In America, the past few model years felt like the beginning of something truly wonderful for hot hatches. The Honda Civic Type R and Ford Focus RS were sold new here for the first time ever, and everything felt right. Then, with no loyalty at all, everyone tossed their hands up and yelled, “Screw small cars!”
That got us here—talking about the possibility of a Ford Edge RS, which would take the famous RS badge we in America had so little time with on the Focus hot hatch and put it on the grim reaper of small cars: crossovers.
How ironic it all is.
To be fair, all we’re doing is talking. Automakers and other brands say all the time that they’d be “interested” in doing something and never actually do it, because if conversation’s there, they might as well engage and get some press. But Motor Trend asked one of Ford Performance’s chief engineers, Ed Krenz, about the possibility of an Edge RS at the launch for the Edge ST trim recently, and said Krenz “interestingly” seemed to have an answer ready.
Krenz said an Edge RS SUV would have to have more power and performance features, like “more aggressive tires, more aggressive suspension setup, active dampers, [and] torque vectoring.” He also didn’t rule out a third pedal and a shifter with numbers on it instead of letters, via Motor Trend:
“I think there is definitely a manual transmission enthusiasts group,” said Krenz. “It’s something on a Mustang product that we refused to walk away from, the manual transmission. You know, the Fiesta and Focus STs traditionally have had that capability. I think we’re gonna learn a little bit, whether or not this segment really requires that.”
Almost every manufacturer has its performance badges, and some carry more connotative weight than others. Labels like the ST and RS, and Honda’s Type R mentioned earlier, feel synonymous with small, thrashing cars and hot hatches—“RS” stands for “Rallye Sport,” after all, and the only transmission option on the outgoing Fiesta ST, Focus ST and Focus RS is a manual.
But right after temporarily bringing the famous Ford Focus RS to the U.S. for the first time, Ford said it would toss out every small car in the North American lineup other than the Mustang. That’s because small cars and sedans are out, while crossovers and SUVs spend all year selling like pumpkin-flavored snacks and drinks at the first hint of fall.
Thus, goodbye Focus, goodbye performance badges reserved for small cars with stick shifts, hello crossovers and SUVs in their hulking, automatic glory.
Ford merged the performance badges into the crossover- and SUV-pocalypse, making the Edge ST a thing as of the 2019 model year with a 2.7-liter V6 engine rated at 335 horsepower and 380 lb-ft of torque. That’s in addition to an eight-speed automatic transmission, “Sport Mode” and all-wheel drive. Now, the Edge could get an RS, and who knows what other vehicles may be next.
But at the end of the day, no matter how much us car enthusiasts fighting for Euro-spec wagons, hot hatches and small cars hate to admit it, crossovers and SUVs make sense. They make money, they work for people with families and stuff to haul around, and performance SUV trims provide an option for people who want something that isn’t lame but also need the space. It just hurts to see the ST and RS badges pumped out as shiny, new money makers in the U.S. while we’ll be stuck browsing the used market and making jokes about head gaskets.
In a perfect world, current-model-year performance sedans, hatches and SUVs would all live together, in harmony, and we wouldn’t have this raging jealousy as the world leaves our passions behind in favor of ease and functionality.
Alas, a perfect world this is not.