Ford of Europe has confirmed it will launch a top sporting RS model of the European Focus for launch in 2009.

The new RS (for Rally Sport, a brand used on top sports European Ford models since the 1960s Escort) will be based on the current five-cylinder ST model and will be developed by Ford Team RS, a specialist team led by Jost Capito who becomes vehicle line director for Ford of Europe Performance Vehicles from 1 January.

"With two consecutive manufacturers' world rally championship titles under our belt, the time is right to create a new Focus RS," said Ford Europe president and CEO John Fleming.

A company statement was long on hype and short on details of the new model. It said, however, it would show a concept version in mid-2008.