2016 Ford Focus RS snapped at the Nurburgring

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The hotly anticipated new-generation 2016 Ford Focus RS hot hatch looks to have been caught by our spy photographers again, the time at the holy grail of test tracks: Germany’s Nurburgring.

While the car you see here wears ST badges on its tailgate, this does not look to be an update of that version. What lies behind its disguised nose, tail and silver alloy wheels indicate this is something much hotter instead.

Ford Focus RS 6

This latest brace of snaps come about a week after another RS mule was caught near Ford headquarters in Michigan, US. But that mule, which was painted black, lacked this car’s prominent roof spoiler and had more camouflage tape at the front, and was likely an earlier, less advanced prototype.

Like its fellow test car in Michigan, this silver Focus has an exhaust tip on either side of the rear diffuser, differentiating it from the 184kW Ford Focus ST and its centrally-mounted twin-pipes.

Under that flimsy camouflage is clearly a redesigned nose, replete with larger air intakes designed to feed its bigger and more powerful turbocharged engine. By all reports, this engine is a spin on the new Mustang’s 2.3-litre EcoBoost turbo.

Ford Focus RS 8

The EcoBoost motor produces 227kW and 407Nm in the Yankee coupe and soft-top, though is rumoured to be tuned beyond 245kW for the new hot-hatch to give it a healthy boost over the old 224kW five-pot RS and put it within striking range of the 265kW Mercedes-Benz A45 AMG.

As we have written in the past, the third-generation RS will downsize from its predecessor’s Volvo-sourced 2.5-litre five-cylinder turbo in favour of a more environmentally-friendly down-sized four-pot with a blower bolted on.

Ford Focus RS 5

Unlike the AMG, the Focus RS could remain front-wheel drive, with Ford potentially set to dust off its Revoknuckle front suspension set-up and limited-slip differential to counter the effects of torque-steer and help get the power down. Don’t rule out the introduction of all-wheel-drive though…

The RS prototype’s multi-spoke (possibly) 19-inch alloy wheels are one size larger than those on the ST and — if they’re the same as last week’s test mule — are wrapped in grippy 235/35-aspect Michelin Pilot Super Sport tyres.

Ford Focus RS 2

Our spy photographers also believe the test car is fitted with four-piston Brembo brake calipers, which would represent a serious step-up over the ST’s single-piston stoppers.

European reports suggest the Ford Focus RS is still at least 18 months away, predicting a 2016 release date, meaning it would once again arrive late in the lifecycle of the popular compact hatch, which debuted in 2011 and is set to be replaced by 2018.

The previous-generation Ford Focus RS was sold in limited numbers in Australia (about 300 in total) at $59,990.