The next-generation version of the Ford Focus ST will be offered with an automatic transmission, according to a fresh report out of Australia.

The chaps over at motoring.com.au claim that "Ford sources" have confirmed paddle-shifters for the upcoming Focus ST, which would open the Blue Oval's C-segment hot hatch up to a wider audience and theoretically allow it to take the fight to the popular Volkswagen Golf GTI.

It's not yet clear whether Ford plans to offer the new Focus ST with a dual-clutch transmission or opt for a tweaked version of the eight-speed torque-converter automatic introduced by the new Focus hatch instead.

The Australian publication added that the next-gen Focus ST would remain front-wheel drive, while a six-speed manual gearbox would still be available. It furthermore suggested that the new model would not feature a detuned version of the 2,3-litre four-pot from the all-wheel-drive Focus RS (as earlier rumours suggested), but rather stick with its 2,0-litre unit, albeit with a little more grunt than the current 184 kW.

In addition, motoring.com.au reported that the new Focus ST would run on 18-inch alloys as standard, with the option to upgrade to 19-inch items, and that it would also employ a tweaked version of the Focus wagon’s four-link independent rear suspension (rather than the torsion-beam arrangement used by the more basic versions of the hatchback).

Of course, it remains to be seen whether the next-generation Focus ST will make it to local shores, after Ford Motor Company of Southern Africa recently confirmed to CARmag.co.za that the new Fiesta ST was not destined for South Africa, citing the country’s poor fuel quality.