RUMOUR HAS IT...
ST WITH A PADDLE
The 2019 version of Ford’s hotter Focus ST will finally add paddle shifting for the first time, sources indicate.
The addition of the steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters from the fourth-generation Focus’s eight-speed automatic promises to open up the hot hatch to a wider audience than the current car’s sixspeed manual.
While retaining its frontwheel-drive status, the Focus ST should be able to finally fight on a level footing with the ubiquitous Volkswagen Golf GTi and the new Hyundai i30N.
It is understood that the 4.4m five-door hatch will also be available with a six-speed manual gearbox, but will not adopt the hotter RS version’s trick differential technology.
While the powerplant is not yet finalised, sources suggest the ST may eschew the more expensive RS’s 2.3l motor on the grounds of cost and instead retain the 2.0l, four-cylinder turbo powertrain, with significant upgrades. The outgoing ST tokes 184kW from its 2.0l engine, while the crunching all-paw RS rips out 257kW, giving Ford 73kW of wriggle room to climb up towards the Peugeot 308 GTi’s 200kW. There are no confirmations yet, but sources suggest Ford thinks it can eke enough out of the 2.0l version to save the 2.3l motor for the RS brand.
It will ride on 18-inch wheels and tyres as standard equipment, with the option of 19-inch rubber. Critically, its handling will be improved over the stock Focus by dumping the twist-beam torsion-bar rear suspension in favour of the Focus wagon’s four-link independent rear end.
NO FIESTA ST
In a decision that makes no sense to us whatsoever, Ford SA has decided not to bring the new Fiesta ST to our shores.
The company is citing poor fuel quality for the decision in spite of the fact that the previous generation was available and that the engine in the latest version will be available in the new Focus. The new one has been lauded by media who have driven it, with many describing it as one of the best hot hatches available.
Ford SA has been making some strange choices of late, deciding not to bring the cosmetic ST Line models to SA at a time when it needs to attract style-conscious buyers after the debacle of the Kuga fire saga.
AUDI TT: 20 YEARS
The Audi TT is celebrating its 20th birthday making it a great time to update the model. The sports car that first appeared as a concept in 1995 will get styling and performance upgrades when it arrives in SA in the first quarter of 2019 along with a limited edition TT 20 model. Most of the changes are cosmetic ones including the inclusion on some models of kit from the TT-RS. Power hikes will be more noticeable, especially the replacement of the 1.8 version by a 2.0l engine.
UPGRADE FOR CX-3
Mazda has introduced an upgraded CX-3 crossover model in SA. Changes are minor indeed, with a few alterations to the grille, new 18-inch alloy wheels, LED rear lights and the introduction of full leather on the Individual and Individual Plus models. Engine options remain the same.
CORSA MORE SPORTY
Opel SA has introduced the Corsa Sport, featuring a 110kW, 220Nm 1.4l turbocharged motor connected to a sixspeed manual gearbox. Priced at R268,320, the new model has a sports body kit, 17-inch dark grey alloy wheels and an Intellilink touchscreen infotainment system.
LEXUS LC-F ON THE WAY?
So far Lexus has denied that it is working on a hotter performance version of its LC coupe. However, a prototype has been spotted testing in Germany and our sources have confirmed it is an LC-F.
Power looks likely to come from a new 4.0l V8 delivering 463kW. The LC-F is likely to shed weight over the LC500 — vital if it is to deliver an expected 0-100km/h under four seconds.
Sorry Fiesta ST fans, Ford SA says you can’t have the new model.
Lexus appears to be working on a more powerful version than this LC500, likely to be the LC-F.
Audi will introduce minor updates to its TT range early in 2019.
Opel has introduced a new Corsa Sport.