RS is Ford-speak for fast
Ford will take its RS performance brand global for the first time when it launches its new hot Focus model early next year.
The latest Focus RS was unveiled to the press, Ford workers and owners' club enthusiasts in Cologne today ahead of its first public appearance at next month's Geneva show. It will go on sale across the world from early next year.
Until now the RS - or Rallye Sport - brand has been sold mainly in Europe. It dates back to the 1960s and has been the high performance halo nameplate for a number of models down the years including Escorts, Capris, Sierras and, most recently, the Focus. The last RS model was the previous generation Focus launched in 2009.
The brand goes global as part of a performance push by Ford which will see 12 'hot' models launched over the next five years including the already unveiled Mustang, Focus ST and Ford GT. Moray Callum, the company's North American design chief, said he believed the RS would play well there.
"Down the years people have asked us why we have not sold RS models in the US and there is an enthusiastic following. There will certainly be a demand and it really gives us something to compete with the Japanese hot hatchbacks."
The UK has traditionally been the strongest market for RS models. The previous Focus RS sold 4,200 copies there and the one before, launched in 2002, sold 4,500. The latest model goes into production at Saarlouis, Germany, in December.
It has a new 2.3-litre version of Ford's Ecoboost engine "with at least 320hp" according to product development head Raj Nair, along with a newly developed all wheel drive system.