Super hot hatch isn’t a slam dunk to be built anymore

The dreaded “business case.” A lot of cars, some of which we were excited to see, have fallen by the wayside because automakers couldn’t find a good “business case” for them. The Infiniti Q50 Eau Rouge comes to mind as one of the more recent examples. Now it’s looking like the Ford Focus RS500 is going to give it some company, Ford’s souped-up version of the Focus RS that got everybody excited for a second.

Turns out, the project is on the verge of being called off as sources have told Autocar that there’s only a 30 percent chance of the car making production. The reason? Ford can’t find a good business case for it.

The sound of those gasps and groans are all the people who are undoubtedly disappointed by this turn of events. As recently as May 2016, the Focus RS500 seemed to a good bet to hit production. There were even multiple sightings of a test car in public. At the very least, it was an indication that the automaker had already hit the ground running on the super hot hatch’s development. But the tide has reportedly turned within Ford as the company has become increasingly wary of how the RS500 would fit into the company’s other performance models, most specifically the Mustang GT and the Mustang Shelby GT350.

While the comparisons between the Focus and the Mustang seem disjointed on the surface, the market for both models could overlap since the Focus RS500 would approach the power and performance capabilities of the Mustang GT and Shelby GT350. Ford isn’t too keen on taking that leap, especially if the Focus RS500 doesn’t do as well as it hopes in the U.S. market for that specific reason.

Another issue is scheduling, which is becoming more of an issue for Ford as the days wind down to the eventual replacement of the current Focus in late 2017. Launching a Focus RS500 so close to the end of the current model’s life cycle comes with its own set of pitfalls and Ford appears to be recognizing that now. It’s a tricky situation and to be fair, Ford has yet to make a final decision on whether to continue with the Focus RS500’s development or to pack it up and save it for another day. Hopefully, some clarity comes to light soon so nobody will be expecting something that isn’t arriving anymore.

Continue after the jump to read the full story.

Disappointing but not Surprising

I was one of those people who got excited about the Ford Focus RS500. I’ve been very vocal about my love for the Focus RS and to hear Ford say that a more hardcore version was in the works got me all juiced up. But I also didn’t get my hopes up because I thought that there would be potential problems that would surface along the way. To be fair, I didn’t pick up on the overlap at all, even though in hindsight, it makes a lot of sense. Ford only has a specific number of performance models in its lineup and it’s not in the company’s best interest to put two of them so close together, especially if they’re two separate models, which the Focus and Mustang are. That could lead to buyer confusion on which model they’d like instead of creating a clear demarcation between the two performance cars.

On the other hand, the scheduling of the Focus RS500 was off from the very beginning. Everybody knows that the current iteration of the Focus and all of its derivatives are on its last legs. The next-generation model is coming and while the arrival of the Focus RS500 would create instant buzz surrounding the model, Ford would’ve been in a better position to maximize the RS500’s potential if it arrived earlier in the model’s life cycle.

I’m sure the automaker has other reasons why it’s reportedly gotten cold feet over the RS500 and those reasons, whether we like them or not, will ultimately decide if the super hot hatch gets green-lit for production. I wouldn’t put my hopes up though because the signs seem to point to the company packing the development of the RS500 and waiting for a better time to roll it back out again. Hopefully, that time happens when the next-gen model arrives.

Read our full preview on the upcoming Ford Focus RS500 here.

Source: AutoCar

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