Ford's next Focus RS super-hatch will stick with a front-wheel drive, manual gearbox recipe, according to company sources. That's fighting talk, as the likes of Mercedes (A45 AMG) and Audi (RS3 Sportback) have turned to all-wheel drive for their hot hatches. Even BMW offers its M135i in four-wheel drive xDrive guise.
It's also a shot across the bows of Renaultsport – the new RS Clio 200 is, controversially, only available with a double-clutch gearbox.
What specs can we expect from the next Ford Focus RS?
The Focus RS Mk1 and Mk2 might have looked like rally stage refugees, but they sunned all-wheel drive in favour of a front-drive set-up, using clever limited-slip differentials (and RevoKnuckle suspension on the second-gen RS) to tame torque-steer and wheelspin. The new Focus RS will continue that proud, if slightly unhinged tradition.
Ford's new Kuga SUV could have provided its trick all-wheel drive components to the new RS: the fast-acting system shuffles torque around to quell understeer and give the car a neutral balance in fast turns. However, RS division members want RS cars to be playful at the limit of traction, and that means no all-paw gubbins underneath.
A manual gearbox will live on in the next Focus RS, too. Ford is confident its hot hatch customers prefer shifting their own gears, instead of depending on Ford's dual-clutch Powershift gearbox to do it for them. Don't forget the current Ford Focus ST and upcoming Fiesta ST are both strictly stick-shift choices.
Will the next Focus RS get another power bump?
Nothing's been confirmed, but our source didn't bat an eyelid at the prospect of 350bhp being sent through the front wheels of the next Focus RS. That'd put the next Focus RS well above the likes of the 316bhp BMW M135i and Vauxhall's 276bhp Astra VXR. We've already seen a Focus RS get close to the big 350bhp mark: the Mk2's RS500 runout special boasted 345bhp, using a tuned 2.5-litre turbocharged five-cylinder engine.
The next Focus RS will stick to four-pot turbo power, sharing its 2.3-litre motor with the new entry-level Ford Mustang. Ford's next pony car has already been signed off for European sales, and will arrive on this side of the Pond in 2014.
>> Are you pleased to hear RS confirm the flagship Focus is staying old-school? Or should AWD and an auto box have been considered? Sound off by clicking 'Add your comment' below