Ford plans petrol-electric powertrain for mega-hatch; turbo 2.0 petrol engine; electric rear axle

The RS version of Ford’s new-generation Focus could be powered by both a turbocharged petrol engine and a torquey electric motor mounted on the rear axle, according to senior company sources.

Although the RS Focus has yet to appear on Ford’s confirmed future model cycle documents, the success of the current model has encouraged Ford management to keep the project in pre-development.

The man in charge of Ford’s global development, Derrick Kuzak, confirmed at this year’s Geneva show that the company would build a “global performance version” of the all-new Focus.

Insiders say this global model will use Ford’s turbocharged 2.0-litre Ecoboost petrol engine, producing 250bhp and driving the front wheels.

Ford has just started discussions on what to call the car; hot Fords have been known as ST, SVT and XR in various markets.

A new RS Focus, however, will have to be significantly more powerful — a tricky job when Ford’s Team RS will probably not be able to use today’s Volvo-derived five-cylinder turbo motor, which is good for 345bhp in the Focus RS500.

Team RS, led by Jost Capito, is keen to reflect the strong prevailing environmental concerns within the motor industry with a future mega-Focus.

Very senior sources within Ford have told Autocar that Team RS has started early conceptual studies into matching the 2.0-litre Ecoboost engine with an electric motor mounted on the Focus’s rear axle.

Ford has already explored this technology on the 2005 Reflex concept, and it’s just about to be adopted by Peugeot on the 508 executive saloon.

The advantages of the layout for a high-performance car are manifold. It enables the use of a relatively small-capacity engine, but the strong torque from an electric motor gives the car a considerable performance boost.

It also makes it all-wheel drive without the complexity of a conventional set-up using a power take-off and propshaft.

Electric motors are also relatively compact and can easily be packaged within the type of multi-link rear axle used by the new Focus. Space, however, would have to be found for a battery pack.

A hybrid Focus RS would most likely be able to match the performance of today’s RS500, but with much-improved economy and lower CO2 emissions.

Depending on the size of the battery pack, the RS hybrid would also be capable of running at zero emissions for short distances, a facility that is likely to become essential for American-market sales in the near term.

The chances of the RS hybrid becoming a reality are further underpinned by the move towards greener competition vehicles, exemplified by Porsche’s new 911 GT3 hybrid.

Indeed, last year Capito told Autocar, “We certainly have to guard the RS badge and its motorsport heritage very carefully. We won’t put an RS badge on any type of car; it has to have a race or rally link.”

A hybrid race car is regarded by many in the company as an essential part of Ford’s future competition portfolio.

However, if the electrified rear axle does not make it into Ford’s forward engineering plan, Team RS is also likely to look at Ford’s existing hybrid drivetrain, which is currently used by the Mondeo-sized Ford Fusion in the US.

In its current form, the hybrid drive combines a 156bhp 2.5-litre engine and an electric motor to deliver 191bhp to the front wheels.

The next-generation set-up (which should be offered in the global replacement for the Mondeo) is expected to be more efficient.

Combining the new 2.0-litre Ecoboost engine with an electric motor should deliver north of 300bhp, albeit through the front wheels.

Our Verdict

Ford Focus 2011-2014
A big seller is the 113bhp 1.6-litre diesel in Zetec trim.

Can the Ford Focus capture the hearts and minds of hatchback buyers?

Join the debate

Comments
20

23 July 2010

So, Ford are persisting with front wheel drive, the equivalent of fighting with one arm tied behind their back. Also, the RS will have to be "significantly more powerful" than the current 345bhp. How will they manage that?

I'd like to see Ford give it 4WD and it really would take it to Subaru and Mitsubishi but as long as it stays FWD it won't reach its full potential

I don't mean to be nitpicking the rendering looks identical to the current model.

23 July 2010

[quote Nappeunnom]

So, Ford are persisting with front wheel drive, the equivalent of fighting with one arm tied behind their back. Also, the RS will have to be "significantly more powerful" than the current 345bhp. How will they manage that?

I'd like to see Ford give it 4WD and it really would take it to Subaru and Mitsubishi but as long as it stays FWD it won't reach its full potential

I don't mean to be nitpicking the rendering looks identical to the current model.

[/quote]

Couldn't agree more!! The current RS has lost out in a lot of ways by not being 4WD and i really will be disappointed and down right pissed off if the next one isn't !!

