Hybrid system and close to 400 horsepower?

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First introduced in 2002, the Ford Focus RS was produced in very limited quantities during the first- and second-generation models. The third-gen car was launched in 2015 after many years of rumors with a Mustang engine under the hood and an all-wheel-drive system. Discontinued in 2018 just as Ford unveiled the fourth-generation Focus, the RS nameplate is likely to return sooner than before and with even more aggressive performance ratings. Although a production model has yet to be confirmed, Ford was already spotted testing a higher performance variant of the Focus in Europe. Whether it’s the ST or the RS remains unclear for now, but both nameplates are likely to return in dealerships soon.

But the big mystery here is not when the Focus RS will return, but what engine it will use. According to recent rumors, the next-generation Focus RS could become a hybrid. This would be a first for the nameplate and a big blow for the Volkswagen Golf R. There isn’t much info as to what it will have under the hood, but more details should become available as the Focus RS goes out testing. Stay tuned for updates and check out the speculative review below to find out what we already know about the hot hatchback.

Continue reading to learn more about the Ford Focus RS.

2019 Ford Focus RS Exterior

  • Revised front bumper
  • New grille
  • Vented engine hood
  • "RS" badges
  • Big roof spoiler
  • Race-inspired diffuser
  • Hopefully more exterior colors
2019 Ford Focus RS
- image 778411
When those RS features will be added, the Focus will become almost as aggressive as a rally car

The outgoing RS is one badass hatchback styling-wise, but I’m sure Ford will be able to come up with a more aggressive version for the next generation. The brand-new Focus is sportier than ever, and I’ve already spotted a few design cues that will work well with the RS-specific features. The more muscular engine hood, the beefed-up fenders, and the sharper headlamps already make the standard Focus almost as sporty as the ST model. When those RS features are added, the Focus will become almost as aggressive as a rally car.

Speaking of which, although we have yet to see spy shots of the new RS, this rendering from X-Tomi Design shows what kind of updates we should expect on the outside. Much like the previous model, it will get a new bumper with larger vents. The side intakes will have big black bezels, and enlarged cooling ducts, as well as new, rectangular LED daytime running lights. The dull-looking center intake of the standard Focus will be replaced by a larger, trapezoidal opening with horizontal bars. Down below, a bigger splitter should help improve aerodynamics.

2016 Ford Focus RS High Resolution Exterior
- image 620094
The center rear bumper will be carved out to make room for a big diffuser

The grille will retain the shape and size of the standard Focus, but the honeycomb mesh will be ditched for a black panel that will cover more than half of the opening. Finally, the engine hood will gain additional vents for improved cooling.

The profile will remain unchanged for the most part, but the lowered ride height, the sportier side skirts, and the custom wheels wrapped in low-profile tires will make a big difference. The hatchback will also receive black window trim and black mirror caps, the latter possibly made from carbon-fiber. Blue "RS" badges on the wheels and blue brake calipers should complete the look.

The rendering doesn’t include a view of the rear end, but it’s pretty obvious that Ford will alter both the roof spoiler and the bumper for the RS model. The former will grow bigger and will have a more aggressive shape for enhanced downforce. The bumper will probably feature air vents instead of the red lights on the sides, while the center section will be carved out to make room for a big diffuser. Along with the diffuser, Ford will add a pair of big exhaust pipes. As usual, the tailgate will get an "RS" badge.

2019 Ford Focus RS Interior

  • Flat-bottom steering wheel
  • Recaro racing seats
  • Sports pedals
  • Carbon-fiber inlays?
  • "RS" badges
  • Custom dials
  • All the standard convenience features
2016 Ford Focus RS
- image 702635

Note: current Ford Focus RS pictured here.

The "RS" badge will bring a bunch of race-inspired goodies inside the cabin

The "RS" badge will bring a bunch of race-inspired goodies inside the cabin, but the hot-hatch will remain heavily based on the regular model. So look for the same design features, a roomier feel due to the dashboard being positioned farther away from the seats, a wide center stack with less clutter, and a big infotainment system on top.

Custom features unique to this model should include a flat-bottomed steering wheel with revised controls, "RS" badges, and more importantly, Recaro-designed shell seats wrapped in microfiber. The race-spec seats are likely to be optional though, with the standard units being similar to what you can get in the Focus ST.

2016 Ford Focus RS
- image 710674

Note: current Ford Focus RS pictured here.

Although designed for drivers who like a bit of track action now and then, the Focus RS will have all the convenience features

The RS will also come with alloy sports pedals, a new shifter, and maybe an additional instrument cluster for the boost pressure, oil temperature, and oil pressure, just like in the outgoing model. Speaking of displays, the infotainment screen should get a new start-up image, as well as additional apps. The instrument cluster should also get a unique look with red dials, "RS" lettering, additional graphics.

Although designed for drivers who like a bit of track action now and then, the Focus RS will have all the convenience features available with the regular model. SYNC connectivity will standard, as will the audio system, navigation, climate control, and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capability. The SYNC system should also have the "Find a race track" app that gives drivers directions to the closest public circuit. Additionally, it should have a performance app that records lap times and how the car behaves on the race track.

2019 Ford Focus RS Performance

  • Rumored 2.3-liter EcoBoost
  • Around 400 horsepower?
  • 0 to 60 mph in less than 4.5 seconds
  • Top speed in excess of 165 mph
  • All-wheel-drive
  • Might not be that powerful in the end
2016 Ford Focus RS High Resolution Exterior
- image 664720
Unlike its predecessor, the next-generation Focus RS will feature a mild hybrid system

Unlike its predecessor, which uses a gasoline engine only, the next-generation Focus RS will feature a mild hybrid system. The info is not yet official, but it’s no longer a mystery that Ford wants to electrify its performance cars and the rumor mill already includes a range of data that makes sense.

