Ask any red-blooded petrol-head which cars they are most looking forward to seeing on our roads this year and there’s a good chance that the Ford Focus RS will be among them.
The new modelis the third generation of Focus RS following the 2002 and 2009 models. It’s also the 30th RS performance car from Ford since 1968, and the first with pro-rally driver and legendary Hoonigan Ken Block as a development consultant.
Historically, the Focus RS is a model renowned for performance, everyday practicality, and a down-to-earth price tag. And the new model takes this philosophy to extremes.
A modified version of Ford’s 2.3-litre EcoBoost engine, advanced all-wheel drive, and cutting-edge aerodynamic design all help to ensure that this is the fastest RS model ever.
Covering the 0-62 mph (0-100 km/h) sprint takes just 4.7 seconds – 0.3 seconds faster than the previous RS record-holder, Ford’s legendary RS200. Top speed is 165 mph.
And if you need something that can handle trips to the shops, or dropping the kids off – it can do that too.
With five-doors and a big boot, the Focus RShot hatchback is for drivers who need something practical and want to buy a car with performance car credentials for the track
Trailblazing engines are an RS hallmark. Ford’s 1985 Sierra RS Cosworth was the first production car to boast over 100 bhp (101 PS) per litre.
The engine that powers the Focus RS will be familiar to fast car fans from the new Ford Mustang.
But with a new, more responsive low-inertia turbocharger, much bigger intercooler, less restrictive intake design, and a large-bore high performance exhaust it produces 10 per cent more power.
That equates to 350 PS and 440 Nm of torque.With hard acceleration, a transient overboost function can deliver 470 Nm for up to 15 seconds.
And it wouldn’t be an RS model without a snorting, spitting soundtrack.
An electronically controlled valve in the exhaust helps optimise the balance of back pressure and noise output. A special fuel injection calibration delivers even more pops and burbles when the Sport option is selected in Drive Modes.
Driven around the bend
From the Quaife limited-slip differential of the 2002 Focus RS, to the innovative RevoKnuckle suspension of the 2009 model, Focus RS models have always used advanced technology for sharper handling.
Ford Performance All Wheel Drive is a completely new system developed for the Focus RS. It can send up to 70 per cent of drive torque to the rear wheels, and then send up to 100 per cent of that torque to either the rear- left or rear-right wheel.
By switching drive from one side to the other in as little as 0.06 seconds, the Focus RS can produce up to 1 g of lateral force through bends and better cornering than any sports car in its class.
And for the first time, Drive Modes are available on a Ford RS, including Normal and Sport for road driving, and Track for use on circuits.
The industry-first Drift Mode is for eye-catching slides. Launch Control delivers super-fast acceleration off the line.
Style and substance
Remember the iconic whale-tail exhausts on the 1987 Sierra RS500 Cosworth and 1992 Escort RS Cosworth? Aerodynamics still plays a big role in RS performance.
A bold grille helps engine cooling, and the wide stance leaves room for cooling vents for the brakes.
Close attention also has been paid to the deep front splitter, huge rear diffuser and rear roof spoiler that optimises airflow, and to special 19-inch alloy wheels that are also available in a lightweight version that saves 950 g per wheel for even better handling.
The RS badge blends performance and practicality. Drivers access smart car technologies from their Recaro sports seats, to play music, set navigation, and make and receive calls – all via voice control.
The RS is not the only Focus EcoBoost performance model – the Focus ST is also now available with a choice of petrol or diesel engines – but it sets a new benchmark for performance from the Ford RS badge.
Just like iconic Ford RS models such as the 1970 Escort RS1600, 1973 Capri RS3100 and 1990 Fiesta RS Turbo – all high-performance versions of popular road cars – the new Focus RS reaches new heights for speed, handling and driving enjoyment through innovation and pioneering technology.