By on April 17, 2020

While Ford long ago put the kibosh on the Focus RS for this market, Europe planned on eventually bringing the blisteringly hot hatchback back from the grave. Unlike the United States, where the entire Focus line has been discontinued, European and Asian markets press onward with the car’s fourth generation. That model was originally presumed to include the performance-fixated RS variant; however, EU regulations have reportedly made that impossible.

The continent’s new CO2 emission mandates now require automakers to either meet a fleet-wide average of 95 grams of carbon dioxide per kilometre in 2021 or ready their accounts for sizable fines. With everything going on, Ford decided it wasn’t worth the trouble to try and make the model complaint. And yet the Focus RS isn’t some V8-powered monstrosity that’s single-handedly upping fuel prices. It uses the same, modestly sized 2.3-liter turbo found in many Ford products — just tuned for maximum output. 

All evidence supported Ford keeping that unit for subsequent RS models. The manufacturer already had it in its roster, and (minus a few head gasket issues) it performed rather well in the rally-bred hatchback — delivering 350 horsepower and 350 foot-pounds of torque in an AWD car weighing under 3,500 lbs.

It was later learned that its presumed successor was testing a hybrid powertrain (where the 2.3-liter turbo would spin the back wheels while a GKN-sourced electric motor would drive the front). With Ford understandably worried about emission quotas in the EU, it was expected that this would foreshadow the production version. Combined output was estimated to be somewhere around 400 hp, with emissions being no worse than RS models sold in 2018. Ford confirmed nothing; the automaker was rumored to have at least one other setup under consideration that flipped which axles were influenced by electricity/gasoline.

While we don’t know everything that setup entailed, we do know neither will reach fruition. According to French outlet Caradisiacthere will be no Focus RS at all. The outlet said Ford confirmed the program has been abandoned due to the region’s stringent emissions regulations. And that’s probably not the only factor.

Ford undertook major restructuring efforts across Europe after profitability took a hit. Despite having a rather strong sales history in the EU, the continent hasn’t been nearly as good to the brand in recent years. Ford likely realized that adding a bunch of electronic components and secondary motor to the RS would increase its entry price to a point that would be unsustainable on a niche performance product. Meanwhile, the coronavirus hasn’t helped any automaker’s bottom line. It may have been the final nail in the car’s coffin.

[Image: Ford Motor Co.]

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38 Comments on “European Emission Regulations Killed the Ford Focus RS...”


  • avatar
    dal20402

    For those whose brains are calibrated in cubits and forinths, 95 g/km of CO2 emissions corresponds with roughly 57.3 US mpg of fuel consumption. Translate the optimistic European fuel economy cycle to US EPA and this is effectively a requirement for a fleetwide average of somewhere between 40 and 45 mpg. Expect a lot more electrification in European cars in the near future.

    • 0 avatar
      thornmark

      because they did such a great job forcing everyone into diesels and then forcing everyone out of diesels

      now they’re forcing electrification, what could go wrong?

      • 0 avatar
        Lorenzo

        Where will they get the electricity?Germany shut down its nuclear plants and is burning brown coal, the only deposits they have left, and even importing wood pellets from the US. Most of Europe has little natural gas or oil, most of it from Norway’s North Sea fields, and Germany’s Angela Merkel, raised in East Germany, wants to become dependent on Russian natural gas, even after watching Russia turn the screws on the Ukraine over natural gas deliveries. You can take the girl out of East Germany, but you can’t take East Germany out of the girl.

        • 0 avatar
          ajla

          “Where will they get the electricity?”

          In the short to medium term they’ll probably beat the standard by offering a bunch of low-range PHEVs that people just never plug in.
          So no harm to the grid there.

          uk.motor1.com/news/276595/uk-hybrids-never-plugged-in/

          FWIW, I’m actually a fan of PHEVs but I think vehicle CO2 rules do need to take market desires, *infrastructure*, cost, and overall feasibility into account more than they have been.

        • 0 avatar
          golden2husky

          Germany is quite disingenuous regarding their improvements in reducing carbon emissions. The sold a massive smelter to China instead of destroying it. Since they said their goal was to reduce global carbon emission, taking the source from one continent and moving it to another has zero real value.

