Chances are the RS Focus heading to New Zealand in mid-2016 might not be the quickest of its special kind.
SUPER-hot now, but perhaps a touch more tepid when it lands – that’s a potential surrounding the next-generation of the mighty Ford Focus RS that has already been confirmed for mid-2016 sale here.
Conjecture that the all-wheel-drive flagship product already signed off for New Zealand might be bumped down a peg by another version that has even more kapow is running hot in the United Kingdom.
Media there say Ford has an even more hardcore version of the 257kW/440Nm five-door set to come on sale here around July for $69,880 is under consideration.
The extra-hot hottie – which for convenience sake seems reasonable to call an RS-Plus - has the potential to be the fastest-accelerating hatchback in history, with talk of it clocking 0-100kmh in under four seconds flat, a 0.7s advantage over the car coming here.
What makes it so much faster?
Not just the usual policy of giving the engine extra curry. Apparently the turbocharged 2.3-litre cannot be made much more powerful. However, the car itself can be made significantly lighter, according to reports, and might also replace the standard six-speed manual gearbox with a more exotic, faster-acting direct shift automated manual.
Those extra ingredients might well be appealing to Kiwi fast Ford fans, but talk of the ’Plus’ won’t make Ford NZ happy when they are working so hard to work up a customer base for the existing offer.
The last RS provided a sobering lesson for the distributor. Parallel import editions beat official factory-ordered cars to the showroom and which were snapped up quickly, in part because the previous car was subject to a limited production run. The ‘regular’ RS does not have that status, but the RS-Plus will, according to industry scuttlebutt.
The announced price for the RS places it $17,040 above the current top performance Focus, the ST, which runs a 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder outputting 184kW and 360Nm.
As a sub $70k offer, the RS will be cheaper than the Volkswagen Golf R and more premium offerings such as the Mercedes-AMG A45 and the Audi RS3, all of which also offer in five-door format.
The RS engine is the same unit that sits under the bonnet of the Mustang, albeit creating 233kW/432Nm. The cheapest Mustang with this engine is the $56,990 automatic Coupe.
Ford’s claimed 0-100kmh sprint time for the RS makes it 1.2s faster than the previous RS. It would also be 0.2s quicker than the 221kW/407Nm WRX STI and 0.5s quicker than the manual 206kW/380Nm Golf R, but slightly off the pace of the 270kW/465Nm Audi RS3 (4.3s) and the 265kW/450Nm Mercedes-AMG A45 (4.4s). A cited top speed of 266kmh also makes it slightly slower than the top German fare.
The RS features Ford's all-wheel drive system with launch control, idle-stop, a drive mode system with 'drift' setting and specially tuned RS suspension with adjustable dampers.
Other standard fare includes bi-Xenon HID headlights with LED daytime running lights, keyless entry, an alarm, push-button start, cruise control and speed limiter, SYNC2 with Emergency Assistance, Recaro leather/microfibre seats, high-resolution 8.0-inch touchscreen, Bluetooth, a nine-speaker audio system, sat-nav, reversing camera, voice recognition and dual-zone climate control.
Four exterior colours are available – White and the ‘prestige’ hues of Nitrous, Magnetic and Shadow Black.
An option is the Performance Wheel Pack adding 19-inch forged alloys.