FAST Ford fans have a new plaything in the shape of the latest Focus ST.
It's the quickest yet, comes with the most powerful engines Ford has used in an ST and petrol models feature the brand's first application of an electronic limited-slip differential on a front-wheel-drive vehicle.
As such, the new Focus ST is set up to deliver in no uncertain terms and also comes dressed to thrill with sporty body tweaks and some special paint jobs including Ford's Performance Blue finish and a very bright Orange Fury.
Like its predecessor Ford is making the Focus ST available either as a hatch or an estate and although the looks can be had on the latest ST-Line models, the dynamics are reserved for the real McCoy.
We have just tried out the new ST in hatchback guise with a 2.3-litre EcoBoost engine under the bonnet and priced from £31,995.
The twin scroll turbo engine delivers 280ps - 12 per cent more than before - which gives the car a 0 to 60 acceleration time of 5.7 seconds - a whole second quicker than before and the new model can achieve faster in-gear acceleration than the last generation Focus RS.
Top speed is 155mph and fuel economy is rated at 35.7mpg (179g/km CO2) although on our rather spirited drive the best we could average was 26 to the gallon.
The new Focus ST craves to be driven and it handles in quite sublime fashion which is not just down to the electronic diff but also the continuously controlled damping which adjusts the suspension every two milliseconds.
The whole experience is not far off that of the Focus RS and with no successor for that in the pipeline Ford's engineers have utilised all their performance expertise on the new ST.
There are three drive modes to go at, four if you go for the optional performance pack which costs Â£250 on the petrol version and adds a track setting as well as a ‘launch control' facility for maximum take off, and that's a first for Ford on a Focus ST.
The Focus ST also steals the ‘fastest-steering-response' crown from the Fiesta ST with only two turns lock-to-lock and the feel is ultra-precise.
Stopping power is uprated too and the Focus ST has an electronic brake booster which is optimised for use either on the track or the road with minimal fade and the Focus ST is also fitted with rev matching technology to keep power on stream when changing gear.
And as is the case with so many performance cars these days, there is noise enhancement for the exhaust note in sporty modes which can add some crackle and pop.
It all adds up to make the Focus ST a very serious hot hatch yet one which is absolute fun to drive.
On the inside, as well as plenty of ST logos and Ford Performance branding on the kick plates, there are Recaro sports seats in the front, a sports steering wheel, alloy pedals and some extra soft finishes to the trim.
However, the dash-mounted triple instrument cluster showing turbo boost, oil pressure and and temperature - a characteristic of all previous Focus STs - is gone and that information is now contained in a 4.2-inch TFT display within the instrument panel.
A head up display is another option at Â£400 but standard kit includes Ford's SYNC 3 connectivity and sat nav system, adaptive cruise control and an adaptive lighting system now modified to accommodate glare from road signs.
Rear seat space and boot capacity is the same as any other new Focus and that goes for the ST estate as well which cost from £33,095 with the EcoBoost engine.
The diesels are actually cheaper at £29,495 for the hatch and £30,595 for the estate yet despite their better official fuel economy of 58.8mpg (125g/km) are unlikely to be big sellers in the current climate even though their performance is equally brisk for an oil burner.
They are fitted with 2.0-litre EcoBlue engines with 190ps on tap and that results in 0 to 60 times of around 7.6 seconds with a top speed of 136mph.
The new Focus ST is due for release in September and initially all versions will be six-speed manuals.
Automatics will be joining the line up later in the year and while the new ST may be nudging into the territory of the legendary Focus RS from a pricing perspective it is good enough to merit that.
This is a genuinely hot hatch, engineered to thrill and with fun stamped all the way through.