A development vehicle believed to be the new Ford Focus RS500 has been spied testing.
While no confirmation of the powered-up hyper hatch has been given, these photos look to be the first clear evidence that Ford is working on an even more powerful version of the already-manic Focus RS hyper hatch.
Subtle differences between this test vehicle and the ‘regular’ Focus RS point to a more powerful variant, with the bonnet vents - like the original RS500 - and removed fog light trim on the driver’s side, likely used to cool a more powerful version of Ford’s 2.3-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine, which in ‘standard’ RS tune produces 257kW of power and 440Nm of torque to all four wheels.
Otherwise this prototype looks very much like any other Focus RS. However, an RS500 variant is likely to have extensive changes under the skin.
Rumours suggest that the new Focus RS500 will feature the aforementioned upgraded engine, along with a significant weight reduction, suspension tweaks, meatier brakes and even a dual-clutch automatic gearbox from Getrag. The Focus RS has only ever been available with a manual transmission.
Given the power bump and the possibility of a quick-shifting dual-clutch transmission, expect the RS500 to significantly improve on the standard model’s already-impressive 0-100km/h time of 4.7 seconds.
With the aforementioned upgrades, the powered-up RS500 could well approach the 4.0-second mark, challenging not only the likes of the Audi RS3 and Mercedes-AMG A45 but also exotic supercars with far heftier price tags.
The original Focus RS500 was released in 2010 and featured a 260kW/460Nm 2.5-litre turbocharged five-cylinder engine - a power bump of around 15 per cent over the ‘regular’ Focus RS - sent through the front wheels.
Sprinting from 0-100km/h in a claimed 5.6 seconds on its way to a top speed of 263km/h, the first Focus RS500 was one of the quickest hot-hatches of its time.
Above: The original 2010 Ford Focus RS500
It’s unknown whether this new RS500 will be a limited-edition model like the original, which was kept to just 500 units.
What is also not confirmed is whether the new Focus flagship will be made in both left- and right-hand drive, as the original was only built as a left-hook model, so it never came to Australia.
However, given the current-generation Focus RS’ global sales success - the waiting list already pushes deep into 2017 - it’s possible that Ford could make the second-generation RS500 with right-hand drive as well, to cater for markets like ours.
Stay tuned to CarAdvice for updates on the new Focus RS500 as they come to hand.
Update: The development vehicle believed to be the Focus RS500 was spied again at the Nurburgring, this time sporting a larger rear wing and canard-like extensions to the outer edges of the front spoiler. The driver-side fog light trim was also fitted this time. See the gallery for updated images.