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Ford Focus RS chief pans waste-of-time autos

By John Carey, 01 Feb 2016 News

Ford Focus RS chief pans waste-of-time autos

Here’s why Ford’s quickest hatch will be six-speed manual only

WHY will we get only a six-speed manual Ford Focus RS?

Because developing a double-clutch auto for the stirring performance hatch would have been a waste of time, according to senior Ford engineer Tyrone Johnson.

“We didn’t need an automatic transmission to sell more than we’re going to sell anyway,” Johnson insisted. “It doesn’t matter.”     

The vehicle engineering manager, who led the Ford Performance team through the almost three-year development program for the Focus RS, isn’t eager to talk about future product. And there’s an annoying PR minder close by to make sure he doesn’t give in to the temptation.

But it is clear the German-American, a 31-year Ford lifer, doesn’t see any pressing need for RS models with only two pedals.

In the case of the Focus RS specifically, buyers are offered no other choice than a six-speed manual because this transmission is lighter.

Ford -Focus -RS-interiorReducing understeer was a very high priority during development of the car, Johnson said, and any kind of auto would have added about 30kg over the front axle.

But it’s also clear this senior engineer doesn’t have a very high opinion of double-clutch transmissions. And not only because of their weight…

Discussing the Mercedes A45 AMG (Ford Performance bought one for evaluation during the Focus RS program), Johnson gets animated.

“The Mercedes that we just talked about has a 0-100km/h time of 4.5 seconds… in Launch Mode,” he says.

“What do you think the 0-100km/h time is when you’re not in Launch Mode, that is 99 percent of the time that you’re driving the car?” he demands, before providing the answer to his own question: 5.6 seconds.

“So it’s over a second slower 99 percent of the time,” Johnson continues. “What’s the point of that?”

The Focus RS, in contrast, can deliver its full acceleration potential full time, he says. While it’s easiest to get the best 0-100km/h number using the Ford’s Launch Control tech, the car isn’t effectively hobbled if the driver doesn’t call on it.

The message seems clear, despite the ban on discussing future product; don’t expect anything wearing an RS badge to come auto-equipped anytime soon.