Currently reading: New Ford Focus RS hinges on hybrid system breakthrough
Engineers are battling to make a new Focus RS possible after a switch to full-hybrid
Julian Rendell
News
3 mins read
11 February 2020

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.

Another engineering issue to be resolved is whether or not the project’s goal can be achieved at a sensible cost, with a performance-oriented gearbox and four-wheel drive system to deliver the much-loved Drift mode that was programmed into a clever GKN differential – key to the old RS’s unique driving characteristics. Integrating that into a hybrid system without escalating project costs would be a challenge.

“The story of all the previous RSs is of the engineers working on the project in their spare time and weekends and coming up with the ideas and concept. On the new one, we’re still waiting for the right concept, especially on the powertrain,” said the source.

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But there is hope that a new Focus RS will at least face a much easier journey to production than the last model, which was squeezed into ex-CEO Alan Mulally’s strict ‘One Ford’ product development straitjacket. As a result, the Focus RS had to pass every global standard set for a new Ford product, after dozens of hurdles were put in front of its engineering development teams.

In fact, the Focus RS project was close to being cancelled because of these problems, until Ford’s then chief engineer Raj Nair stepped in at a product review meeting to guarantee personally that the RS project could be successfully delivered on budget.

Since Mulally retired in 2014, Ford has stripped away the global red tape, allowing Ford Europe to develop market-specific models – such as the just-launched Puma crossover, which earlier this month was crowned What Car? Car of the Year, the first Ford to win the accolade since the Fiesta in 2009.

There is hope that this process, introduced by Ford chairman and former Ford Europe boss Jim Farley, will make it easier to clear the obstacles to a new RS. Another hurdle will be finding the engineering resources while Ford’s product development teams are working flat out on a huge electrification drive.

Around £8 billion is being pumped into a global offensive to deliver 40 new battery-electric, mild-hybrid and plug-in hybrid models by 2022.

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Comments
14

11 February 2020

I wonder, and hope, Ford is able to do an RS car now the bar is so high. In days past RS cars helped burnish its reputation, along with heroes like the Capri Injection, Racing Puma and other special vehicles.

Today, more than ever, Ford and the rest have to engineer everything down to the last penny whereas the base quality and technology engineered into a small BMW, Audi, etc. is of a different order. The Germans have things like active suspension, dynamic safety, and breathtakingly powerful engines, etc all package-ready within their component portfolio. Much as I love the idea of an RS, I fear now that mass-manufacturers are simply beaten from above once they stray into the £35-40k mark. Please tell me I'm wrong!

11 February 2020

...insightful thinkers on staff. That Ford was going to have a nearly impossible time building this new RS at a sensible sports car weight, should have been more than obvious. i postred about this on piston heads moths ago, and no one got it. if this RS is 1700 or 1800 kilos it simply should not be built. Ford has a lot of thinking and engineeering to do, if they think they are going to build a sensibly lightweight sports hatch. It seems very unlikely that they have the budget or will to build such a thing. Without significant (see Toyota Yaris) use of carbon fiber and lightwiegtht batteries this car is a NO GO. 

11 February 2020

2022 or 2023? That's relatively a lifetime away. That's dead in the water. Bye bye RS. R.I.P.

11 February 2020

The idea of a heavy "RS" with big low torque Atkinson cycle engine and CVT transmission is all wrong. It seems to me that Ford should just do what's right for a fast Ford and pay the necessary fines ((acceptable for a low volume model), or not bother. Or alternatively why not reinvent the RS as a performance EV, accepting that it would have only a modest range with today's battery technology?

11 February 2020
LP in Brighton wrote:

The idea of a heavy "RS" with big low torque Atkinson cycle engine and CVT transmission is all wrong. It seems to me that Ford should just do what's right for a fast Ford and pay the necessary fines ((acceptable for a low volume model), or not bother. Or alternatively why not reinvent the RS as a performance EV, accepting that it would have only a modest range with today's battery technology?

Dont see why - if its fast and it handles well, I cant really see the problem, sure theres the weight but thats a problem for any electric or hybrid vehicle at the mo at least, but the instant torque of electric motors overcomes it, thereby negating the atkinson engines low torque.

11 February 2020
typos1 wrote:
LP in Brighton wrote:

The idea of a heavy "RS" with big low torque Atkinson cycle engine and CVT transmission is all wrong. It seems to me that Ford should just do what's right for a fast Ford and pay the necessary fines ((acceptable for a low volume model), or not bother. Or alternatively why not reinvent the RS as a performance EV, accepting that it would have only a modest range with today's battery technology?

Dont see why - if its fast and it handles well, I cant really see the problem, sure theres the weight but thats a problem for any electric or hybrid vehicle at the mo at least, but the instant torque of electric motors overcomes it, thereby negating the atkinson engines low torque.

Or you could just buy a Golf R which, even without any hybrid tech, will probably be cleaner and more economical than a hopelessly complicated and heavy RS.

Sad but true. And trust me, the Golf 8 R will be a blinder.

12 February 2020
manicm wrote:
typos1 wrote:
LP in Brighton wrote:

The idea of a heavy "RS" with big low torque Atkinson cycle engine and CVT transmission is all wrong. It seems to me that Ford should just do what's right for a fast Ford and pay the necessary fines ((acceptable for a low volume model), or not bother. Or alternatively why not reinvent the RS as a performance EV, accepting that it would have only a modest range with today's battery technology?

Dont see why - if its fast and it handles well, I cant really see the problem, sure theres the weight but thats a problem for any electric or hybrid vehicle at the mo at least, but the instant torque of electric motors overcomes it, thereby negating the atkinson engines low torque.

Or you could just buy a Golf R which, even without any hybrid tech, will probably be cleaner and more economical than a hopelessly complicated and heavy RS.

Sad but true. And trust me, the Golf 8 R will be a blinder.

Yeah, give your money to one of the shittiest corporations ever to have existed. To buy an overpriced poorly engineered style-over-substance lowest-common-denominator bogan (chav in your neck of he woods) chariot. That won't handle or go as well as the Focus. Yeah, good advice - you should be a VW PR hack!

A blinder, eh? Will it blind us with all the pollutants that VW has lied about?

:-p

11 February 2020
LP in Brighton wrote:

The idea of a heavy "RS" with big low torque Atkinson cycle engine and CVT transmission is all wrong. It seems to me that Ford should just do what's right for a fast Ford and pay the necessary fines ((acceptable for a low volume model), or not bother. Or alternatively why not reinvent the RS as a performance EV, accepting that it would have only a modest range with today's battery technology?

Agree 100%, they probably should just shelve it and develop a ST with more power and modified chassis.

11 February 2020
Our they could scrap it. Remove a useless car from the portfolio and lower the average CO2 at the same time.

11 February 2020

If this is in doubt, i do wonder how much longer we will still be allowed a V8 Mustang on these shores. 

I am sure one day EVs will be cheap and capable enough to rival the fun 'Fast Fords' have offered in the past, but for now Petrol power isnt clean enough for the EU, and EVs are far too expensive

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