An all-new Ford Focus RS is on the way, and this looks like our very first shot of the new mega-hatch.
It looks a lot like a standard Focus ST but there’s some heavy camouflage around the rear bumper, which – if you look closely – reveals two large exhausts mounted on either side.
The current ST has a centrally mounted exhaust, suggesting that this prototype could well be the RS powertrain-testing mule that we’ve been waiting for. After all, the previous RS had two huge exhausts in each side of the rear bumper.
We’ve pretty much had confirmation from Ford that the RS is on the table, with a 2016 release date looking likely. Judging by the early stages of this prototype, that’s a timescale that seems to fit.
Chief operating officer for Ford of Europe, Barb Samardzich, told us recently of the Focus RS: “I can’t give you any confirmation today, but let’s say there’s a strong desire. Something like that makes a great halo car.” A Ford spokesman went on to say: “We have a rich heritage of RS cars and we’re not about to let any competitors overtake us in that respect.”
Sitting underneath the bonnet of this RS prototype is likely to be a version of the direct-injection 2.3-litre EcoBoost engine found in the latest Mustang line-up. There it produces 304bhp but we reckon 350bhp is more like it for the Focus RS, giving it the kind of punch it’ll need to take on models like the 355bhp Mercedes A45 AMG.
Unlike the AMG, the Focus RS is likely to remain front-wheel drive, with engineering solutions like the RevoKnuckle suspension and an electronic diff used to help minimise torque steer and wheelspin.
Compared with the sober-looking prototype, the RS should get a seriously aggressive overhaul, featuring large spoilers, bulging wheelarches and gaping intakes.
Fast Fords are always affordable – take a look at the Fiesta ST as an example – and we’ve heard that the brand is aiming for a starting price of £27,000 for the Focus RS. At that price it would be more than £10,000 cheaper than an A45 AMG and a few thousand pounds less than a BMW M135i.