Ultra-hot 400bhp version of the Ford Focus RS looks less likely to make production due to a weak business case
Julian Rendell
24 October 2016

The super-hatch Ford Focus RS500 is on the verge of being canned because the business case for the model is looking weak.

Although the project hasn’t yet been officially called off, sources only give the RS500 a 30% chance of making production.

Ford had been planning the RS500 with a power hike to near-390bhp, plus track-focused handling and more aggressive styling to sit above the hugely-successful 345bhp RS. Sightings of a test car (shown below) suggest the model's development was already underway.

However, the RS500 has run into a couple of obstacles, one of which is where the RS500 will fit in with Ford’s other performance models - most notably the 410bhp Mustang 5.0 V8 GT and 526bhp Mustang Shelby GT350.

"It could be treading on other cars’ toes," according to well-placed sources.

Overlap with the Mustangs is not such a problem for Ford Europe, which believes there is a market for both the RS500 and Mustang.

However, in the US it is understood to have put a question mark over the RS500 and whether Ford’s American dealer network wants the car.

Without US sales, Autocar understands the super-hatch RS500 project is struggling to hit its internal project forecasts.

Ford is understood to have looked at an ‘RS500-lite’, built around solely European sales, but the smaller budget would have cut back on the project’s technical content. "Then it might dilute the RS brand," another source told Autocar.

Time is also pressing on a decision, with the window to get the RS500 into production narrowing as the current Focus heads towards run-out in late 2017.

Even the brilliant current RS, one of Autocar’s few five-star cars, took a huge effort to push through the strict Ford new-model project gateways.

Tyrone Johnson, the RS’s chief engineer, told Autocar in May that Ford’s product development chief Raj Nair made the difference and won over Ford bean-counters with persuasive arguments in the project's final meeting.

Nair may need to once again work his magic and intervene to get the RS500 into production.

Under the ‘One Ford’ product development program, all Ford models, including those from Ford Performance, must comply with global legal standards so they can be sold all over the globe.

Our Verdict

Ford Focus RS

Is Ford’s new AWD mega-hatch Focus RS as special as we first thought? And can it beat off stiff competition from the Volkswagen Golf R and Mercedes-AMG A45?

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Comments
6

24 October 2016
no telling what is really happening. One comment to make however is that we would be much less likely to need a RS500 if Ford had a more modern monocoque structure to begin with. All the major suspension components are heavy steel and the structure is not built of the modern Ultra hard steels nor with Aluminum. Its a rather old design. If VW were to use the same Four wheel drive system as Ford their Golf would be hundreds of pounds lighter. Ford have always done things on a very tight and cheap budget, this has benefits but also has a lot of down sides.

25 October 2016
I think they're running out of time. The current shape has just over a year in it by the time they take a decision, finalize design, tool-up, build it the MK4 will be announced.

 

Hydrogen cars just went POP

25 October 2016
There are already remaps out there taking the Focus RS to over 400bhp, and the Ford warranty approved Mountune remap takes it to about 375bhp so in my opinion a 390bhp RS500 model wouldn't be a big enough step up to justify the inevitable price hike (Depending on what other enhancements there are).

25 October 2016
What handicaps it is not the power, it is a good double clutch box which would help emissions, economy and performance.Stop whining, all you manual supporters! move on with progress!
As such I would never buy one over an A45 or RS3-both of which knock it into the weeds performance wise, not to mention superior fit and finish.Golf R is even better value, its a no brainer!

Madmac

29 October 2016
Cancelling one Ford is a start. Now if they'd just scrap the rest of the range as well we'd be spared the gruesome sight of the brand's appalling products altogether.

I don't need to put my name here, it's on the left

 

mfe

29 October 2016
The rivals from Mercedes-Benz and Audi may give it some competition on a runway but when it comes to the corners I doubt they'll get close! Then there's the substantial price difference and added performance of the mountune and other aftermarket kits that would still bring it well under the price of the others. As for the vw it's a great car but not in the same league.

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