Although it is yet to turn a tyre in anger on Australian soil, Ford’s Focus RS hot hatch is already in the early stages of development for an even hotter model.
Don’t expect any serious advance on the 2.3 litre turbo four-cylinder engine’s 257kW and 440Nm (470Nm on overboost) however, with the engine already close to its developmental limits from a factory point of view.
Instead Autocar reveals that Ford will opt to make a track-honed lightweight special, built in limited numbers.
Ford is already making use of lightweight aluminium in its latest F-150 pickup in the US, as well as having previously shown a lightweight concept of the Fusion (sold as the Mondeo is Australia) that sheds over 360kg compared to standard production trim.
For the Focus RS Ford is expected to turn to forged aluminium suspension components, carbon ceramic brake rotors, polycarbonate glazing, and carbon fibre reinforced polymer bodywork to shed unwanted kilos.
Noise insulation will be stripped out, and ‘unnecessary’ interior components will be left behind - Don’t be surprised to see a set of lightweight racing seats up front, with the rear seat left out entirely.
A set of carbon fibre wheels, as seen on the Mustang Shelby GT350R, could also find their way on to the spec sheet, with the overall weight saving expected to be around 100kg compared to the standard Focus RS.
Powertrain changes are tipped to include the addition of an electronically controlled limited slip front differential, tuned to work with the all wheel drive system of the RS, with the possibility that this unit could also be added to the regular RS as a running change.
The biggest news though is the the potential replacement of the current six-speed manual transmission with a six-speed dual-clutch automatic. While the auto is sure to offer quicker shifts and better on-track results, the news comes as blow to three-pedal enthusiasts.
As it currently stands, Ford’s current PowerShift dual-clutch transmission isn’t rated to handle the torque output of the RS (or less powerful Focus ST), so will need a thorough re-work to be brought up to task.
With high-spec hatches such as the Mercedes-AMG A45 and Audi RS 3 in its sights Ford is looking to drop the 0-100km/h sprint times for the Focus RS down from 4.7 seconds to a point closer to the 4.3 second RS 3 and 4.2 second A45.
Pricing, likewise is also set to move up to join the premium contenders, with UK estimates putting the limited-build lightweight RS beyond the starting price of the A45 and RS 3, if that’s the case Australian pricing could sit beyond the $75-80,000 pricing of the premium pair.
That’s a big step up from the $50,990 starting price of the regular Focus RS, but if Ford can deliver on their development goals, it may have a sellout hit on its hands.
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