The future of a new Ford Focus RS hinges on its engineers creating a high-output, full-hybrid powertrain that fits in with the new EU regime for average fleet CO2 emissions – a challenge that Ford bosses describe as “waiting for a solution”.
A senior Ford executive told Autocar: “We are waiting for our engineering team to come up with a solution on the powertrain and that is not easy given the new fleet CO2 regulations.”
Eighteen months ago, Ford was understood to be looking at a mild-hybrid 48V powertrain. To minimise CO2 figures, the firm now believes the engine has to be a full hybrid. “The mild hybrid is not enough,” said our source.
The challenge of the new fleet average figure – set industry-wide at 95g/km, but varying according to a car company’s mix of vehicles and their kerb weights – now means the Focus RS won’t be seen in 2020 as rumoured. Instead, it is more likely to be launched in 2022/23.
In order to achieve both high performance and low emissions, Autocar understands that Ford has switched its attention to an RS version of the full-hybrid 2.5-litre petrol unit that will power range-topping models of the new Kuga this year. In that application, the Atkinson-cycle 2.5-litre four-cylinder engine and motor deliver 222bhp, with drive through a CVT auto and optional four-wheel drive.
All-wheel drive will be vital to harness the Focus RS’s required power, which is likely to approach 400bhp. The last Focus RS was all-wheel drive and delivered 345bhp and 376lb ft from a 2.3-litre turbo four but equivalent models from Audi and Mercedes have since hiked outputs to nearer 400bhp and beyond.
To achieve a similar output would require a blend of combustion and electrical power – possibly 300bhp from a turbocharged 2.5-litre engine and 100bhp from the electric motor.