Although there’s no info as to what gas engine will lurk under the hood, the Focus RS will arrive with a "suite of 48V mild-hybrid technologies the company is introducing across its global" cars, according to Autocar. The new technology should improve acceleration times and driving characteristics, but more importantly, it should cut CO2 emissions to levels that will enable the car to meet the new regulations. The outgoing Focus RS emits 175 grams per km, while regulations for 2021 require that automakers have a 95 gram per kg average by 2021.

2019 Ford Focus RS
- image 778410
Output is rumored to sit at 400 horsepower and 425 pound-feet of torque

With this 48V technology being new, there’s no word as to what engine Ford may use it on, but the hatchback could get a revised version of the 2.3-liter EcoBoost. Already rumored to be offered in the upcoming Focus ST, the turbocharged, four-cylinder unit will probably get a range of updates in order to work with the mild hybrid system. Output is rumored to sit at 400 horsepower and 425 pound-feet of torque, a 50-horsepower and 75-pound-foot increase over the outgoing U.S.-spec model. Compared to the European version, it will gain an additional 55 horsepower and 101 pound-feet.

The Focus RS will continue to use an all-wheel-drive system

The Focus RS will continue to use an all-wheel drive system, but the unit will be updated for the car’s new platform. Hopefully, it will still be able to send up to 70 percent of the available torque to the rear axle. The upgraded Rear Drive Unit will most likely consist of twin electronically controlled clutch packs that also act as a limited-slip differential.

Moving over to performance, the 0-to-60 mph sprint should drop significantly with the more powerful engine. With the current model able to hit 60 mph in 4.6 seconds, the next-gen hatchback should be able to get there in 4.3 seconds or even quicker. Top speed could increase slightly from the current 165 mph to around 170 mph or so.

2019 Ford Focus RS Pricing

2019 Ford Focus RS
- image 778409

It’s obviously too early to talk about prices since the new Focus RS won’t be here until 2020, but it will surely cost more than the outgoing model. With the third-gen hatchback priced from $41,120, the upcoming Focus RS could cost almost $45,000 before options.

2019 Ford Focus RS Competition

Volkswagen Golf R

2018 Volkswagen Golf R Exterior Wallpaper quality
- image 744073

Find a proper competitor for the next-generation Focus RS is an impossible job due to the Ford’s estimated output of 400 horsepower. Simply put, there’s no hatchback on the market with that much oomph, and next-generation versions of existing models might not cut the mustard either. Until the Focus RS arrived, the Volkswagen Golf R was the most powerful model in this segment. Facelifted in 2016, the Golf R had its turbocharged, 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine upgrade to 306 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque. While that’s nothing to sneeze at in a performance hatchback, it falls almost 100 horsepower and more than 100 pound-feet short of the upcoming Focus RS. What’s more, the Golf R looks rather dull, missing the aggressive front fascia and the big roof spoiler that makes the Focus RS standard. Hopefully, Volkswagen will create a more aggressive package for the next-generation Golf R, but it’s not very likely for its output to jump from a little more than 300 horsepower to 400. We’ve seen stranger things happen though, so let’s hope for the best. Pricing for the current Golf R starts from $39,785.

Read our full review of the 2018 Volkswagen Golf R.

Honda Civic Type R

2017 - 2020 Honda Civic Type R High Resolution Exterior
- image 719343

Brought to the U.S. for the first time ever, the Civic Type R created quite the commotion upon arrival, with deliveries taking months due to big demand. Unlike the Golf R, the Civic has the right looks. The wide stance, the big fender vents, and the massive wing at the back gives it what it takes to give the Focus RS a run for its money design-wise. Unfortunately, the Type R is also nowhere near as powerful as the Ford. Sporting a turbocharged, 2.0-liter four-cylinder under the hood, the beefed-up Civic comes with 306 horsepower and 295 pound-feet on tap. This makes it as powerful as the Golf R, and that’s not likely to change by the time the new Focus RS reaches showrooms. Although the Type R might get a facelift by 2020, output won’t increase much, so it will still be slower. With a 0-to-60 mph sprint rated at 5.7 seconds, the Type R is a half-second slower than the Golf R, and it will be more than a second slower than the upcoming Focus RS. And unlike the competition, the Civic Type R doesn’t have all-wheel-drive. On the flipside, the Civic Type R is the more affordable choice at $34,100.

Read our full story on the 2017 Honda Civic Type R.

Final Thoughts

2019 Ford Focus RS
- image 777109

Let’s be honest here. This hatchback is about two years away, and we don’t know much about it. Sure, the rumor about the hybrid drivetrain is very plausible, and the exterior design isn’t much of a mystery now that we’ve seen the standard model, but it’s too early to draw a conclusion. The rumored specs sound fantastic and suggest that the Focus RS will obliterate everything in its path, but will Ford actually develop such a powerful hatchback? It would be really cool, but let’s see if it happens. Stay tuned for more details as we will update this review as soon as we get them.

  • Leave it
    • Likely expensive too
    • Drivetrain not yet confirmed


2019 Ford Focus Interior Exterior
- image 776870

Read our full review on the 2019 Ford Focus.

2016 Ford Focus RS High Resolution Exterior Wallpaper quality
- image 615056

Read our full review on the 2017 Ford Focus RS.

- image 744958
Top Selling Model: Ford F-Series Trucks

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Ciprian Florea
Ciprian Florea
Senior Editor and Supercar Expert - ciprian@topspeed.com
Ciprian's passion for everything with four wheels (and more) started back when he was just a little boy, and the Lamborghini Countach was still the coolest car poster you could hang on your wall. Ciprian's career as a journalist began long before earning a Bachelor's degree, but it was only after graduating that his love for cars became a profession.  Read full bio
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