European Emission Regulations Killed the Ford Focus RS

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky
european emission regulations killed the ford focus rs

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 Caradisiac, there 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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  • Cprescott Cprescott on Apr 20, 2020

    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.

    • Mcs Mcs on Apr 20, 2020

      Awww, did someone in a Tesla stiff you on a tip last time you worked the drive-thru?

  • Cognoscenti Cognoscenti on Apr 21, 2020

    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.

  • Tassos While Acura was the first Japanese attempt to sell 'luxury' (or "premium") vehicles in the US market, and despite its original good success in the near-luxury segment with the Legend and the far smaller and less expensive Itegra (a glorified Civic), it later lost its momentum and offered a series of underwhelming vehicles. It sure is not a LUXURY maker, and as long as it offers FWD or AWD and NOT RWD vehicles, it will never be taken seriously as a serious sports cars maker. Infiniti is much worse, and if both of them go under, few will notice. Lexus was more successful, offering pimped up TOyotas for 10,000s more, but there is NO vehicle in their lineup, esp now that they scewed up the only serious entry (the LS), that I would care to consider. AND I say all this as a very satisfied owner of 5-speed Honda coupes and hatchbacks (a 1991 Civic hatch and a 1990 Accord Coupe).
  • Mike Beranek Yet another reason to accelerate the transition to electric vehicles charged with energy from wind & solar with modern, non-Monty Burns nuclear as a backup.
  • Tassos The cap the timid Western Europeans agreed to, a HIGH $60, which still lets Putin make a TON of billions of $, was way too HIGH. Ukraine correctly complained about this, it had asked for a $20 cap, I believe.
  • FreedMike "...I wouldn’t recommend holding your breath until fuel prices drop."Regular is $2.87 at my local gas station today. Considering that it was over four bucks this summer, I'd call that a drop. And it happened with the war still going on, the GOP not taking over Congress, Dark Brandon in the White House, and the Theoretical Keystone Pipeline still being canned. Imagine that. And I wonder if poor Slavuta has broken out the "will rap for food" sign yet.
  • THX1136 I would imagine the caps will have minimal impact. Putin is going to do what he wants to do regardless of how the citizens of his country fare.