Hot Hatch Meets Pickup Truck: Why Ford Needs to Build a 350hp Maverick RS
Ford, for lack of a better word, seems to be killing it these days. The Bronco and the Bronco Sport are some of the hottest SUVs to come around in some time. The electric F-150 Lightning is looking to break ground in the EV pickup segment, and the Mustang Mach-E is another hot commodity in the electric car space.
But with that said, there’s still a gap in Ford's lineup that’s been empty since the company pulled cars like Fiesta ST, Focus ST and Focus RS out of the North American market. And right now those looking for a performance Ford that isn’t a Mustang or an SUV, will have to go with another brand.
A New Kind of Performance Truck
And while we’d certainly welcome the return of the Fiesta and Focus ST models currently available in Europe, there’s another enticing option that could be made a reality for this market—a high performance, enthusiast version of the Maverick pickup.
While it may not be a Euro-bred hot hatch, a hypothetical Maverick ST or Maverick RS has the potential to be every bit as fun as those cars, while also being more suited to the American market.
The key here is that this concept isn't some pie in the sky idea—Ford basically has all of the components to make it happen right now.
The Maverick shares its basic platform with the Escape and Bronco Sport crossovers, which in turn are closely related to the Focus hatchback. It doesn’t take a big leap to imagine fusing the two for a rally-inspired compact pickup with hot hatch-grade performance.
Take the engine. At the moment the most powerful engine you can get in a Maverick is a 250hp 2.0L EcoBoost four-cylinder. Imagine if that engine was swapped out for the 2.3 liter EcoBoost that powered the old Focus RS and currently powers the Mustang.
350 horsepower in a compact, unibody pickup? Yes please. Ford has already used the 2.3L EcoBoost in several transverse applications, including the aforementioned Focus RS. And while it’d be awesome to see the Focus RS 6-speed manual, even a beefed, snappier version of the current eight-speed auto would be acceptable.
Another key to this hot Maverick would be the AWD system. And the parts already exist in the form of the torque-vectoring rear diff used in the Focus RS. It's this that elevated the RS from a powerful hot hatch into something capable of tail-out shenanigans, complete with a factory "drift mode."
There's no reason this differential couldn't be adapted to the Maverick. In fact, a very similar unit is currently used in the Bronco Sport Badlands, and its the main ingredient for the Badlands' serious off-road capability.
An Idea Too Good Not to Happen
The biggest thing to figure out on this model would be the suspension settings. Would you go stiff and grippy like in the old Focus RS, something a little softer maybe, made for bombing down dirt roads like a baby Raptor? Maybe have options for both?
The Maverick is already a fairly unique vehicle in its base form, but a hot, enthusiast model would be a segment buster that would likely draw buyers from across different markets including former hot hatch owners and fans of small pickups.
And in addition to being highly unique, it also has the potential to be quite affordable. Right now a 2.0 EcoBoost Maverick with AWD can be had with an MSRP below $25,000. Could a 2.3 liter version with all the performance goodies be had in the $35,000 range?
How realistic is this idea? It's hard to say. But we had a vision of a similar idea with the Tucci Hot Rods-built Maverick that Ford had on display at SEMA this year, complete with a dropped suspension and wide-body panels.
A Maverick RS might sound very niche on paper, but all the ingredients are there to build performance street machine that's fun, fast, unique and extremely practical.
Now let's see it become a reality.
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