focus ST and Fiesta ST Concept?
A. We’re excited to introduce the production version of the Focus ST sedan along with a wagon for Europe and a concept version of a Fiesta ST here in Frankfurt. That applies to the Focus ST as well as the Fiesta ST Concept. What you see with the Focus ST you can expect with the Fiesta ST as well. There's an EcoBoost engine, 2-liter EcoBoost in the Focus ST and 1.6-liter EcoBoost in the Fiesta ST with 180 horsepower.
Q. That’s quite a lot of power and there's a big jump from a 1.6-liter Fiesta. What kind of performance will it deliver?
A. We've been driving the cars. We have mockups built and everybody who gets in really loves it. The 180 horsepower for the weight and size of the Fiesta makes the vehicle fun as well as agile to drive. We worked on the suspension and we get it really there.
Q. Who is the target customer for a vehicle like this?
A. Everybody who loves driving cars, who wants a small car, wants a very fuel efficient car. But also it is very important to have a fun to drive experience. The fun to drive performance for us is as important as the fuel economy. And from the last generation to this generation, we did a huge step forward in fuel economy. We also did a huge leap in our fun to drive performance. As our base vehicles are improving, they also are becoming more fun to drive.
Q. Ford has some really exciting products on display in Frankfurt, including the Focus ST and Focus ST wagon. How important is ST to Ford going forward as a company?
A. I think ST has a great heritage and great success in Europe. And the excitement developing in the U.S. is really great too. The people and the dealers are desperate to get the ST product. We let the U.S. dealers try the Focus ST and they say, "You can't build enough." The heritage of the ST is well known within the U.S. enthusiast community. They see these great cars in Europe and are now excited to have the chance to own one themselves.
It's very important for us that the Focus ST has the same specs around the world. The Focus ST will have the same damper settings, same power, same tires, same wheels – everything is identical. You have different versions like you have the different interior options, but the technology and how the vehicle drives are absolutely identical.
Recently, I was in China and I saw what motorsports are like there with the Chinese Touring Car Championship. I was surprised at level of interest, and I looked at the performance market. They want performance vehicles there as well. The regulations in China will enable the ST to really grow because consumers not allowed to make changes to their cars. Consumers buy ready-to-go performance vehicles. And I think that there's a big opportunity for us in the Chinese marketplace for ST business.
Q. You mentioned briefly that American dealers can't get enough of the Focus ST. What type of reception would you expect the Fiesta ST to receive?
A. Small cars are really catching on with the Millennials – especially with what Ford is doing in the Fiesta in RallyCross and X Games. The first competitions that sold out for the X Games were RallyCross. RallyCross and X Games will expand to become the Global X Games in 2013. Young people in America love action sports and RallyCross is part of that action sport arena where Fiesta is dominating. So with this kind of exposure and interest one has to say, "When is a performance Fiesta coming? When can you get us a RallyCross car for the road? When can we have that excitement?" So, I think Fiesta ST would be very well received in the U.S.