Getting a straight answer out of Ford on the next Focus RS is likely getting a concise and clearly-worded response from a politician: no matter how you phrase the question, the reply will be in the form of a non-answer.
While that may frustrate potential customers and Focus RS fans, we understand the realities of the global automotive business. To justify a niche-specific performance car, you need to sell a whole lot of crossovers and family sedans first. That makes Ford reluctant to commit to a car as specialized as the Focus RS.
Britain's Autocar is now reporting that the Ford Focus RS will go on sale (in Europe, anyway) sometime in 2015. That means that Ford has built a business case for its highest-performing hot hatch, justifying it against the likes of the more accessible Focus ST and the brand’s iconic rear-drive pony car, the Mustang.
Thanks to the automaker’s “One Ford” policy, that may mean that overseas customers will have a shot at sampling the Focus RS’ wares, unless Ford decides the car is simply too expensive to export to these shores.
Unlike the Focus ST, which blends equal parts performance and practicality, the Focus RS makes few concessions to things beyond acceleration and handling. It’s priced accordingly, which raises the issue of whether or not Americans will spend that kind of money on a hot hatch, no matter how fast it is.
Under the hood of the next Focus RS will be a turbocharged 2.3-liter four-cylinder engine, also expected to appear in the next Mustang. In Mustang guise, it will be longitudinally mounted, and is expected to make some 243 kW.
For Focus RS duty, the engine will be spun sideways and transversely mounted, with power going to the front wheels. Final output remains a mystery, but it’s a safe bet that the Focus RS will make more thrust from the 2.3-litre EcoBoost engine than the Mustang will.
The once-rumored all-wheel drive is reportedly off the table, too. An electric-drive system for the rear wheels was considered, but deemed to be too expensive. The Escape’s AWD system was also looked at, but it was found to be too bulky for use in the Focus RS.
Instead, torque steer will be addressed by a revised version of the Revoknuckle front suspension that appeared on the last Focus RS.
Like the Focus ST, the new Focus RS is expected to come in five-door flavor only, and the car will use the same “Sound Symposer” found in the ST to deliver the engine’s beautiful noise to the cabin.
Assuming Autocar has the right information, expect the Focus RS to debut in Europe sometime in 2015. We’d call U.S. sales “possible,” though a timetable for a U.S. launch is impossible to predict.