The exciting rumor about Ford working on a brand-new Focus RS was confirmed in June 2014, when a mule of the hot hatch was spotted testing on the Nurburgring track. A second test mule returned to the "Green Hell" in August with a bunch of updates and a turbocharged four-banger roaring under its hood. As we venture into the 2015 model year, Ford is testing a third Focus RS prototype on German roads before hitting the ’Ring for yet another high-speed session.

Don’t let the "ST" badge fool you, Ford has been using a Focus ST body to develop the RS since the very beginning. The front fascia is what you should pay more attention to, as it carries a number of parts not available on the ST. Modifications are visible around back as well, while a closer look at the sides reveal upgraded braking and suspension gear.

The Focus RS is reportedly slated to arrive for the 2016 model year, which means an official unveiling is planned sometime in 2015. The hot hatch could arrive at the Detroit Auto Show in January, but a New York introduction is possible as well. Meanwhile, have a look past the jump for more photos and details.

Click past the jump to read more about the 2016 Ford Focus RS.

Spy Shots

Spy Shots: 2016 Ford Focus RS Caught Near Nurburgring Exterior Spyshots
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Spy Shots: 2016 Ford Focus RS Caught Near Nurburgring Exterior Spyshots
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Spy Shots: 2016 Ford Focus RS Caught Near Nurburgring Exterior Spyshots
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Very little has changed since the first mule surfaced on the Nurburgring track earlier in 2014, so we are basically looking at the same ST body with a camouflaged front end and upgraded visuals all around. Fortunately enough, the lower front apron has lost some of its swirly wrap, and we can now have a closer look at the aerodynamic enhancements added to the bumper. The front grille also reveals its production shape, with a narrower upper section.

The mule’s rear end remains unchanged since last time we saw it, sporting the same dual exhaust arrangement — the ST is fitted with a center-mounted, twin-pipe setup — and a roof-mounted spoiler. Although the wheels are different this time around, they hide larger brake calipers in the form of four-piston Brembo units. That’s a significant improvement over the ST’s single-piston calipers.

The drivetrain remains a mystery, but most scenarios point towards a Mustang-sourced, 2.3-liter EcoBoost engine connected to the front wheels. The turbo unit is expected to deliver 330 to 350 horsepower.

Why it matters

The fact that Ford is working on a brand-new iteration of the RS is no longer a mystery, but it’s reassuring to see the hot hatch evolve as we near 2015. Hopefully Ford will soon ditch the ST body and showcase the real shell of the RS, so we don’t have to wait for the official reveal to gaze at the new details. One thing’s certain though, the Focus RS will be a blast to drive with more than 300 horsepower under the hood, no matter how Ford reshapes its body.

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