Ford insiders have confirmed that an even more hardcore version of the 345bhp five-door is under consideration - and it has the potential to be the fastest-accelerating hatchback in history.
Ford’s options for bringing extra grip, performance and excitement to the new RS will be delivered mainly through weight saving and upgrading the RS’s drivetrain. This will be possible in a car with an asking price that could even eclipse the £40,000 of the Ford’s premium-branded opposition.
However, the car’s 2.3-litre four-cylinder turbo petrol engine is already operating close to its maximum and attempts to conjure more power will be hampered by the lack of room for additional cooling capacity.
Because budget constraints have limited Ford’s weight-saving options with the standard RS, there’s plenty of potential for improving the car’s power-to-weight ratio by adding lightness to a more expensive version.
Polycarbonate glazing, carbonfibre-reinforced plastic bodywork, forged aluminium suspension componentry, carbonfibre brakes, less noise insulation and a stripped-out interior could take upwards of 100kg out of the car - even after the drivetrain additions under consideration have been grafted on.
Those additions are likely to consist of an electronically controlled limited-slip differential for the front axle, tuned to work with the GKN-supplied rear drive unit, and a dual-clutch automatic gearbox. A limited-slip front-axle differential is already known to improve the RS’s handling and was under consideration for the standard car, an insider has revealed.
The obvious paddle-shift gearbox option would be Ford’s Powershift transmission, supplied by Getrag, but it is currently rated for engines with peak torque of 332lb ft, so it would need some modification.
Ford’s performance targets for the super-heated RS will be to make it quicker over the benchmark 0-62mph sprint than the latest Mercedes-AMG A45 (4.2sec) and the Audi RS3 (4.3sec). The regular RS’s claim (4.7sec) would suggest there’s plenty to do to meet that target, but company insiders have confirmed that even the standard car is much closer to Germany’s big hitters when fitted with optional 19in forged wheels and Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 semi-slick tyres.
If the potential is there to make the Focus the first hot hatch since the 2010 Subaru Cosworth Impreza STI CS400 to break the 4.0sec 0-62mph barrier, expect Ford to seize it.