The just-released fourth-generation Ford Focus ST could be the last-gasp non-electrified performance hatchback from the Blue Oval brand.
Ford Performance Europe manager, Stefan Muenzinger, indicated to Australian media on a phone conference that the ever-tightening grip of European emissions regulations is almost certain to mean there won’t be pure petrol hot hatches after the current crop of Focus ST and Fiesta ST models run their race.
“Manufacturers must meet CO2 targets,” he said. “I think the answer is somewhat yes [these are the last of their kind]. If you do a fully conventional ‘RS style’ product with CO2 emissions above 200g/km, that really hurts you for your overall fleet compliance. It has a negative impact due to CO2 and penalties."
“I can’t talk about successors,” Mr Muenzinger said. “From a fully conventional hot hatch – in the C-segment – I can’t be too specific about future product plans, but it’s tough to do a fully conventional hot hatch in that segment in Europe.”
That opens the door to an electrified hot hatch to come after the current-generation Focus ST. Ford has plug-in hybrid tech in place in models like the upcoming Escape, and there’s also the electrified Mustang Mach-E that will no doubt offer huge levels of performance.
So it seems that the trickle down to smaller models is likely, and Mr Muenzinger indicated there could be something coming in the future from Ford Performance.
“As you can imagine there are all sorts of studies ongoing. I can’t give you any timeframe, but we’re looking at what customers would like and it’s under consideration, absolutely,” he said.