DETROIT -- Ford Motor Co. will pull back the curtain on its ’02 SVT Focus 2L engine, which marks the first collaboration on a production powerplant for North America with its Cosworth Technology subsidiary, at this week’s Society of Automotive Engineers exhibition here.

Ford and Cosworth have linked up countless times in Europe on production and racing programs, but the Focus will be the first time U.S. drivers get a taste of the U.K.-based operation’s engineering.

In order to squeeze 170-hp out of the Mexican-built Focus powerplant, modifications had to be made to the 4-cyl. Among them are several "firsts" for the automaker, including use of variable cam timing for the intake valves and an under-body-only catalyst system. In addition, the cylinder head was revised with wider-diameter intake valves to increase flow-through and increased intake and exhaust valve spring rates. New cast aluminum pistons with larger valve relief pockets are mated to new forged connecting rods, and the engine’s compression ratio has been hiked to 10.2:1 from 9.6:1. A dual-stage intake manifold is employed, and a dual-mass flywheel is included for smoother operation -- the first application for a front-drive Ford in North America.

The result is 40-hp more output than the base Focus and 10 lbs.-ft. extra torque -- to 145 lbs.-ft. at 5,500 rpm, 85% available at just 2,200 rpm.

Despite the increased power, the SVT model still complies with National Low Emission Vehicle and California Low Emission Vehicle standards. It also meets Stage IV emissions standards in Europe. To accomplish that, engineers were able to shorten off catalyst light-off time without detracting from performance by utilizing a 4-2-1 tubular exhaust manifold coupled to an underbody catalyst. Spark is retarded during cold starts, heating up the exhaust to more quickly light off the converter for cleaner exhaust.

Ford won’t feature the Cosworth name on U.S.-market Focus SVTs, but the operation could get billing in Europe where the car will be sold as the Focus ST170. Only 7,500 SVTs will be built. Prices are expected to start around $18,000. o