The standard Ford Focus shuffles through life partnered with a perfectly adequate, but none-too-thrilling naturally aspirated 2.0L inline 4-cylinder making 160 hp. Mated to the standard 5-speed manual transmission, the car is more sprightly and fun than the 6-speed dual-clutch automatic pairing. The aesthetically more aggressive Ford Focus ST delivers 252 hp and 270 lb/ft courtesy of an Ecoboost 2.0L through a 6-speed manual (thankfully no automatic option available here). The ST also benefits from a host of suspension upgrades that have garnered positive reviews.
The ST is a bona fide hoot, but drives the cost of a Fusion hatch up $5,000, or roughly 26%. That's a mighty chunk of change for a car that starts at $18,625 for a base SE hatchback. It also leaves a gnarly 92 hp gap between the base engine and top shelf Ecoboost. And torque; let's not forget about that. The regular 2.0L 4-pot makes 146 lb/ft of the twisty stuff, leaving it at a 124 lb/ft disadvantage. I think that leaves a little room for something between the mighty ST and the basic SE hatchback.
First and foremost we must address what would power this 'tweener model of the Ford Focus. There must be something that makes more power than the base Focus engine, but not so powerful that it would steal sales from the super ST. If only Ford had such an engine somewhere in their lineup, something from a smaller, hotter version of a hatchback, but where..... Oh, yeah. The freakin' 1.6L Ecoboost from the Fiesta ST. That little party-o'-power makes a wondrous 197 hp and 202 lb/ft. A nice 37 hp, 56 lb/ft boost, but still leaving a nice, cozy 53 hp and 68 lb/ft cushion for the ST. And it's not like this is the only model in which the 1.6L Ecoboost is available, either. It also powers the new Ford Fusion, where it is a scant $795 upgrade over the base 2.5L (even with the 6-speed manual), and the new Ford Escape where it undercuts the 2.0L Ecoboost by $1,195. There is our wonderful power solution, cribbed entirely from other models. Transmission choice should be the only one that makes sense, the same 6-speed manual from the Fiesta ST.
Now, we have to figure out suspension and brakes, and something to dress it up. Unfortunately, the base Focus still has rear drum brakes (really, Ford?!), but Ford offers three different appearance packages that also add read disc brakes. They mostly add other superfluous things that don't necessarily add to the driving experience, so an approximate cost would be hard to pin down for this upgrade. I'll have just the rear discs, please. The suspension for our mid-range Focus has to find a balance between the acceptable and super sporty characters of SE and ST Focuses (Focii?), and should be borrowed from the Titanium Handling Package, which includes "optimized sport suspension components" and 18" wheels, the latter of which I could leave and just take the black-painted 17" wheels that come with the SE Appearance Black Pack. That is, coincidentally, where I'd pick up some of the other appearance add-ons including the piano black grill, black side mirrors, black fog lamp bezels, and black rear spoiler. It's a $795 option, but the configurator on Ford's site requires the SE Appearance package, which is full of fluff and crap I don't want, and Ford wouldn't have to include. The only other exterior extravagance I'd add would be the Full Body Styling kit which adds a small front splitter, painted and sculpted rocker moldings, and a ST-esque faux rear diffuser. I think it looks pretty good, myself, and helps the model stand out.
We now have a more powerful, visually-differentiated, and better handling Focus that fits snugly between the base SE and the hoss ST, without driving up the price with all the options of the Focus Titanium. So, what do we call this wonder Focus. The Sport, of course! Ford has used the sport moniker since the first generation Ford Edge Sport starting in 2009 model year. It was also used on the refreshed 2010 Fusion when it borrowed the 3.5L V6 from the Lincoln MKZ, and now also adorns the Explorer, complete with Taurus SHO drivetrain. All of these offer styling, suspension, and more powerful engines (save for the original Edge Sport) that separate them from their base models and also add a bit of driving character.
There a just a couple of caveats to this idea, unfortunately. All of the Sport models Ford has produced so far have been at the top of the food chain. This strata is already occupied by the ST. Additionally, I seriously doubt Ford would spend the engineering and development time to offer the 1.6L Ecoboost in another hatchback form, as this would be a low-volume model, and they would probably point to both the Fiesta ST and Focus ST as alternatives. How many powertrains does the Focus need after all? We already have the 2.0L, the 2.0L Ecoboost, and an Electric version, and next year they are adding the 1.0L Ecoboost 3-cylinder to this mix as well. That's 4 powertrains in one body. Do they need 5? (Just for reference, the Fusion has 5: 2.5L I-4, 1.6L Ecoboost, 2.0L Ecoboost, Fusion Hybrid, and Fusion Plug-In.)
Alas, I can hope a dream that my perfect Focus could be built, as the Fiesta is a bit tight for me personally, and the ST is a little loud visually, and saving some coin would be nice while still getting a sportier than average Focus. I'd even concede to Ford additionally offering the 6-speed automatic from the Fusion, if they'd build the rest of the car as I spec'd it out. Wishful thinking and a bunch of garage talk engineering aside, I still think it would be a pretty sweet car.