THE next-generation Ford Focus ST mades its global debut at the Paris Motor Show, providing an early preview of the new high-performance model to be introduced in 2012.

This range-topper will aim to offer driving enthusiasts a cocktail of exhilarating performance and handling, an addictive sound and muscular sports design.

“The ST will be the performance flagship of our new Focus range and we are excited to provide enthusiasts with an early preview,” said Gunnar Herrmann, Ford global vehicle line director. "The ST represents an ultimate expression of Focus driving quality and performance and we are confident the new model will strengthen the reputation of Ford's ST heritage and attract new fans."

At the heart of the appeal of the next-generation Focus ST is a high-output 250PS derivative of the 2.0-litre EcoBoost four-cylinder petrol engine.

Compared to the 2.0-litre EcoBoost engine used in other vehicles, the 250PS unit features re-designed intake and exhaust systems and a unique engine calibration to deliver the desired level of power and responsiveness. The engine retains the strong torque delivery which is a feature of Ford EcoBoost designs, with a broad, flat torque curve offering a maximum output of 360Nm.

The standard transmission is a 6-speed manual gearbox, optimised with more sporting ratios carefully matched to the performance characteristics of the engine.

Drivers will also be able to take advantage of new technologies including advanced new driver assistance, powertrain, chassis and active safety features.

The new Focus ST features a highly distinctive sports exterior, providing significant functional and aerodynamic benefits and clearly differentiating the ST derivative from other models in the family.

The Paris preview car is finished in a dramatic new 'tangerine scream' body colour, which reflects the new character.