Will an RS badge on a Ford soon become what AMG is to Mercedes?
The launch of the Ford Focus RS last summer has been a surprising success in America. With the popularity of SUVs and crossovers showing no signs of slowing down, it's perhaps surprising that the Blue Oval hasn't offered any performance-variants of its family of SUVs like some of its competitors. That could soon change, however. In an interview with Car Dealer Magazine Ford Performance chief Dave Pericak revealed that an RS-badged SUV is a possibility in the future.
"If you did what you needed to do to make it perform the way that an RS should, the answer would be sure," he said. "I think customers love performance. I think the definition of what that means for an SUV might be different than what it means for a Focus or for a Fiesta. But I think that we've seen, even in the US and globally, that people like aggressive-looking cars, they like sporty, they want the power and pick-up and engine improvement, so I think the answer is yes. SUV customers would appreciate performance, for sure." Should Ford venture into the performance SUV market, it will certainly have a lot of catching up to do.
Current competitors include the likes of the Audi SQ5 and SQ7, as well as the Porsche Cayenne and Macan Turbo, to name a few. Pericak hasn't been impressed with recent performance SUVs from competitors, however, expressing a desire to create a "credible" performance SUV with no compromises. "If you look at the SUV market right now, there aren't too many credible performance SUVs out there," he said. "There are people who have made partial attempts at it and there are different things that have happened, but there are no real credible ones. So, I think that's an area of some opportunity, for sure." Pericak revealed that the Ford Escape is the first SUV likely to get the RS treatment.
The Escape's underpinnings are capable of a performance upgrade, while Ford Edge and EcoSport RS models could also follow. There were also talks of a future Ford Fiesta RS, as the RS brand could be extended across the Ford range beyond the Focus. "What RS stands for could be applied to other products, for sure," he said. "I think that RS can be applied to many different products, it just has to meet certain criteria." When asked if the ST had reached the Fiesta's limit, Pericak replied that it's "as hot as it gets to date," suggesting it could get an all-wheel-drive RS sibling later down the line.