"We are transforming our approach to performance." – Mark Fields
Ford will launch a new high-performance Focus RS around the world, including the United States, company CEO Mark Fields confirmed at a press conference Thursday morning. It is expected to debut in January at the Detroit Auto Show, though launch timing is unclear.
"We are transforming our approach to performance," Fields said.
The RS will serve as a hotter variant of the Focus, which will be redesigned next year as part of Ford's 16 product launches. Our spy photographers have already captured images of a purported RS, which you can see above.
Ford last sold a Focus RS in Europe in 2009, and it continues the long lineage of RS-badged performance cars, which dates to 1968.
"The RS has a significant heritage and pedigree," Ford product chief Raj Nair said.
The Focus RS will slot above the Focus ST, which will continue, a spokesman said. The ST runs a turbocharged, 252-horsepower four-cylinder that's paired with a six-speed manual transmission. It also has chassis and design upgrades to reinforce its athletic dynamics. The most recent intel suggests that the new RS could use Ford's 2.3-liter turbo-four, tuned to anywhere from 325 to 350 hp. All-wheel drive is also rumored to be part of the new RS formula.
Meanwhile, Ford announced it is putting all of its sporty units under the umbrella name of "Ford Performance," which will be led by Mustang chief engineer Dave Pericak. Ford Performance will include Ford Racing, SVT (which is responsible for the Raptor and Shelby GT350) and RS.
"We're changing Ford's performance business," Nair said.
Ford is placing a renewed emphasis on performance, as the customers tend to be younger, wealthier and better educated, Nair said.
In other news, Nair said the company is working on a Raptor version of the new, aluminum-bodied F-150, which launched this year.
"I want to get it out as quickly as we can," he said.