        • 0 avatar
          gtem

          ” after watching Russia turn the screws on the Ukraine over natural gas deliveries”

          I believe that’s what happens when you a) don’t pay for gas and/or b) siphon off gas in transit to Europe

          • 0 avatar
            Art Vandelay

            Did Russia pay for the new containment structure at Chernobyl? Either way, pretty sure the Ukranians are on the short end of that relationship.

    • 0 avatar
      phreshone

      More coal powered cars….

      But of course in the EU’s eyes, serfs don’t need to drive

      • 0 avatar

        They can take trains and buses, it is that simple. They also have a free healthcare and fee college. well, and free porn.

        • 0 avatar
          Sobro

          And their chocolate ration has been increased from 10 grams/month to 7 grams/month.

          • 0 avatar
            Tele Vision

            @Sobro

            All Hail BB!

          • 0 avatar
            Maymar

            zerofoo, if you look at typical life expectancy (both globally and within the US) and not a once in a century pandemic, denser places tend to live longer. Between more prosperity, better access to health care, and infrastructure that doesn’t so heavily promote a sedentary lifestyle, big cities aren’t inherently unhealthy.

            Now, if corporate America comes out of this realizing that so many jobs can be effectively done remotely, and if a huge push on telecommuting means that suburbanized areas can become a little more walkable because we don’t have to prioritize traffic efficiency so heavily, then you might have a point, but right now you’re just grinding an axe.

          • 0 avatar
            zerofoo

            @Maymar

            Wealthier people tend to live in cities. Wealthier people also tend to have better health outcomes. Wealth skews health statistics in cities.

            https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2019/06/28/736938334/the-gap-between-rich-and-poor-americans-health-is-widening

            You are conflating statistics. There is nothing inherently healthy about living in a city. Frankly healthy food is difficult to get in many cities:

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Supermarket_shortage

        • 0 avatar
          thornmark

          >>They can take trains and buses, it is that simple. They also have a free healthcare and fee college. well, and free porn.<<

          well, they're gonna need their "free" healthcare:
          from MIT a few days ago:
          The Subways Seeded the Massive Coronavirus Epidemic in New York City Jeffrey E. Harris
          NBER Working Paper No. 27021
          April 2020
          JEL No. I1,I12,I14,I18,I28
          ABSTRACT
          New York City’s multitentacled subway system was a major disseminator – if not the principal transmission vehicle – of coronavirus infection during the initial takeoff of the massive epidemic that became evident throughout the city during March 2020. The near shutoff of subway ridership in Manhattan – down by over 90 percent at the end of March – correlates strongly with the substantial increase in the doubling time of new cases in this borough. Maps of subway station turnstile entries, superimposed upon zip code-level maps of reported coronavirus incidence, are strongly consistent with subway-facilitated disease propagation. Local train lines appear to have a higher propensity to transmit infection than express lines. Reciprocal seeding of infection appears to be the best explanation for the emergence of a single hotspot in Midtown West in Manhattan. Bus hubs may have served as secondary transmission routes out to the periphery of the city….
          http://web.mit.edu/jeffrey/harris/HarrisJE_WP2_COVID19_NYC_13-Apr-2020.pdf

          No wonder NY has half the US casualties – their leaders said their subways were safe

          • 0 avatar
            golden2husky

            Yep. Just like the Bush administration said the air around Ground Zero was safe – Stock market>humans health. And elected officials wonder why the general population is so highly distrustful of government telling the truth. When it comes to $$$, politicians, regardless of their political stripe, always err on the side of the dollar.

          • 0 avatar
            zerofoo

            That can’t be. I was always told by my betters that my suburban/rural lifestyle is unsustainable, inefficient, and unhealthy.

            Where I live we’ve had about 1,200 cases of Coronavirus and 25 deaths – in a county of about 500,000 people. Our average flu season is typically worse than this.

            Cities are expensive cesspools of noise, disease and filth.

            Humans are not built to be racked and stacked like an Amazon warehouse.

