Monday, April 19, 2010
Hot Version of New Ford Focus "A Natural"
A hot Focus is "a natural," Jost Capito, Ford's global head of sports-vehicle operations has confirmed to Motor Trend. The headline version of the car will be a two-door coupe, although other body styles are likely, too. The 2.0-liter EcoBoost engine will develop at least 250 horsepower initially, elbowing it ahead of the VW GTI.
With the recent launch at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit of the sedan and hatchback versions (a wagon is reportedly coming to the Geneva show in March) we know a lot about the new Focus, and the ingredients to make the hot version.
Capito formerly ran Ford's European RS division and was chief engineer for the remarkable Focus RS, a marvelous 305-horsepower, 164-mph five-cylinder crazymobile. His job now is to roll RS and SVT together and make hot versions of Ford's global cars.
Ford hasn't decided on the performance Focus' branding, Capito says. "SVT has a huge following in the States, but we got the RS brand well-established in Europe and it was well aligned with the World Rally Championship program."
With the merging of SVT and RS just underway, we expect the hot 2.0-liter EcoBoost Focus to take more than the usual year after the standard car's early 2011 introduction. What's more, there's no indication the coupe bodystyle will come much earlier.
Ford has said it will build 10 body styles off the new Focus platform. It hasn't officially confirmed the coupe among them, although it has ruled out a European-style two-box, two-door hatchback. In other words, the coupe will be a rakish, fastback-hatch.
Such a coupe will form an ideal basis for the hot version. Add specific front and rear facias, rocker extensions, fat tailpipes, spoilers and big wheels -- and the Ford performance community should be delighted.
Under the hood, the new 2.0-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder is designed from the outset for 250 horsepower, and mates to a six-speed dual-clutch transmission as well as a six-speed manual.
So much for the "basic" hot Focus. Ford's RS division has previously done things more special than that. In Europe, the outgoing Focus had two performance-themed versions: the ST, with 225 horsepower, and the RS, with 305. If the new car gets the 250 horsepower engine, it will represent performance progress over the ST, and indeed from the Golf GTI. But would it be a true inheritor of an RS badge? Probably not.
In Europe, the really hot hot-hatches now need even more power. Recent offerings from Renault, Alfa Romeo and VW with its Golf R variant all surpass the 250-horse threshold. Capito's team has proven it has the engineering talent to play at the highest level and could no doubt build a competitive, high-performance Focus. But details of a true RS successor remain scarce, and getting the budget signed off in present economic circumstances seems unlikely.
Read more: Motortrend
Posted by Pw3680 at 8:45 AM