The future of the the auto market is never clearly defined. Some years, it looks as though everyone will be driving small electric hybrids. The next, pickup truck sales explode through the roof. But with 2015 models already on lots and 2016 models on the horizon, automakers are showing signs that they are willing to give fans of speed and power exactly what they’ve been hoping for.
The most recent evidence comes in the form of rumors that Ford will be revealing not one but two new vehicles — both the Shelby Mustang GT350R and Focus RS — at the upcoming North American International Auto Show. The news comes our way via TopSpeed, which says that both cars’ performance stats should be enough to make any fan salivate.
As far as the GT350R goes, TopSpeed puts the car’s zero-to-60 time at an estimated 3.5 seconds and the estimated top speed at 190 miles per hour. While the exact specifications are still up in the air, it appears as though the GT350R will be quicker, lighter, and more race track-focused. The exterior will probably see some minor updates over the original GT350, as will what’s under the hood. The 5.2-liter V8 engine is expected to remain, but with a reworked exhaust system and a six-speed manual transmission.
Getting down to the numbers, TopSpeed says it’s safe to assume that the GT350R will probably be able to produce more than 520 horsepower and 460 pounds-feet of torque. To put it another way, the GT350R will be a monster.
While consumers have plenty of reason to be excited about the new GT350R Mustang, perhaps news of the Ford Focus RS finally resurfacing is even more titillating. It looks as though the wishes of many are finally going to manifest, as TopSpeed has also reported that a Focus RS, due out for the 2016 model year, may join the GT350R on stage at the Detroit Auto Show.
This will mark the second incarnation of the performance-based variant of Ford’s popular commuter car, which is expected to be available for purchase worldwide. TopSpeed expects the new RS to look as rendered above: a four-door hatchback with some exterior updates. The RS may sport larger wheels, an updated front grille, and a slew of new intake improvements. The other striking feature is in the color scheme: the roof, mirrors, and spoiler will all sport a jet-black color, in stark contrast to the rest of the vehicle.
As far as under the hood goes, it’s expected that Ford will announce the RS with a 330-horsepower, 2.3-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder motor sourced from the Mustang. A six-speed manual transmission is also rumored, but we’ll have to wait for the vehicle’s debut to be absolutely sure. Pricing data is still unavailable, but TopSpeed estimates the RS to land in the $30,000 to $40,000 range.
While the Focus RS and the new Mustang variant are sure to capture plenty of attention in Detroit, those two models aren’t the end of the performance vehicle salvo Ford is unleashing on consumers. Edmunds reports that joining those two will be a new SVT F-150 Raptor pickup truck. The Raptor F-150 variant is a model that is built for off-road performance, and it has been a real hit with consumers. The Raptor originally debuted in 2010 and has been a very popular model, considering it’s not a volume seller. That is probably why the company is willing to invest in an even more performance-focused version.
Edmunds says the SVT F-150 Raptor should be based off the new aluminum-constructed F-150 platform, making it even lighter and more capable. Raj Nair, Ford group vice president and chief technical officer, told Edmunds that though the release date isn’t determined, the company wants to move fast with the new Raptor. “We have not announced timing for Raptor, but the cadence is reasonably close to the base vehicle,” he said. “I want to get it out as quickly as we can.”
Though Nair and Ford are seemingly in a rush to get the new Raptor to market, he and the rest of Ford’s brass are putting a lot of resources behind giving the company’s lineup a more performance-centric feel. As previously reported, there will be up to 12 new performance models brought to the market between now and 2020.
“Ford remains committed to innovation through performance,” Nair said in a statement last month. “Our new global Ford Performance team ties together racing, performance vehicles and parts. It will allow us to more quickly introduce products and accessories that meet the needs of customers around the world on-road and on the track.”
Ford is increasing its performance portfolio for a couple of simple reasons: obvious consumer interest and increased competition with new models from both General Motors and Dodge making serious waves. Chevy just released the new Corvette Z06 and also has the Camaro Z28 to compete with. Dodge, on the other hand, has the new big dog on the block with the Hellcat models of both the Challenger and Charger.
All in all, it’s a great time to be a fan of American muscle and performance cars. The other great thing? These cars are expected to be reasonably priced, with consumers benefiting from the increased competition within the performance segment. But is Ford ready to blow its competitors away with the slew of new performance vehicles it reportedly has in the works? That just might be the case.
If the future holds more models like the GT350R Mustang, Focus RS, and a revamped F-150 Raptor, Ford may be claiming the edge in the performance segment before things really heat up. It’ll be interesting to see how or when Ford’s rivals respond, and what they’ll bring to the table. What we know now is that Ford is pushing in a lot of chips when it comes to performance cars, and consumers will end up being the true winners.