Ford plans hottest hatch of all
Ford is rumoured to be considering a 350bhp, four-wheel-drive, six-cylinder turbocharged proposal for the next-generation Focus RS. Right now the Blue Oval’s executives at the company’s headquarters in Cologne, Germany are considering a plan to fit Ford’s new flagship hot hatch, due out in 2007, with a new turbocharged in-line six-cylinder engine.
The advanced powerplant (right) has been developed by Volvo as a replacement for the Swedish car maker’s current six-cylinder engine, and is planned to make its debut in the new S80 due out next June.
Conceived for both transverse and longitudinal applications, the four-valve-per-cylinder unit is based around a die-cast aluminium cylinder block for an all-up weight of 180kg. It is also claimed to be 1mm shorter than Volvo’s five-cylinder engine – a feature that makes it suitable for a whole range of different models, including the new Focus RS.
Three different versions of the engine are planned: a base naturally aspirated 3.2-litre and a pair of performance-oriented turbocharged 3.0-litre units. The former receives variable cam timing (VCT) on the inlet valves, with the latter two adopting a system operating both the inlet and exhaust valves as well as a variable-vane Garrett turbocharger.
In 3.2-litre guise, the new six-cylinder produces 235bhp at 6000rpm along with 236lb ft of torque at 3500rpm – an increase of 38bhp and 26lb ft over Volvo’s current 2.9-litre engine. The turbocharged units deliver 285bhp and 295lb ft in light-pressure guise, with the high-pressure unit pumping out a BMW M3-beating 350bhp and 332lb ft.
It’s this latter specification that Ford’s Motorsport boss, Jost Capito, may use to thrust the Blue Oval back to the very top of the European hot-hatch ranks. If Ford’s plans come to fruition, the new RS will boast a whopping 133bhp and 96lb ft more than the upcoming Focus ST, whose turbocharged 2.5-litre five-cylinder engine generates 217bhp along with 236lb ft of torque.
Unlike the front-wheel-drive ST, the new RS is being developed around new four-wheel-drive underpinnings. This promises to endow it with spectacular levels of grip and traction. One problem, however, is the lack of a suitable six-speed manual transmission for the new car. The gearbox in the Mondeo ST TDCi is rated to 295lb ft, although insiders say measures are being taken to upgrade it for use in performance-oriented Volvos.