How does a smaller, lighter ST crossover sound?
In the US market, Ford's duo of ST-branded hot hatches - the Focus ST and Fiesta ST - were beloved products with a loyal following, finding favor among autocross enthusiasts and the young-at-heart, and making up a sizable portion of Focus and Fiesta sales. But as Ford pulled every single one of its car model lines from the US market, save for the Mustang, those hot hatches left, too, leaving a gaping hole in the enthusiast market.
As Ford attempts to plug that hole with ST-branded crossovers like the Edge ST and Explorer ST, could a smaller, livelier Ford Escape ST be in the cards, as well? It's a possibility.
Speaking to Australia's CarsGuide recently, Ford's Global Chief Engineer, James Hughes, left the door open to an Escape ST, saying "we do have an outstanding legacy and a really good foundation with the Focus ST... I think [an Escape ST] is a fantastic idea." That's far from an actual commitment, of course, and Hughes was quick to point out he "really can't comment on future products," but it's the strongest endorsement we've heard yet from Ford.
In fact, as recently as April, there were reports that Ford definitively did not plan on giving the Escape the enthusiast-focused ST treatment. Those reports might have spoken too soon.
If Ford does make an Escape ST, it might just manage to recapture many of the Focus ST's old customers with its compact sizing and relatively low curb weight - two attributes that make it a more lively vehicle than the Edge or Explorer. It gets better, because one of the more likely engine possibilities is Ford's potent 2.3-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder, which powers the new fourth-generation Focus ST in Europe. In that application, it produces a stout 276 horsepower and 309 lb-ft of torque.
The obvious bad news in all of this: a manual transmission option seems entirely unlikely. Will American driving enthusiasts really settle for an automatic-only ST with a significantly raised center of mass? We may find out.