Ford has dropped the biggest hint yet that a new Ford Focus RS super-hatch is deep into development. Our exclusive images – which are based on the recently facelifted model – show how the world’s best-selling car will be turned from a family hatchback into one of the fastest front-wheel-drive cars ever made.
Chief operating officer for Ford of Europe, Barb Samardzich, told us at a recent company event in Milan: “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 backed up Samardzich’s comment, saying: “We have a rich heritage of RS cars, and we’re not about to let any competitors overtake us in that respect. You can rest assured that Martin [Smith, director of design, Ford of Europe] and his team are fully focused on the future of our performance strategy.”
A refreshed Focus ST is scheduled to arrive this summer. It’s expected to make its worldwide debut at the Goodwood Festival of Speed at the end of next month – which is a reflection of the UK’s importance in the global hot hatch market. But while the styling will be significantly more extreme than the current model’s, there won’t be any power boosts for its 247bhp 2.0-litre turbo, leaving room for a more potent RS above it.
The hot favourite to feature under the bonnet of the Ford Focus RS is a new direct-injection 2.3-litre four-cylinder EcoBoost turbo, developed for the entry-level version of the latest Mustang. While it’ll produce 304bhp in the Mustang, which will arrive in the UK towards the end of 2014, it could be tuned to as much as 350bhp for the Focus RS – matching the previous-generation limited-edition RS500.
To save weight and keep the cost down, the new RS will stick with a front-wheel-drive layout rather than four-wheel drive, and employ an electronic differential to maximise traction in all conditions. The previous-generation car’s clever Revoknuckle front suspension design will be carried over to help minimise torque steer, while in the absence of a three-door Focus, the RS will be offered as a five-door for the first time.
To cement its place as the most extreme hatchback Ford’s ever built, the RS will get wider tyres, bigger brakes and a louder exhaust than the Focus ST. The brand will pull no punches with the styling, either – expect a feast of intakes, vents and spoilers, as our illustrations show.
The cabin looks set for an aggressive overhaul, too, featuring racing-style Recaro bucket seats and race-inspired materials such as Alcantara. Whatever package Ford decides to go with, we won’t see the Focus RS in showrooms anytime soon. If it does get the green light it should appear towards the end of the car’s lifecycle. As the Focus is due for replacement in 2017, it’s looking like 2016 before the production model arrives.
That’ll put Ford in the middle of a battle for the Nurburgring front-wheel-drive lap record – but there are plenty of other impressive contenders in the running.
Ford is aiming to keep the price at around £27,000; if it can hit that figure, the RS will offer one of the best £-per-horsepower figures on the road. Whatever package Ford decides to go with, we won’t see the Focus RS in showrooms anytime soon.
If it does get the green light it should appear towards the end of the car’s lifecycle. As the Focus is due for replacement in 2017, it’s looking like 2016 before the production model arrives.
For more on the history of Ford RS, click here.