And we have only the American market to blame.
The dream of a hotter version of the Ford Focus RS, tentatively titled the RS500, appears to be on life support. Autocar’s sources say the project has a 30% chance of making production, with the main issue being the fact that a beefed-up RS could be too close (in power) to the automaker’s other offerings. “It could be treading on other cars’ toes,” a source told Autocar. Those “other cars” would be the Mustang GT and Mustang Shelby GT350, which make 435 horsepower and 526 horsepower respectively; the RS500 had a rumored power output of 400 horses.
Autocar noted that the problem was unique to the American market where the two Mustangs do many more sales. Although Europe would likely welcome the RS500 with open arms, the project is falling short of projections due to fears that dealerships in America won’t be so keen on it. The good news, if you’re someone who has a glass-half-full view, is that a Europe-only version is being considered. Said car would be created with a smaller budget and would likely not be as powerful as current projections estimate. But at least it would still exist. The bad news is that even the toned-down model may not come to life, with one source telling Autocar that there are fears “it might dilute the RS brand.”
We get Ford’s fears and understand why the automaker is hesitant to build the RS500. Not many automakers build special editions of special editions. Also, three hot hatches in one model lineup (Focus ST, RS and RS500) sounds a bit too ambitious for America, at least right now. Still, we’d love to see the RS offered in “lite” guise, perhaps as a track-focused monster. We originally said Ford should cut weight instead of adding power. An ultra-limited track edition, something along the lines of the Volkswagen Golf GTI Clubsport S, would let Ford flex its muscles in an atypical way, with power taking a backseat to on-track performance and precision. That being said, 30% is still almost a 1/3 shot, so let’s not write off the Focus RS500 as we know it just yet.