Exclusive: news on the 2015 Focus RS
Paul Horrell reports on the latest developments for Ford’s explosive hot-hatch
The Focus ST build-up and teasing seems endless. For a diversion, I've been hoovering up details about the next thing after that: the 2015 Focus RS.
OK. the car isn't officially signed off yet, but the engineers know exactly what they want, and more importantly how to get it. And it sounds pretty much as pant-explodingly awesome as the last one. ‘You need at least 320bhp,' says our man intimately connected with Team RS, the special engineering division responsible.
Only one fly in the ointment: it won't get the hilarious soundtrack of the high-boost 2.5-litre five-cylinder. The engineers loved the five-pot too, but they say it was far too thirsty. In any case, it came from Volvo, from whom Ford has severed ties.
Instead, the new RS will get a 2.3-litre four, with turbo, direct injection and balance shafts. This engine is timed to go into the Mustang in around 2014, but a RS Focus will probably get extra boost. The engine will also need to be re-engineered for the Focus's transverse mounting. Ford has now developed active noise cancellation and synthesis for the upcoming Mondeo, so the RS could get a tailored synthetic sound anyway.
All that thrust goes to the front wheels. You might wonder, why no Golf R-style 4WD? Well, it's true this platform does have a 4WD derivative, in the form of the next Kuga. But that's a high-riding crossover, and the 4WD system won't fit under a car on a lowered sports chassis without hacking away at the floor. Anyway, Jost Capito, Ford's global hot-car boss, has always said that 4WD adds too much weight for an RS, and that people wouldn't pay extra for it. Our contact says he hasn't changed his mind.
Besides, electronic torque-steer compensation is improving all the time (they claim it's effective on the ST) and the RS will revive the excellent RevoKnuckle front suspension from the old RS. ‘RevoKnuckle is not dead and you'll see it again' says our contact, ‘even though we don't use it on the ST because it's too expensive.' Note to suspension obsessives: the RenaultSport Megane does have something very similar to RevoKnuckle. So does the new 280bhp Astra VXR, and indeed all the Astra three-door range - Vauxhall calls it HiPer Strut.
Bolt to that RS chassis, some big brakes, and some fat tyres, and you've got enormous potential. Then wrap the bodyshell in a shouty set of spoilers and fill the cabin with gripper seats. Unlike the last RS, it will be a five-door. The endless rumours about bodystyles are just that: rumours, with no basis in fact. There's still no three-door or coupe planned for the current generation Focus. Still, as with the ST, an estate is a possibility.
It all adds up to a worthy next stage of high-quality blue-collar hoonery. Bring it on.