Bosses at Ford have started to talk candidly for the first time about a firebreathing new performance flagship – and Auto Express has all the details.
The big news is that the third-generation RS will get a huge hike in power. The highly modified 2.0-litre EcoBoost turbocharged engine is set to eclipse the 301bhp output of the 2.5-litre five-cylinder turbo in the previous version, with an output as high as 380bhp. That would be more than even the limited-edition Focus RS500, which delivered 350bhp.
Gunnar Herrmann, vehicle line director for Ford’s small car range, has been widely reported as saying: “I think [more power for the next-generation RS] is sustainable. With the RS500, we went up to 350bhp and some of our development units went up to 380bhp. And they had more torque.”
What’s more, the new RS will still be front-wheel drive. Herrmann added: “I think we stay with our two-wheel-drive strategy [for the new RS], which I think was well executed [for the previous version].”
This news comes as shock. Extracting anything over 300bhp from a 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo would be no easy task; it would be one of the highest outputs of any mainstream performance car. But Herrmann believes it can be done – and if the RS delivers, it’s likely to rocket from 0-60mph in around 5.5 seconds and go on to an electronically limited 155mph top speed.
As for the chassis, Herrmann’s comments suggest the new hot Focus will get an updated version of Ford’s clever RevoKnuckle front suspension. This uses a modified McPherson front strut that allows more of the tyre to stay in contact with the road when cornering hard, and reduces torque steer. Plus, the comments appear to rule out rumours that the RS would get an electric motor to drive the rear wheels, maximising traction.
However, Herrmann clearly believes the new chassis can handle extra power. So, as well as getting updated suspension, the RS is likely to employ an even more sophisticated version of the firm’s torque vectoring system, which cleverly delivers torque to the front wheels without excessive wheelspin.
At the moment, there are no official plans for a three-door version of the latest Focus – although a coupe model is still on the cards – so our exclusive images show how the five-door RS could look. As with the forthcoming Focus ST, which will be five-door only, it’s easy to see how the practical shape can be made more muscular with a bodykit, gaping front grille and details such as a central exhaust and big rear wing.
Bosses have yet to reveal a launch date for the new RS, although it’s still at least two years away. However, fast Ford fans won’t have to wait too long for hot ST versions of the Focus and Fiesta to arrive. The wraps will be pulled off both models for the first time at next month’s Frankfurt Motor Show.
The Focus ST features a 247bhp 2.0-litre EcoBoost turbo, and is scheduled to land in dealers before the end of the year. Its sizzling Fiesta brother is likely to get a 1.6-litre EcoBoost with 200bhp, and goes on sale in the spring.