          • 0 avatar
            Maymar

            @zerofoo,

            I acknowledge it’s correlation rather than causation (and noted the wealth factor). I could find one study that suggested that even if only look at lower income citizens, New York still did exceptionally well for longevity (you can read into it further to decide how much you trust the methodology). Again, it’s not healthy to drive everywhere – have you ever used any sort of step counter or activity tracker? I have, and I know how bad it gets if you don’t make an active effort, or live somewhere where activity just happens. Humans weren’t made to walk just five minutes per day either). At a minimum, you can’t just decree cities are unhealthy because it doesn’t fit your worldview.

            https://www.businessinsider.com/us-cities-where-people-live-the-longest-2018-1

  • avatar

    I was lucky enough to experience the RS for two days. It totally made sense as the halo car if I grew up in Europe, and Rally was my motorsport religion. Probably one of the most fun cars I’d ever driven on my reference back roads and wooded parks., but not very much fun on wide open highways. Not surprisingly, the opposite of a Mustang.

  • avatar
    Master Baiter

    Yeah, we can’t allow the serfs to enjoy themselves, say the diplomats in Brussels who are chaffered around the EU in black SUVs at taxpayer expense. Must…regulate….CO2. Meanwhile, China has 121 gigawatts of coal-fired power under construction.

    • 0 avatar
      Lorenzo

      How else are they going to light the empty cities they built? They have an abundance of smoky brown coal to burn, but are about a half-century behind in smokestack scrubbing technology. It’s only now becoming a priority, because the party leaders in Beijing can’t breathe.

      Meanwhile, they have the latest stolen military technology, the best imported industrial and chemical technology, stone age farming methods, and medieval-level public sanitation practices, all blended together forcibly by an authoritarian regime that probably doesn’t know how to manage it all.

      • 0 avatar
        zerofoo

        Food safety regulations are a hallmark of a properly developed society.

        Take a look at “Chinese gutter oil”:

        https://youtu.be/zrv78nG9R04

        Warning – don’t watch this while eating.

  • avatar
    DownUnder2014

    It is not unexpected but quite sad. RSs were nice on twisties, which was basically the goal for these anyway.

    Oh well, it is what it is…

    • 0 avatar
      Lorenzo

      As speedlaw pointed out, it was not as much fun on wide open highways. There’s not much of that in Europe except the autobahn, but there’s a lot of that in the US, and the longest, straightest road is in Australia. I assume speedlaw means the RS can do both, but in the American west, a 600 mile (965.5603km) day trip might be best done in a bigger, more comfortable vehicle.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    You brought up a valid point in that the US does have more open highways especially in the West. Nothing wrong with smaller more efficient cars for short trips but on the wide open highway most small cars are penalty boxes for drivers and passengers. The distances and infrastructure in the US make it more difficult to have EV vehicles and these things will have to change to make EVs viable for most drivers. I believe over time that EVs will become more affordable with lighter and longer range batteries and more charging infrastructure but we are still many years away from that. What works for Europe is not the same as what works for the US or even Australia.

    • 0 avatar

      This comment reminds me of something I read about the OG Mini Cooper. They were surprised how often Americans were blowing them up, but then never realized that you get on the highway, turn it up to full speed, and leave it there for hours….which wasn’t something that happened in England, or even on the Autobahn for the same lengths of time.

      Our classic barges, which are huge overall, can’t turn, and had a big engine turning over slowly, are exactly what our system dictates. We have big roads-drive in Scotland and the lanes are very narrow, even with 18 wheelers coming at you-and outside the coasts few corners….in most of the nation, you drive in a straight line, stop, and make a 90 degree turn. This dictates a living room on wheels, which is what the classic American car is…. We drive fast, but across Montana-straight line, and in cities, we roll very slowly, since our mass transit options are few.

      Europe has tiny streets and cities built for horses. I recall going to Spain, and there is no way my barge of a CTS could have survived there…too big, turning radius is wrong, driveway angles would be fatal…never mind fuel costs.

      We also get the sporty or luxury euro cars so our view of what is a euro car is very skewed. The typical car is small, has a tiny engine (we always get the big four cylinder here, they don’t even try to sell the smaller ones) and isn’t lux. You’d want to put pins in your eyes if you had to drive a 1.2 liter Polo from NY to LA-but a Chevy Nova with a slowly turning six wouldn’t be bad.

      The RS is the ultimate car for Europe-and fun here, a bit of an oddity.

  • avatar
    rpn453

    Hard to imagine that the few of these they sell would have a big impact on the average, or that they could consume that much more fuel than CUVs. The fuel economy of the RS is within 5% of a 2.0L AWD Tiguan. The Tiguan is the fourth best selling vehicle in Europe.

