The hotly anticipated but not yet officially confirmed Ford Focus RS500 may never make it to production amid fears it could encroach on Mustang territory in America.
That is according to ‘well-placed’ sources who spoke to Autocar, which claim Ford is worried a 400bhp version of the Focus RS hyper hatchback “could be treading on other cars’ toes”, referring to the 2016 Mustang and Shelby GT350.
The lack of support for the RS500 from Ford’s American dealers is said to be keeping the project from getting the internal support it needs to progress. The same sources believe there is, in fact, only a 30 per cent chance it will survive.
Another concern is that building an ‘RS500-lite’ could dilute the RS badge, which Ford is obviously keen to protect. There was an RS500 version of the previous Focus RS but it was only offered in Europe.
Ford Europe, meanwhile, is said to be happy with the addition of a more powerful Focus RS and believes the market can cope with both models. That seems like common sense to us as both cars are fundamentally different and the appeal of the ‘stang makes it a unique proposition in a country deprived of American muscle.
The RS500 is yet to be confirmed officially, but previous reports suggested Ford was keen to have a “star” in the range. A production run of 500 cars has been speculated.
The current Focus RS makes 345bhp, features all-wheel drive and can hit 0-62mph in 4.5 seconds. The 2016 Ford Mustang, which is available in right-hand drive, generates 430hp in its 5.0 V8 guise. It is thought the RS500 would take the 0-62mph down to 4.2 seconds.
We have approached Ford for comment. Check out our Ford Focus RS video review in the meantime to get the Recombu Cars verdict.