Third-generation Ford Focus RS, powered by 2.3-litre EcoBoost engine, is now confirmed; due to go on sale in 2016
18 July 2014

Ford is launching an all-new, third generation Ford Focus RS, as part of a programme to produce 12 new high performance models under a new Ford Performance banner between now and 2020.

It could make its global debut as soon as the Detroit motor show next month. 

The cars, to be sold in every major Ford market around the world, will be created by a new US-based global team that will combine all of the company’s racing, fast road cars and performance parts businesses under one management.

Speaking from the company’s Cologne headquarters Ford’s global head of product development, Raj Nair, said all Team RS, Ford SVT and Ford Racing projects would amalgamate in a new Ford Performance organisation based at a new technical centre in Charlotte, North Carolina and headed by Dave Pericak, Ford’s new director, global performance.

Future fast Fords would “deliver exceptional performance on the track when required, while providing excellent every day driving”, said Nair. The reorganisation would allow the company to bring its new cars and components more quickly to markets across the world.

According to latest indications, the third-generation Focus RS is again likely to be front-wheel drive. It will draw its power from a turbocharged 2.3-litre, four-cylinder EcoBoost engine seen in the recently launched Mustang

A power output of about 330bhp has been mooted for the RS, while a limited-slip differential and Ford’s innovative, torque-steer-reducing RevoKnuckle front suspension system will again feature in its mechanical specification. 

Recent spy shots have shown the car obn test both at the Nürburgring and near Ford’s world HQ in Dearborn, outside Detroit. They reveal some of the potential RS-specific changes – including a restyled front bumper and twin exhausts that echo that of the previous RS. Bystanders have described the aggressive-looking RS prototype as "very loud". Disguised engineering mules have also been spotted on public roads.

Initially, there were doubts over the prospects for a third-generation Focus RS because the standard donor Focus is a flagship for the ‘One Ford’ global car policy, and because the latest model is made only in five-door form. But Ford — which refers to the current Focus as “the world’s best-selling global nameplate” — has decided to make a virtue of the car’s ubiquity by selling the RS in every one of its major markets. As a result, sales should rocket.

The impending arrival of the new Mustang on European shores, was also seen initially as a setback to a new RS’s changes, but the probability now is that Mustang and RS will be stablemates under the global Ford Performance banner. According to Ford of Europe’s chief operating officer, Barb Samardzich, research has shown that the buyers of Focus ST, Focus RS and Mustang models are different types of customer, and the models actually complement one another in a bigger range.

The business case for the Focus RS has also been strengthened by the fact that it can be built on the same production line as the standard car and will share an engine with the Mustang, albeit in a transverse application instead of a longitudinal one. Such things improve the company’s economy of scale and allow the Focus RS to be sold in markets its predecessors never penetrated.

Sources say the Mustang-derived 2.3-litre EcoBoost engine will have about 10 per cent more power in the new Focus RS than the 301bhp turbocharged 2.5-litre, five-cylinder that powered its predecessor. If the new model does have about 330bhp, its peak torque is also likely to rise beyond the already-generous 324lb ft of the previous model.

Although power is probably going up, fuel economy is set to improve by about 20 percent, up from the 30.5mpg of the previous model. The engine — and the whole car — should also be lighter than before, aiding performance and dynamic ability. 

Ford insiders confirmed last year that four-wheel drive had been tried for the new RS in early engineering studies but engineers had decided to stick with the front-wheel drive formula of previous models.

A six-speed manual gearbox will be a standard equipment and to help the new Focus RS get its hefty power and torque onto the road, the car will again have a mechanical limited-slip differential, further tame any tendency to torque steer with the RevoKnuckle front suspension system.

Among the other changes over a Focus ST, on which the new RS will be based, is a lowered chassis, with a firmer, sportier suspension set-up.

Recently-spied test mules also start to give clues about the styling of the new RS – in particular, the adoption of twin exhausts, extra cooling area at the front of the car, 19-inch alloy wheels wearing Michelin Pilot Super Sport tyres and larger brakes.

