The waiting is finally over! Ford has unleashed its spectacular new Focus RS… and here are the first official pictures. These images, taken earlier this month in a top secret studio, show what drivers’ can expect from the newcomer due to on sale early next year priced from £25,000.
For performance road car enthusiasts, the new model will mark a welcome return for the Ford RS badge. This will be the second Focus model to carry the RS mantle and promises another exciting chapter in an exciting 40-year story that began in Germany in the late 1960s and gained momentum across Europe with the launch of the 1970 Escort RS1600.
But while the exterior styling is getting fast Ford fans excited, its what is under the bonnet that’s creating almost as much of a stir among performance car afficionadoes. Developing an incredible 296bhp, the car will be the most powerful road going RS Ford has ever built.
Powered by a highly tuned 2.5-litre five-cylinder engine, Blue Oval engineers promise that the new RS will be capable of sprinting from 0-60mph in less than six seconds. Top speed will be 155mph.
What’s even more amazing is that all of this performance will be available from a car that is front wheel drive. Ford decided to abandon plans for a 4x4 evolution of its performance flagship on the basis the system would add too much cost and weight to the basic Focus. As a result the newcomer gets a special Quaif developed limited slip differential and an uprated six speed manual gearbox.
Jost Capito, Ford of Europe’s Vehicle Line Director for Performance Vehicles led the development of the car.
“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. “ he said “We’re staying true to the core RS principles of an exciting, yet affordable performance road car you can live with every day.”
The vehicle is finished in a special bright green paint with inlaid metallic flake, a striking, modern interpretation of the 1970s Le Mans Green of the Escort RS1600 era.
There are also wider wheel arches and a wider track, plus triangular, RS-badged vents on the flanks. Two classic-style bonnet louvres are both a styling hint at the power beneath and a practical requirement, maintaining correct system temperatures.
The completely new front bumper design for Focus RS incorporates a deep front airdam with a large, mesh lower grille. Stylish and practical, this prominent feature represents the latest Ford 'kinetic design' face and is finished in piano black. Above, chromed xenon headlamps stand out like cat’s eyes and are framed by matt-black housings with unique additional vents running underneath.
Above, a unique, twin-element, black RS rear spoiler sits at the Focus RS’ roofline, echoing both RS models of the past and the World Rally-winning Focus WRC that has been its inspiration.
“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, Chief Exterior Designer, Ford of Europe.
Inside, the interior is dominated by bespoke, sculpted Recaro high-performance sports seats, specially designed and trimmed for excellent support, even when driving enthusiastically. Each is colour-matched to the exterior, with ebony leather accents and ‘RS’ and ‘Recaro’ logos stitched into each backrest.
Elsewhere, colour brings new excitement to the Focus interior, building on the sporty interior theme of Focus ST with more use of accents matched to the exterior colour, brushed aluminium highlights and overt performance styling. Even the rear seats feature higher side bolsters and a microfibre finish to echo those up front.
The centre console is finished in a stylish gloss, carbon-look trim and metallic highlights abound, from air vents, door grab handles, switchgear and gearshift surround, to unique RS-branded scuff plates on the door sills. These highlights contrast with a black-trimmed roof lining, emphasising the sporty, cockpit feel.
The driver is reminded this is a special Focus at every touch, with a gear lever finished with a six speed gear shift graphic in RS blue, a sporty, three-spoke steering wheel, finished with ‘Ford’ and ‘RS’ logos and even aluminium foot pedals. The performance driving environment is completed by three additional gauges from the Focus ST, including turbo pressure, sitting atop the centre console and angled toward the driver’s eyeline.
At the heart of the all-new Focus RS is a specially developed, turbocharged version of the Duratec 2.5-litre 5-cylinder engine. Significantly revised for high performance, this powerplant is targeting an impressive power output of 300PS and over 410Nm of torque, contributing to an excellent power-to-weight ratio.
Such significant increases are not simply the result of altering engine management or boost pressure: starting with the Duratec 2.5-litre block, Ford RS engineers developed unique camshafts, a revised cylinder head and gasket and revised intake and manifold system for the car.
Although the car is still in development, prior to its launch in early 2009, early performance testing indicates a 0-100km/h (0-62mph) time of under six seconds.
Throughout Focus RS’ development, Capito and his team have been keeping a sharp focus on creating a car that delivers excellent performance and traction.
Various innovations, developed as a result of customer feedback from previous performance Fords, have allowed engineers to keep the new Focus RS as front-wheel drive, with a limited-slip differential, while still achieving demanding targets for traction, handling and steering.
The new Ford Focus RS is equipped with an innovative front suspension system known as a ‘RevoKnuckle’, which is designed to reduce unwanted steering disturbance and torque steer, the impact of torque on steering in front-wheel driven vehicles. Torque steer occurs during hard acceleration, cornering or driving on uneven surfaces, when torque on the driven wheels exceeds grips levels. It is characterised by sudden turning force on the steering wheel and can be exacerbated by vehicles with wide tyres and limited-slip differentials.
In Focus RS, the RevoKnuckle works in conjunction with a Quaife Automatic Torque Biasing limited-slip differential. Ford Team RS engineers have worked closely with Ford's Advanced Research Centre in Aachen, Germany to develop the RevoKnuckle technology specifically for the high performance Focus RS. It allows the simplicity of a traditional McPherson strut arrangement, but with geometry settings that minimize steering disturbances and torque steer, principally a reduction in steering offset.
“The Ford Focus is an excellent base for a high performance car – agile, responsive and stable,” explained 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, 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.
“The result is a lightweight set-up, that will deliver the right blend of traction and razor sharp controllability – in a way no one would have expected from front-wheel-drive, and we believe we have made the right choice,” Capito concluded.