Highlighting the automaker's Paris presentations, the 2012 Ford Focus ST provides an early look at a range-topping variant that it plans to sell globally. While the show marks the first time that all three versions of the new Ford Focus -- sedan, five-door and formal wagon -- appear on stage together along with the new C-MAX crossover and mid-size Mondeo, it will be the initial public reveal for the high-profile hatch-based ST.

Finished in Tangerine Scream -- an evolution of the electric orange paint worn by its previous-generation predecessor -- the 2012 Focus ST touts its bad-boy image with a selection of even bolder bodywork elements. Up front, the edgier fascia is dominated by a large, single-element grille filled with black mesh and an aggressive spoiler/splitter treatment. These are suitably complemented by bespoke side sills and an even more stylized tail treatment that includes a twin-port center exhaust and blackout valance accents, all set off by custom five-spoke alloy wheels.

The first vehicle developed under its global Performance Vehicles strategy, the 2012 Ford Focus ST will be fitted with a 2.0-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder engine tuned to make 247 horsepower. Although backed by a six-speed manual transmission in this one-off preview car, it's possible the production model also may be offered with Ford's six-speed dual-clutch automated manual. Although Ford provided no specifics on the suspension modifications, true to its pedigree, the production version of the new 2012 Focus ST will feature full enthusiast-grade chassis tune as well as up-rated steering and brakes.

The well-finished cabin of this show variant also appears to be a virtual clone of what we'll see in the production 2012 Ford Focus ST. It matches impressively bolstered sport seats and dedicated RS trim bits with the best of the standard Focus package to create a driver-centric environment that still retains all of the basic practicality found in the standard five-door.

For those needing even more of a good thing, Ford is reportedly developing an even hotter "RS" version of the new Ford Focus -- although that vehicle seems likely to be at least another full model year away, at best. So far no word on what level of firepower it will pack. But unlike the 2012 Ford Focus ST, there's no guarantee that a street-legal version will ever find its way to America.

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