Ford’s third-generation Focus RS is shaping up, with an all-new four-cylinder engine good for 350bhp, and with clever tech to help the front wheels put that hefty power down.
The bad news is that the RS is unlikely to surface before 2014-15, although Ford executives are considering unleashing it earlier in the car’s lifecycle than with previous generations. The good news is that executives are talking openly about the prospect of an RS, and drawing up the £27k super-hatch’s specification.
So what engine will the new Ford Focus RS have to produce 350bhp?
Its engine is set to be a 2.3-litre Ecoboost engine, which is under development in North America and tipped for the next Mustang sports car. ‘The 2.3 is coming but it’s not in use yet,’ said a Ford source. ‘300 to 350bhp is the range we should consider.’ The engine will feature direct injection and turbocharging, to boost power while optimising fuel consumption.
The Mk2 Focus RS mustered 301bhp from its wonderful 2.5-litre five-cylinder engine, which was then cranked up to 345bhp for the limited edition RS500. Expect RS Mk3 peak power approaching 350bhp but from four cylinders: Ford has moved away from that Volvo-sourced five-pot, and emissions regulations will kill it off once and for all in 2013.
Will the new Focus RS be four-wheel drive?
The flagship Focus will also stick to front-wheel drive, with Ford ruling out all-wheel drive. ‘I’m not sure it would deliver a better car,’ said our source. ‘It’s a significant weight increase, it impacts on the platform, and you can’t recover the additional cost of all-wheel drive [in the list price].’
The new RS will almost certainly redeploy the RevoKnuckle front suspension, used (with limited success) to counter torque steer on the last Focus RS. Inserting the knuckle into the front suspension helps suppress the steering wheel’s see-saw action on hard acceleration. The RevoKnuckle isn’t fitted to this year’s Focus ST. ‘But in my view, the Revoknuckle is not a one-off,’ said our Ford source, with a twinkle in his eye.
This new Focus ST – available in the UK this summer – will be more comfortable and refined than its five-cylinder predecessor, with Volkswagen’s Golf GTI a benchmark car for the development team. That smoother character leaves space in the portfolio for the no holds-barred, new generation Focus RS – and as there's no Focus three-door, the RS will come for the first time as a five-door model. While we wait for it, we’ll have Focus ST and Fiesta ST to keep us happy, with both cars set to be launched in 2012.
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