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Ford Focus RS: Rally-Bred Super Hatch

Motoring Channel Staff - 24/July/2008

Ford Focus RS
Ford Focus RS

Ford Focus RS
Powered by a 224kW (300hp) 5-cylinder turbo
engine, the 2009 Ford Focus RS means business

Ford Focus RS
It's lower, wider, and meaner than the standard Focus

Ford Focus RS
Riding on 19-inch alloy wheels and boasting a
very bold bodykit, the Focus RS makes an impact

Ford Focus RS
The interior looks special (and green)

Ford RS: Really Sporty

The Blue Oval's European 'RS' badge has a 40-year history that began in the late 1960s and spawned vehicles like the 1970 Escort RS1600 and the 1992 Escort RS Cosworth.

"We want the new Focus RS to be a serious high performance car – as much a car for driving enthusiasts as the one before it and classic Ford RS models of the past," Jost Capito, Ford of Europe's Performance Vehicle director. 

"We're staying true to the core RS principles of an exciting, yet affordable performance road car you can live with every day," stated Capito.

- Motoring Channel Staff

London, England — Some people get out the Champagne when they succeed, but Ford's continued successes in the World Rally Championship have manifested themselves in a new car - the second generation high performance Focus RS.

Unveiled at '08 British Motor Show, the new model is wider, more powerful, more nimble and altogether angrier-looking than the Focus ST (a.k.a Focus XR5 Turbo).

The rally-bred Focus RS is set for an early 2009 release in Europe and only 5000 units will be made, which will ensure the RS badge retains its exclusivity.

We asked Ford Australia what it thought of the lurid green Focus RS, and the company's brand manager said: "It looks sensational and while it would be great to have something [like this], we won't be importing this model to Australia."

The rumours of a 5-cylinder FPV sports hatch in Australia have officially been quashed.

Engine

The new Ford Focus RS could be a Subaru WRX STI and Mitsubishi Lancer Evo rival, particularly when its boosted 2.5-litre turbo mill outputs 224kW (300hp) and 410Nm of torque.

The engine is a modified version of 2.5-litre turbocharged 5-cylinder block from the Ford Focus XR5 Turbo, which scored four out of five Wombats in the 2006 road test.

Ford of Europe explained that while the car is still in development, "early performance testing indicates a 0-100km/h (0-62mph) time of under 6.0 seconds".

Expect top speed to be around 250km/h.

Chassis

It rides on large 19-inch alloy wheels shod with low profile 235/35 R19 Continental tyres, has a 40mm wider track complete with flared wheel arches, and a stronger driveshaft to weather increased punishment.

There's also new suspension that includes revised springs and dampers plus a thicker and longer rear anti-roll bar.

The steering has been tweaked to give it a motor sports feel and the anchors have been upsized. 

The front brake discs have a 336mm diameter, the rears 300mm, to generate "vice-like stopping power on road or track" according to Ford.

Changes to the ESP software make it less intrusive, which Ford says facilitates a very sporty driving style before activating.

"We are refining all the handling characteristics of Focus RS without ESP, to hone its natural responses, rather than use ESP to help its handling. 

"In Focus RS, ESP is a pure safety device," said Jost Capito, Ford of Europe's Performance Vehicle guru.

Another chassis upgrade included on the Ford Focus RS is the 'RevoKnuckle' front suspension system.

It's designed to reduce torque steer and what Ford calls unwanted steering disturbances through the front wheels and works in tandem with a Quaife Automatic Torque Biasing limited-slip differential.

"The Ford Focus is an excellent base for a high performance car – agile, responsive and stable," explained Jost Capito. "We studied at length how best to enhance these qualities for a high performance model. 

"Our work has shown clearly that our approach in combining a tuned RevoKnuckle with the Quaife differential is an ideal solution for a high performance front-wheel-drive road car like Focus RS."

"As you would expect," continued Capito, "we gave all-wheel-drive careful consideration, but by combining and tuning these elements and learning from Ford's expertise in industry-leading handling, we have managed to eliminate the weight of AWD from the car and still have been able to target a class-leading balance of traction, handling and performance."

Design

Showing a bold body kit, sitting on big rims and low profile tyres and with a wider stance than its donor car, the Ford Focus RS makes a huge visual statement (especially in the lurid green colour).

"We believe it's vitally important that a Focus RS looks like both a Focus and an RS – it needs to be individual, distinctive and overt in its performance styling, but it also needs to show a clear progression from and relationship to Focus ST," said Stefan Lamm, the Chief Exterior Designer at Ford of Europe.

Along with its flared wheel arches and 19-inch alloy wheels, the Focus RS receives the following body work changes:

Hood vents
RS Badging
New (wider) front and rear quarter panels
Large front air dam
Deep front fog lights
New side skirts
Aero roof spoiler
Large twin exhausts
Rear diffuser

Ford says that London show car previews the "design intent" for a final production vehicle and that some final details may change before volume production begins.

The interior of the Ford Focus RS has also been upgraded to coincide with the vehicle's motor sports attitude, "dominated by bespoke, sculpted Recaro high-performance sports seats" according to Ford. The seats are also colour-matched to the exterior and feature ebony leather accents, plus 'RS' and 'Recaro' logos.

Brushed aluminium and carbon-look trim give the interior a sporty look and feel, and the 6-speed manual gear lever finished gets RS graphics as does the steering wheel. 

There's three new gauges to inform drivers of turbo and oil pressure.

Ford of Europe's big chief, John Fleming, said "RS is uniquely important to us in terms of our performance heritage and World Rally Championship success, while the Focus has played a major part in establishing Ford’s excellent reputation for driving dynamics.

"The all-new Focus RS will embrace and celebrate both of these – it will be a genuine RS and a genuine Focus and I'm confident it won't disappoint in either area," concluded Fleming.

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