So far, Ford has had a very busy year. Eager to showcase their Ford Performance lineup, The brand has unveiled the 2016 Ford GT, 2017 Raptor, and the 2016 Focus RS within the span of one show. And with Ford’s announcing that 12 new models will be introduced into the Ford Performance lineup by 2020, speculation has turned to which car will receive a big performance upgrade next. After this week’s introduction of the Focus RS, the smaller but similar Ford Fiesta has emerged as the next likeliest candidate.
Last week, British magazine Auto Express reported that a Fiesta RS could be ready by 2017 for the 2018 model year. Senior Vehicle Engineer at Ford Performance Tyrone Johnson told the magazine, “The current Fiesta has another two-and-a-half years before it’s replaced. We’ll update the ST within that period, and after that there could be something else.” As the new Focus RS was just introduced (with a release date to be announced later this year) a few months after the freshly facelifted 2015 Focus hit showrooms, Ford could follow a similar timeline for the introduction of a Fiesta RS.
Still, there is some doubt as to whether or not Ford should give the Fiesta the RS treatment for fear that its only direct competition would be the Focus RS. Besides, the Fiesta ST is already one of the best hot hatches in the world. Developed in Europe, the Fiesta ST is a quick corner carver with some of the best handling characteristics of any car on the road. But Ford has been able to successfully differentiate the Focus RS from the ST in Europe for years, and there’s no reason they can’t make the already great Fiesta even better.
The Focus ST is a very good car, but the RS is a real contender for the best hot hatch, giving the Subaru WRX STI, Volkswagen Golf R, and upcoming Honda Civic Type-R a serious run for their money. The RS has a unique front fascia, massive rear wing, upgraded suspension, and a 2.3 liter inline-four from the Mustang EcoBoost. The RS’ trump card is Ford’s all-new torque-vectoring all-wheel drive system. The system uses a dual-clutch setup to supply power as needed to any of the car’s four wheels – an advanced setup that’s very similar to a rally car…
And the Fiesta already has an impressive reputation as a rally car. Modified all-wheel drive Fiestas dominated the 2011 World Rally Championship season. After Ford officially pulled out of rallying in 2012, tuning company M-Sport has continued to compete with Fiestas independently in the WRC. A production all-wheel drive Fiesta with the Focus RS’ advanced all-wheel drive system could signal the return of a factory-backed rally campaign for Ford.
A wider track, bigger engine, revised suspension, and the RS’ all-wheel drive system would make the Fiesta RS an incredible car. The Fiesta ST is the hottest subcompact on the U.S. Market by a long shot, but Ford faces strong competition in Europe from the likes of the Audi S1 and Volkswagen Polo GTI. A competitive Fiesta RS model makes a lot of sense in Europe, and a U.S.-spec version would introduce Americans to a new kind of performance car. Like the Focus-Fiesta ST models, many of the go-fast parts from the Focus RS could be easily carried over for the Fiesta, cutting development costs significantly.
From here, it’s too early to tell which Ford is next to receive the RS treatment. Still, it seems more likely that the Fiesta will receive the RS treatment before a Fusion or C-Max will. Ford has a gem in the Fiesta ST, but RS would find a willing audience in people who love the ST’s handling, but wished it had more power. Priced below the Focus RS, it would be a true performance car bargain, and it would show that Ford is looking to dominate the performance car market at all levels. A Fiesta ST makes sense for Ford, let’s hope they build it.
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