Expect the styling to follow the blueprint of the previous Focus RS, with a bodykit, rear wing and rear diffuser among the design and aerodynamic features.

The launch of the new Focus RS is now not expected before mid to late 2016, with a reveal at the 2016 Goodwood Festival of Speed one potential option. Indeed, Ford gave the revised Focus ST a global reveal at Goodwood earlier this year.

As with its predecessors, the third generation Focus RS will provide a swansong for the current Focus. The performance version be on sale for a year or so before the standard model is replaced in 2017-2018. No indication has been given on price, but expect it to come in below £30,000.

Read more about the rivals the new Ford Focus RS will face off against.

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Comments
21

19 July 2014
Will be interesting to see if Ford can achieve those claimed weight reductions. The 2015 Mustang was also supposed to be lighter than the previous model. Seems it will actually be a little heavier. Also wonder if American input will alter the handling characteristics of the car. In any case, 2 years is a long way off. There's a lot of fossil fuel to be burned before then.

17 October 2014
I think this is just a logical step by Ford given that the Golf is still being produced in R spec. But unlike VW I think Ford is too slow to adapt to new trends which in fact becomes the status quo. LED lights should be more common on Fords and so too is the need to get rid of the oh so 90s beesting aerial, on today's cars it looks so out of place- It's time- Ford.

19 July 2014
@Tuatara- Your post about weight has no weight ( pardon the pun ) its all about the performance. So far the new car has been greatly received by the motoring pres and fans alike. I saw it at goodwood and it is a step up on the old car, it could hold its own alongside lesser Ferraris and Porsches in a carpark. The engine is also lighter and more efficient that the old car with all round independent suspension. I prefer a few kilos gain with improved performance over a lighter car just for the sake of it. So I have no doubt that this RS would thrash the opposition when it arrives, its only badge snubbery by the media that gives it a hard time.

19 July 2014
Factczech wrote:
@Tuatara- Your post about weight has no weight ( pardon the pun ) its all about the performance. So far the new car has been greatly received by the motoring pres and fans alike. I saw it at goodwood and it is a step up on the old car, it could hold its own alongside lesser Ferraris and Porsches in a carpark. The engine is also lighter and more efficient that the old car with all round independent suspension. I prefer a few kilos gain with improved performance over a lighter car just for the sake of it. So I have no doubt that this RS would thrash the opposition when it arrives, its only badge snubbery by the media that gives it a hard time.
Fair comment. The Nissan GTR does not suffer from its heft. Also agree with you on the looks front if the RS is anything like the artist's impression

19 July 2014
Just the starting point for some current RS owners, i've seen.heard,watched some running with as much as 600bhp,which is just plain crazy,the norm for modding seams to be about 425-450 bhp,so,why is Ford putting out this relatively tame effort?

Peter Cavellini.

17 October 2014
Factczech... the stuff you are talking about costs money. Then Ford will have to charge more for their cars. And who apart from a car nut is going to notice? Their strategy seems to be to offer premium dynamics but cut price everything else.

19 July 2014
Tame? I think Ford spot on with this...as long as they don't take too long about it. If they can produce a 330bhp hot hatch that looks as good as the impressions and drives as good as we know they can....for under £30k.....they will have the measure of the competition. (and no lol, I don't work for Ford!)

20 July 2014
Crixter@ 70bhp down on the R400 Golf,and no matter how good it looks or drives,that's a lot of horse power down,plus, i think the R400 will be 4WD too,price doesn't come into it,because if you can afford £30K along with the running costs etc,stepping up to £35-40K isn't a whole lot more.

Peter Cavellini.

19 July 2014
Let's hope that the next-generation Focus platform will be more suited to 4WD adaptation without raising the ride-height. Sharing the development costs across the platform should make it more cost effective.

17 October 2014
Thanks to One Ford putting the US Focus back in-line with the European one the RS is now a reality for the US. The tuner/small hotrod market is comparatively small but very strong and there are a lot of people who would love to have this over a Civic Si or Golf GTi. I can't wait for it!

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