Despite driving only the front wheels, reviewers have heaped praise on the current Ford Focus RS's handling and its ability to put 300 horsepower to the road thanks to some nifty suspension and driveline tricks. However, when the next-generation RS rolls into town (assuming that it becomes a reality) it may well have all-wheel-drive courtesy of an electric motor driving the rear axle.

According to Autocar, the proposed car would use a higher output version of the Blue Oval's 2.0-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder driving the front wheels and an electric motor at the rear. This would allow for both on-demand all-wheel-drive and electric-only drive at low speeds. If this plan proceeds, it would be Ford's first through-the-road hybrid, although French automaker Peugeot has firm plans to introduce at least two vehicles with a similar configuration in 2011.

Other alternatives reportedly being studied by Ford are an even higher output gasoline engine (sans motor assistance), or use of the next-generation power-split hybrid that debuts in 2012. However, both of these options would involve sticking with front-wheel-drive and could be problematic if Ford wants to surpass the output of the current RS.

[Source: AutoCar]