The ultra-hot RS has been the staple of the Ford Focus lineup for the past three generations, typically appearing near the end of the lifecycle. Fast Ford fans, then, will be disappointed to know that the Rallye Sport badge won’t make an appearance on the fourth-gen model, according to French website Caradisiac.

It all comes down to tightening emissions regulations, the Blue Oval reportedly told the publication. In Europe, all manufacturers will be required to have fleet-wide average carbon dioxide emissions of under 95 grams per kilometre by next year (although the coronavirus pandemic could change things).

This translates to a fuel consumption figure of 4.1 litres per 100 km for petrol engines or 3.6 litres per 100 km for diesels. Companies that fall foul of the regulations come 2021 will be required to pay hefty fines, a situation Ford would surely not want to find itself in.

The ST will remain the most potent version of the fourth-generation Focus

Now, obviously the problem would be solved if the carmaker adopted the electrification technology that was rumoured to be planned for the hot hatch. Initially, the plan was to use a 48-volt mild hybrid system to supplement the 2.3 litre turbocharged EcoBoost engine, but the aforementioned new regs forced Ford to consider a full parallel hybrid powertrain adapted from the new Kuga Hybrid, per Autocar.

But there is another issue at play here, and that is money. Engineering a complex hybrid system with the performance and light weight that an RS deserves is difficult enough on its own, but the company is also going on a cost-cutting exercise in Europe, shuttering plants, cutting jobs and streamlining its model range. Ford has already culled unprofitable models like the Ka+ and Edge in the continent, Caradisiac said.

For now, then, the fourth-gen Focus range will top out with the ST, which already makes a potent 276 hp and 430 Nm of torque. Ditching the RS means that Ford has the room to possibly to introduce a more hardcore version of the ST, which could come with slightly more power and some chassis tweaks.