We seriously hope so.
With Ford's entire sedan and hatchback lineup now discontinued, performance models like the Fiesta ST and Focus ST feel like relics of a bygone era. Ford Performance has released ST-branded crossover models like the Edge ST and Explorer ST but they don't capture the magic of their discontinued predecessors. Ultimately, the Edge and Explorer are just too large to ever feel truly sporty like the little hatchbacks that precede them. But what about a smaller Ford Escape ST?
Reports have emerged claiming that Ford has no plans for an Escape ST and the same holds true for an ST variant of the Ford Kuga (the Escape's name outside of the US). However, industry analysts say otherwise.
"More and more automakers are dressing their crossovers in performance guises to help keep customers interested in their products and attract different types of buyers. Ford has already trickled the ST badge to the Edge and Explorer, it seems a natural progression to offer it on the Escape. As sales show, the Escape could use a boost as it is competing in an expanding segment filled with some very good products. Adding a performance variant could be key to putting some of those buyers back on the radar," said Paul Waatti, AutoPacifc analyst, to CarBuzz.
It wouldn't be too difficult for Ford to develop an Escape ST. Since it rides on the C2 platform, which also underpins the European Focus ST, it could easily use the same 2.3-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder producing 276 horsepower and 309 pound-feet of torque. We doubt it would include a manual transmission, but an Escape ST would at least be a more admirable replacement for current Focus and Fiesta ST owners looking for a new ST-branded vehicle.
The larger Edge and Explorer ST models are simply too large and removed from what made the original ST cars enjoyable. Moreover, the 2021 Ford Bronco Sport - the platform-mate to the Ford Escape - is expected to feature a 2.3-liter EcoBoost engine. Things appear plug-and-play, really. If Ford were to build an Escape ST, it wouldn't have any competition in the US as none of the other compact crossovers are offered with a performance variant. Unless the Volkswagen Tiguan R comes to the US, that is. An Escape ST would also ben interesting, albeit a larger alternative to the upcoming Hyundai Kona N.
Our hopes for a spiritual successor to the old ST cars could also rest with the European Ford Puma, which is set to have its own ST variant. Not only will the Ford Puma ST offer the same 1.5-liter turbocharged three-cylinder found in the European Fiesta ST, but it will also be available with a six-speed manual transmission. Ford has made no confirmation that the Puma will be sold in the US but we could potentially see it being brought over and sold as a replacement for the aging EcoSport.