Great post! I think that that this is also true for the normal Focus Mk1 vs. Mk.3.
I've found that my Mk.1 Focus SE 2.3L (same engine as the old ST, pretty decent suspension) feels much lighter on it's feet that the new Mk.3's I've driven (only S/SEL). It is surprisingly agile and has excellent steering for the class. The SVT must be fantastic. I remember CAR Magazine's 2000 article on the Mk.1...they raved about the agility of the Mk.1 and the fantastic job that Richard Parry-Jones did developing it. It's a pretty underrated car here in the US.
The new regular Focus feels similar to a normal VW Golf (not a bad thing, just different).
I can't wait to drive the ST, though. How do you find the variable EPAS?