Normally when a manufacturer releases its own 'spy' pictures of a developmental prototype it means their clutching at marketing straws, but that isn't case with the forthcoming Ford Focus ST.

The 246bhp hot hatch is already high on this year's most wanted list, partly because the current model is a peach, and partly because Ford are pitching it as their first truly global performance car.

Buyers in the US and Asia have never been offered the ST-badged Focus before, and Ford has apparently scoured America and Europe for the most testing roads to produce a world-specific handling balance.

That could be a major challenge, but the car seems to have all the ingredients for success. As well as the high output version of Ford's new 2.0-litre EcoBoost engine, the engineers have promised to build on the ride, steering and handling strengths of the current car.



They've even promised to correct one the current ST's more frustrating features - the high seating position it inherits from the standard Focus.

Matthias Tonn, chief program engineer, said: "The seats and seating position were very good in the previous Focus ST, but the new model is sleeker and the driver will sit lower. The new seats which will provide even more support."

Just one more reason to keep a close eye on Ford's next hot hatch when it goes on sale next year.