Ford is putting a renewed focus on performance models following the launch of its new Ford Performance arm, which brings together previous divisions such as RS and Ford Racing under one roof. Ford Performance has pledged to launch 12 models by 2020, including a new Focus RS and the GT supercar, plus versions of the Mustang and F150.
The identity of the other eight models remains under wraps but, speaking to Autocar, Ford Performance manager Tyrone Johnson said that work was under way on a new, higher-performance version of the Fiesta that could theoretically be a Ford Performance product.
Johnson wouldn’t say whether the new Fiesta model would be badged as a faster or replacement version of the ST, or as an RS. However, he confirmed that the performance version would be based on the current chassis, meaning that it would be launched at some point within the next two and a half years.
“There’s more to come from the current Fiesta,” he said, adding that the decision had been made after the global success of the standard Fiesta ST, which was launched in 2013.
Johnson also explained the rationale behind what made a model an ST or RS, something significant in identifying whether it is a ‘true’ Ford Performance product.
ST models are considered ‘enhanced’ versions of existing models, whereas RS cars come in the ‘high-performance bracket’, meaning that they must outperform lesser models in the standard range by a certain amount in a number of objectifiable areas.
When asked whether Ford would consider making a ‘high-performance’ Fiesta (in other words, an RS), Tyrone said: “If there’s a business case and if it’s technically feasible.” When pressed on whether he thought these criteria could be met, he said: “Theoretically, yes.”
Johnson wouldn’t be drawn on confirming any details of the new Focus RS, which is set for production and a launch at the Geneva motor show in March.However, he did confirm plans to launch a Powershift dual-clutch automatic version of the new Focus ST diesel model by the end of the year.
“It’s something we’re looking at closely, and it wouldn’t be an issue to fit Powershift [to that engine],” he said. Such a car would rival dual-clutch versions of the Volkswagen Golf GTD and Skoda Octavia vRS.
However, fitting the dual-clutch gearbox to the petrol ST is much more of a challenge, Johnson revealed. It’s “not impossible, but we’d need to be sure there’s a business case”, he said.