When CAR road tested the Ford Focus RS, testers agreed that the car was a brilliant, hard-edged hot hatch. But when the next generation Focus débuts next year, the RS will be even hotter – a 200 kW-plus output, four-wheel drive and an active differential.

When CAR road tested the Ford Focus RS, testers agreed that the car was a brilliant, hard-edged hot hatch. But when the next generation Focus débuts next year, the RS will be even hotter – a 200 kW-plus output, four-wheel drive and an active differential.


CARtoday.com reported on Friday that the current ST170 would be replaced by late-2005 with two different versions of the current model. The first will be fitted with the Mondeo ST220's 166 kW 3-litre V6 petrol unit (Ford claims the future Focus ST220 will catapult from zero to 100 km/h in less than 7 seconds). The second version will have a high-performance diesel under the bonnet.


But Ford will be introducing the ultimate performance Focus, the RS, with specification and road behaviour more closely resembling the WRC Focus in 2007. It is a mystery which engine from the Ford Group will do duty in the next RS… One option is the 206 kW 2,3-litre direct injection turbocharged Mazda engine (as shown in Mazda’s 6 MPS concept in 2003), or an upgraded version of the 191 kW 2,5 T five-cylinder used in the Volvo S60 R.


The Mazda engine is the most likely. It is already being used in the current-generation Focus ZX4 ST in the US, where it has been relabelled Duratec. The engine is restricted to 206 kW for the Japanese market, but claims Ford would be capable of producing a higher power output.


Four-wheel drive represents the major advance over the previous RS. Its output of 158 kW was reckoned to be close to the limit for a front-drive chassis, making an all-wheel drive system and an active centre differential essential for the new RS. The system will have to be based on existing hardware within the Ford stable, which is to be found at Volvo, as the Swedish company is developing an all-wheel drive system for the S40 and V50 – two cars with which the Focus will share its platform.


But the new car will not be short of features despite its greater complexity, and we can expect the products of WRC suppliers Brembo (brakes), Sparco (seats), OZ (wheels), Sachs Racing (dampers), Garrett Technologies (turbocharger) and AP Racing (clutch) to feature once again. The RS will also get a lightly modified interior, hopefully not as garish as the blue-splashed cabin of the old car (see the January edition of CAR).