The horsepower race in the hot hatch segment is heating up, with some models even surpassing the 300HP mark.
Transmitting all that power through the front wheels, though, which also have to do the steering, is a bit too much. That’s why the likes of Audi’s S3, VW’s Golf R and Mercedes-Benz with the A45 AMG have adopted all-wheel drive; even the BMW M135i, which is rear-wheel drive, is offered with AWD as an option.
According to a CAR magazine report, however, Ford will stick with the tried and tested front-wheel drive recipe for the new Focus RS, just as it has with the two previous generations. Not only that but it will also shun the current trend of ultra-fast dual-clutch transmissions and fit its fastest Focus with a manual gearbox, despite having the Powershift semi-auto already in its arsenal.
That’s because the people at Team RS, who are developing the new car that is due in 2014, believe that keen drivers want their hot hatches to be playful and involving. Besides, they have already proven that a cleverly tuned limited-slip differential and, in the second-gen RS, a special front suspension (named RevoKnuckle) can keep understeer at bay.
Like the much tamer ST, the RS will switch from the second-gen’s five-cylinder to the new four-cylinder EcoBoost, albeit with a larger displacement of 2.3 liters, a unit that Car says "will be shared with the new Mustang". The Blue Obal won’t go into specifics about output, but the last RS had 301PS (299HP), which rose to 350 (345HP) for the RS 500 limited edition.
We venture a guess that the MkIII RS will be very close to that last figure – not only to match the current leader, the 350HP A 45 AMG, but also because CAR’s Ford sources “didn’t bat an eyelid” at that suggestion…
By Andrew Tsaousis