Ford has ceased development of the Fiesta RS, claiming that it was impossible to make a sound business case for the car. Although demand was likely to be strong in the UK, other European markets showed insufficient interest in a £17k Fiesta to make the project financially viable. The concept version of the Fiesta RS was shown at the Geneva Motor Show last March and again at Birmingham in May. Ford insiders had insisted that the production version was less than two years away and that it would be powered by a 200bhp 2.0-litre engine. But the project has now been canned. Jost Capito, the head of Ford’s TeamRS performance division, admitted that the company ‘just can’t get the figures right’. After losing a rumoured £4500 per car on the image-building Focus RS, and with Ford still struggling globally, the Fiesta RS needed to be more than just a ‘halo car’. ‘We did factor the marketing benefits of an RS model into our calculations,’ said Capito, ‘but it still wasn’t enough. TeamRS is a new lifestyle brand and we need to be able to walk before we can run. I don’t want to be seen as a man who loses money.’ Even if the financial climate changes and the RS does become viable, Capito said ‘it would be at least 18 months before the car was production ready.’
Ford accepts that showing the RS concept at Geneva and Birmingham was a mistake because it overshadowed the Fiesta ST and created interest the company can’t satisfy. Ford now wants to shift attention to the new 220bhp Focus ST, which will be launched at the Geneva show in March and go on sale in the UK in November.