Here's what killed it.
Just last week, reports indicated that Ford was stopping the development of the next-generation Focus RS. While there is already a Ford Focus ST in Europe, the reports claimed that the Ford Focus RS would not meet the continent's new, stricter CO2 emissions laws. A representative from Ford of Australia gave some hope that the Focus RS could still be saved but in a statement to Top Gear, Ford has officially confirmed that it will not build the next-generation hot hatch. The reason is as we suspected.
"As a result of pan-European emissions standards, increased CO2 taxation and the high cost of developing an RS with some form of electrification for a relatively low volume of vehicles, we are not planning another RS version of the Focus," the company said in a statement.
In other words, blame the EU regulators.
The last-generation Focus RS produced 345 horsepower from a 2.3-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine, sending power to all-wheel-drive through a six-speed manual transmission. While we were not expecting it to arrive in the United States, the next-generation model was expected to adopt a hybrid drivetrain producing around 400 hp. This would have made it highly competitive with the next-generation Volkswagen Golf R and the Mercedes-AMG A45.
"We remain committed to Ford Performance vehicles in Europe as part of our DNA," Ford added. "With cars like the Focus and Fiesta ST as well as our Mustang and Ranger Raptor models."
This new is less crushing for US enthusiasts, who were only able to enjoy the Focus RS for a single generation. European enthusiasts, who have been getting Ford's premier hot hatchback since 2002, will likely be more disappointed to hear that the company is backing out of this segment. At least Europeans can still enjoy the Fiesta ST and Focus ST because both are no longer offered in the US market.
It should be worth noting that we now have two conflicting reports from Ford officials on other sides of the world. As a Ford Australia spokesperson says, Ford has everything in place to make a new Focus RS so we aren't ready to close the book on the hot hatch just yet. Give it another few months and Ford may decide to go ahead with it after all.