Leftlane Insider: Ford Taurus ST to arrive early next year

For the last few weeks, the internet has been abuzz with rumors about the possible return of a performance-oriented Ford Taurus for the 2010 model year, when the large sedan will receive a major redesign. So, is a hotter version of the 2010 Taurus really coming?

SHO enough.

First things first. You may not actually see the return of the "SHO" nameplate. Sources indicate to us that Ford may very well take a cue from across the pond and adorn the sedan with an "ST" badge.

The regular 2010 Taurus that Alan Mulally said they "should have made originally," is confirmed to debut at NAIAS 2009 and on sale a few months later. We feel pretty confident that the ST model will also debut in Detroit. However with NAIAS more than half a year away, things could certainly change. We wouldn't be shocked to see the ST model held over to debut at the 2009 Chicago Auto Show.

When the ST does debut, it's going to be packing Ford's new 3.5-liter, twin turbo, V6 motor. Previously known as the "Twin Force" motor, Ford has now re-branded it with the much more sedate "EcoBoost" name. Even with its less aggressive name, this forced-induction V6 will be tuned to produce 350 horsepower. This will put the Taurus in a heated battle with Chrysler's 340hp 300C, and will far exceed Chevy's 303hp Impala SS, if falling a little short of the Pontiac G8 GT's 361hp. We've been told to expect a zero to 60 time in the low-to-mid 6-second range.

Suspension-wise, the ST will feature a sport tuned version of Ford's new SR1 (Shock Ratio 1) suspension. The SR1 setup is a new independent rear suspension that will debut on Lincoln's MKS. Inside sources tell us not to expect huge hood scoops and massive spoilers. Rather, the ST will continue its role as a "sleeper," rolling on 20s and sporting a few moderate chrome accents in the front and rear fascia.

At the factory, Ford will be hoping for a return to the cult following that the SHO enjoyed in the '90s. Roughly 12-15% of the 2010 Tauruses that come down the production line will wear ST badges.

The last major nugget we hear about the ST concerns the drive wheels. If you're like us, 350hp to the front wheels sounds like a supremely bad idea. We're talking Crystal Pepsi bad. Instead of having you spin your tires through first and second gear, the ST looks ready to come with an AWD setup only. If not, we anticipate a fresh hole in the ozone layer solely from Taurus ST tire smoke.

Look for the Taurus ST to be available by next summer.

Words by Chris Doane.