Despite earlier reports to the contrary, UK mag AutoExpress claims a new RS will launch in 2014, employing an enlarged 350hp (261kW) 2.3 litre version of Ford’s four-cylinder EcoBoost engine.
The report suggests a move to a larger displacement than the ST’s 184kW 2.0 litre EcoBoost unit, rather than trying to stretch the output of the current engine with a larger turbo.
“If it [the turbo] is too big, and capable of too much power, you lose bottom-end torque and response”, Team RS’ Len Urwin said.
An output of 261kW would far eclipse the previous Focus RS’ 224kW 2.5 litre five-pot, and even exceed the 345HP (257kW) of the limited-build RS 500 version sold internationally.
Like the previous Focus RS, a front-wheel drive layout is expected to continue, due to its cost and weight advantages.
The difficult task of channeling 260-plus kiloWatts through the front wheels could be aided by the use of a sophisticated active differential.
“You could drop a mechanical diff in, as we did with the old Focus RS, but an E-diff would take that a step forward in that you can really optimise traction in all situations”, Urwin said.
If the RS can manage to put such power to the ground, the RS 500’s 5.4 second 0-100km/h could well be trumped also.
Transmission choice is expected to remain solely a six-speed H-pattern manual as with the ST, but an uprated PowerShift dual-clutch auto is being considered.
“There is a trend to go to dual-clutch, but they are heavier. Whether we should have a manual and a PowerShift is still up for debate," Team RS’ Chris Caven said.
Earlier reports suggested that the RS moniker would be applied to the smaller Fiesta this time around, but following Ford’s withrawal from its Fiesta-headed WRC program at the end of the year, a more conventional Focus RS makes more sense.
What won’t be conventional though, is the likely use of the five-door bodystyle, in line with all other third-generation Focus models - making this new model the first Focus RS to be offered with five doors only.
It’s too early to speculate on local availability of the new model, but given the Blue Oval generously brought 315 of the previous RS here, we could be in with a chance...
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