Just 1,500 of the 202bhp ST-200 five-door hatchbacks and estates (both ú23,000 on-the-road since price revisions in July) will be allocated to the UK in one year out of the 12-month total build of 5,000, and early indications are that Ford will have no problems shifting them. A spokesman said: 'There has been very strong interest in the ST200 from both fleet and retail contacts. We expect demand to exceed supply.'
While the car shares some muscular styling cues from the British Touring Car Championship Mondeo with side skirts, twin exhaust tailpipes, discreet rear spoiler, bright mesh grille and 17-inch 14-spoke alloy wheels, the overall emphasis is on insurance-friendly grand touring rather than boy racing - a position echoed by Vauxhall with the just-launched Vectra GSi.
The 2.5-litre engine is a beefed-up version of the quadcam light-alloy Duratec V6 in the ST24. Output is up by 35bhp to 202bhp (hence the ST-200 tag) as a result of modifications to cylinder heads, camshafts, manifolds and exhaust system. These changes, along with tuned suspension and steering, contribute to a top speed potential of 145mph and a 0-60mph time of 7.8 seconds.