The current Subaru is half the car of the previous generation Impreza and i feel Ford missed out by not filling the gap and so easily could have with a 4WD Focus RS. Lets hope they don't make the same mistake twice!

Anonymous

23 July 2010

[quote kevin2010]Couldn't agree more!! The current RS has lost out in a lot of ways by not being 4WD and i really will be disappointed and down right pissed off if the next one isn't !![/quote] The next Focus will be 4wd - it's going to have an electric rear axle which seems like an intelligent solution to me and you can expect quite a few SUVs to have the same tech I would have thought. As for whether the current Focus RS has lost out for not being 4wd I'd say the argument for trad 4wd systems in 'hot hatches' gets weaker all of the time when you consider how far stability systems and front diffs have come. Not to mention the weight penalties you pay. In fact, an interesting Pepsi challenge is to drive the Golf R and Scirocco R back to back. Both have near identical mechanicals, save that the Golf has 4wd, whilst the Scirocco is 4wd. In 99% of the sort of road conditions you find in the UK, the Scirocco feels more agile, turns in better, feels faster, steers better and is more fun than the Golf. Proof to me that 4wd can actually detract what you want from a hot hatch. I wish they also offered the Golf R as a 2wd car...

23 July 2010

I wonder if ford's bean counters support that aweful, trashy front air intake as it reduces the amount of questionable hued paint necessary per vehicle?

Competance executes, character inspires

23 July 2010

the forthcoming new focus ST, with 2.0 ecoboost engines, could have 250bhp according to autoexpress. If that is the case then the new ST could be faster than the current focus RS. better handling/lighter weight more usable power. would make a few exisiting RS owners a bit glum being beaten by a standard ST.


23 July 2010

[quote Nappeunnom]

So, Ford are persisting with front wheel drive, the equivalent of fighting with one arm tied behind their back. Also, the RS will have to be "significantly more powerful" than the current 345bhp. How will they manage that?

I'd like to see Ford give it 4WD and it really would take it to Subaru and Mitsubishi but as long as it stays FWD it won't reach its full potential

I don't mean to be nitpicking the rendering looks identical to the current model.

[/quote]

Top Gear mag reckoned that the 345hp Focus RS was a hang sight more fun than the 400hp Impreza. I seem to remember the Focus was also faster round the Harewood hill-climb.

Good God, the end of the world is come. I am defending FWD against 4WD!

23 July 2010

I'm confused, it's an RS, so which Ford Motorsport car is it based on? The next RS WRCar is a Fiesta......, not a Focus, has somebody not told Ford.....

23 July 2010

I would have thought that was no real reason for the next Ford RS to have significantly more power.

Given the decision to stick with two wheel drive Ford should concentrate on improving the chassis still further, in order to convince the doubters that four wheel drive is not required.

23 July 2010

[quote AndyRAC]I'm confused, it's an RS, so which Ford Motorsport car is it based on? The next RS WRCar is a Fiesta......, not a Focus, has somebody not told Ford.....[/quote]

focus touring car

23 July 2010

[quote beachland2]

[quote AndyRAC]I'm confused, it's an RS, so which Ford Motorsport car is it based on? The next RS WRCar is a Fiesta......, not a Focus, has somebody not told Ford.....[/quote]

focus touring car

[/quote]

So it'll be LPG-fuelled, will it?

Pages

Add your comment

Log in or register to post comments

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

  • Citroën C4 Grand Picasso
    First Drive
    26 August 2016
    The Citroën Grand C4 Picasso gets tweaked styling, improved tech and new personalisation options to keep it ahead of rivals
  • Car review
    26 August 2016
    Wolfsburg celebrates the GTI’s 40th with its most extreme version yet
  • Kia Optima Sportwagon
    First Drive
    25 August 2016
    New Kia estate looks the part, has good space and handles tidily, but its engine's flexibility and refinement let it down
  •  Kia Optima PHEV
    First Drive
    25 August 2016
    Plug-in hybrid Optima is a practical, tax-efficient PHEV that undercuts rivals and fulfils its main remit well, but keen drivers need not apply
  • Lamborghini Huracán LP610-4 Spyder
    First Drive
    24 August 2016
    Awful driving position aside, drop-top Huracán handles UK roads well. It's more dynamically rounded than its rangemates, but lacks rivals' handling bite