    Couldn’t they just jack it up a couple inches on an adjustable suspension and put some removable body cladding on it? Maybe some removable ballast if the standards are based on weight?

    Enthusiasts would probably get a kick out of a manufacturer mocking standards that give preferential treatment to less efficient vehicles.

    • 0 avatar
      Lie2me

      “Couldn’t they just jack it up a couple inches on an adjustable suspension and put some removable body cladding on it? Maybe some removable ballast if the standards are based on weight?”

      I think you’re describing an Escape/Kuga a very big seller in Europe

    • 0 avatar
      HotPotato

      You may be old enough to remember Dodge’s Little Red Truck of the Malaise era. When tightening standards made hot engines in passenger cars a no-go, they put a hot-rodded 440 V8 in a lowered short-bed pickup, which was acceptable because it was a “truck” — and to turn the mockery up to 10, put Kenworth-style smokestacks on it.

      I don’t know if it lasted more than one model year, or even made it from car show to production to be honest, but it was pretty amusing.

  • avatar
    ThomasSchiffer

    The sooner the EU and Merkel go away, the better. I don’t want socialism and eco-terrorism telling me how to live my life and what I should drive. It is pathetic how the EU Green Deal was literally developed and partially implemented after a visit from the holy Greta Thunberg in Brussels.

    The EU is destroying my financial future because of the hysteria from a deranged 16-year-old child who claims to see the CO2 which comes out of emissions pipes…

  • avatar
    ThomasSchiffer

    Here is a good interview with a realist (in German). His words: the internal combustion engine is far from dead and is cleaner than ever. Carbon-free synthetic fuels can be used in them and are a renewable resource. Germany has the cleanest coal power plants in the world courtesy of various filtration systems. They do emit CO2, but that CO2 could be used to produce synthetic gasoline and diesel. A company in Austria (the name eludes me) has proven that this can work.

    But the disastrous European Union is run by ideologically brainwashed leftists and borderline communists whose true motives are as follows: the eradication of individual mobility, hence their push for electric cars.

    https://www.focus.de/auto/news/verbrennungsmotor-oder-elektro-wer-macht-das-rennen-motoren-papst-im-interview-autogegner-tun-so-als-wurde-das-suv-in-boeser-absicht-erfunden_id_11896056.html

    • 0 avatar
      Hummer

      “ Germany has the cleanest coal power plants in the world courtesy of various filtration systems.”

      Be careful there, I’ve been inside scrubber plants in American coal plants, Billion dollar stacks filled with technology to keep every .00001 micron of pollutant out of the air. Extremely expensive to run, but are still cleaner and cheaper than just about any alternative.

      • 0 avatar
        ThomasSchiffer

        Expensive yes, but in my country they apparently work if we’re to believe the government. Which, when I think about it, might be a bad idea…

        • 0 avatar
          Hummer

          My only point was that American coal plants are extremely clean, frankly I have no doubt that German coal plants are plenty clean. Of course facts won’t stop environmental extremists from crying bloody murder at the thought that coal is being burned.

          Such an important resource that has been wrongly labeled as “bad”.

    • 0 avatar
      HotPotato

      What you are describing would take massive government subsidies for experimental technology that may or may not work, cannot currently compete in the market, and is frankly not necessary. Everything you hate about “socialism.”

      Fossil fuel is literally a dead end. We must do better.

  • avatar
    cprescott

    Cue the arrogant Tesla fanbois who ignore how much CO2 is produced to mine the rare earth metals that made their luxury golf carts so wonderful.

  • avatar
    cognoscenti

    I went to high school when 70’s American musclecars were just becoming desirable again. This meant that no one really had a jalopy musclecar – but a few kids had something they tried to keep clean. Biggest collectible (today) from then? Probably the 1971 Mach 1 Mustang that one guy owned. Another friend had a ’77 Dodge Charger with the 360 V8. It wasn’t the “rich Corinthian leather” that Ricardo Montalbán offered up for the sister Coronado, but instead a wonderful two-tone black & gray houndstooth cloth. Unfortunately, the 727 Torqueflite and 360 made for a thirsty but not terribly fast combo.

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