Has the new Ford Focus RS 2023 really been axed?

Much has been said about the yet-to-be-revealed fourth-generation Ford Focus RS hot hatch, with a new report claiming it has been cancelled, but is that really the case?

According to Caradisiac, the next Focus RS program has been axed due to the European Union’s fleet-wide average carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions target of 95 grams per kilometre, which is due to kick in next year. Its alleged source? Ford itself.

That said, CarsGuide understands news of the new Focus RS’ demise is premature, as there is still a chance it will come to fruition.

It’s important to note that the second- and third-generation models were revealed about four and five years after their non-performance counterparts respectively.

So, given the fourth-generation Focus debuted in April 2018, its RS flagship could appear as early as the first half of 2022, if not 2023, meaning Ford still has time on its side.

Just like the previous two generations, the next Focus RS therefore could launch following the mid-life facelift of its non-performance counterparts, but it all hinges on Ford working out a cost-efficient way to minimise the model’s pollution.

Autocar reported in April 2018 the new Focus RS would retain its predecessor’s Mustang-sourced 2.3-litre EcoBoost turbo-petrol four-cylinder engine but add an emissions-reducing 48V mild-hybrid system.

Two months ago, Autocar published another report, citing a senior Ford executive who claimed “the mild hybrid is not enough”, with a high-performance version of the Escape mid-size SUV’s plug-in hybrid powertrain instead set for the next Focus RS.

When contacted by CarsGuide, a Ford Australia spokesperson said: “It’s far too early to speculate on any future plans for RS.”

However, they did add that “the C2 platform that underpins the new-generation Focus features an up-to-the-minute, highly advanced technology-laden architecture, which has enabled our Focus line-up a range of efficient powertrains”.

Reading between the lines, it certainly appears the new Focus RS is very much still under development – for now – and it’s looking to snatch the Mercedes-AMG A45 S’ crown.