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Ford Focus RS confirmed for Australia


Fast Ford fans in Australia are among the big winners from a decision to make the next new Focus RS from Germany into a global model.

The turbo-powered pocket rocket is still more than a year away but will eventually sit alongside the new-age Mustang in Ford showrooms.

There are scant technical details yet, but the big news according to insiders is that the RS will be all-wheel drive for the first time — good news, too, because it is likely to have a 2.3-litre four-cylinder turbo petrol engine making as much as 260kW.

The last RS was a three-door hatch that sold in Australia until the end of 2010, although it was powered by a five-cylinder turbo engine developed by Volvo.

"To earn the RS badge, the vehicle has to be a no-compromise driver's car that can deliver exceptional performance on the track when required while providing excellent everyday driving," says Ford global product development boss Raj Nair.

RS test cars have already been spotted in Europe, running five-door Focus ST bodywork to disguise the hard-edge mechanical package that will make the car a rival to everything from the Subaru STI to the Audi RS3 and Mercedes-Benz A45 AMG.

"We haven't confirmed the timing yet but it's likely to be in 2016," says Ford Australia spokesman Neil McDonald.

"There's always keen interest from enthusiasts who like a little more from their performance hatches. We already have the Fiesta ST and Focus ST in the stable so the RS is certainly a car that will sit well with the ST models.

"However, the RS will challenge some of the premium Euro 'hot hatches' and appeal to a different audience."

The previous RS was a hit in Australia, even though it was priced at $59,990 and only 315 were imported from Europe.

"Many have ended up being quite collectable," McDonald says.

The big difference is that the Focus RS will not be a limited-edition model.

There will be a regular production run when it joins more than a dozen other global models planned by 2020.