RU­MOUR HAS IT...

Business Day - Motor News - - MOTOR NEWS -

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.

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