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by Jez Spinks

Development of the Ford Focus RS hot-hatch has been put on hold as Ford concentrates on completing the full range of derivatives being produced off the Focus platform.

Ford is producing up to 11 vehicles from the Focus underpinnings, including a mix of Focus variants such as the Focus Electric car and spin-off models such as the Kuga compact SUV.

All the models will account for about two million global sales annually once on the road, so it’s understandable why Ford’s vehicle line director for small cars, Gunnar Herrmann, says the company also needs to determine the technological and performance direction for the new Focus RS.

“We are not working on [the new] RS right now,” says Herrmann. “It’s just because we have other priorities to clean up and effectively we have to make a final decision on how we proceed [with the new RS]. We have other items to proceed with.

“We’re finishing up the Focus ST launch [which takes place in May], while most derivatives should be on road by May, with Kuga in October, [then] the electric Focus, so it’s very busy right now.”

The new Ford Focus RS will produce more power than the old model (pictured above) that offered 224kW and 440Nm from its 2.5-litre five-cylinder turbo engine.

Ford is still keen to avoid using heavier all-wheel drive hardware underneath, believing it can continue using its distinctive ‘Revoknuckle’ front suspension that works in conjunction with a limited slip differential to help minimise torque steer – the steering wheel wrenching effect that can occur when lots of power is sent through the same wheels steering the car.

The Ford Focus RS is now discontinued globally, with Australia receiving the last batch of production – numbering about 300 – in 2010. That performance also came at considerable expense, with Ford Australia charging $59,990 for the hottest Focus.

Herrmann says driving enthusiasts shouldn’t be too disappointed about the RS delay, however. He says the new Focus ST will be better to drive than its predecessor, which was badged as the Focus XR5 Turbo in Australia.

The new Ford Focus ST, which will retain its European badge for Australia this time around when it arrives towards the end of the year, uses a 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder with 184kW and 360Nm.




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