Image credits: Wouter Melissen / Ford Motor Company
The legendary Ford RS performance car brand is returning in the shape of the exciting new Ford Focus RS, which will be previewed on July 22 at the 2008 London International Motor Show. The new Focus RS will go on sale in early 2009 and is being created by a small team of dedicated engineers, under the direction of Jost Capito, Ford of Europe's Vehicle Line Director for Performance Vehicles. 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. Capito said: "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. We're staying true to the core RS principles of an exciting, yet affordable performance road car you can live with every day."
Before it even turns a wheel, the new Focus RS exudes the presence, sporty style and lowered, 'meaner' appearance expected of a genuine Ford RS. Overt performance styling details mix with subtle revisions to create a planted, powerful stance and the promise of an exciting drive. The London show car previews the design intent for a final production vehicle, though as development work continues, some final details may change before volume production begins. 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. The vibrant exterior colour is contrasted with a number of performance styling details highlighted in gloss 'piano black', including the strip at the leading edge of the bonnet, the deep housings for the integrated front fog lamps and door mirrors with integrated side indicators.
Front and rear quarter panels have been revised to incorporate wider wheel arches and a wider track, complemented by revised, deeper side rocker mouldings. In another visual reminder of the car's performance potential, triangular, RS-badged vents sit behind the front wheel arches. 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 in an extended trapezoid. Stylish and practical, this prominent feature represents the latest Ford 'kinetic design' face and also 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. At the rear, a deep new rear bumper incorporates a large Venturi tunnel to its lower edge with small vents at each corner of the bumper, emphasizing the car's width. Two impressive chromed exhaust tailpipes sit each side of the black Venturi, creating a purposeful rear view for the car. 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.
Inside, this theme continues with a unique and appropriately performance-oriented interior, 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 exhaust 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.
A genuine Focus RS must maintain and enhance the reputation for responsive, precise handling for which Focus is acclaimed and considerable engineering effort has ensured that the new Focus RS will do just that. Driving quality developments for Focus RS include a 40mm wider track, stronger, longer driveshafts, revised springs and dampers and a thicker, longer rear anti-roll bar. At the same time, the steering system has been retuned to provide an even sharper steering response and very precise feedback. Brakes also have been uprated, with 336mm ventilated front discs and 300mm rear discs generating vice-like stopping power on road or track. Large calipers peek out from behind unique 19-inch wheels, wrapped in 235/35 low profile Continental tyres. A special version of Ford's ESP system has also been developed for Focus RS, designed to allow a very sporty driving style before activating. Intensive work to refine the natural handling abilities of the car has allowed the ESP system to carry a full de-activation option for enthusiast drivers and especially for track use.
In creating the new Focus RS, Ford's Team RS engineers have had to meet the same stringent targets for durability and reliability as those set for the rest of the Focus range. Despite its many bespoke engineering and styling elements, Focus RS will be built entirely on the main Focus production line in Saarlouis, Germany and offered with a standard Ford of Europe warranty.
Company press release, last updated on October 12, 2008
It seems to me that once you're past a certain point a car loses the basic quick/cheap/simple/fun attitude that mark out the best hot-hatches. This car reminds me more of the last Focus RS (which didn't work out too well) and the Neon SRT4 than it does of the best hot hatchbacks. Where's the equivelent of the old Focus SVT?
If all you want is to go very quickly, then Mazda and Dodge have the US covered with the Mazdaspeed # and the Calibre SRT4. All Ford really needs to do is bring the euro-Focus in as a base model.
Bring a hot focus over here!
I wish they'd bring the hot focus back over here (the US)! I have a zx5 and when I graduate, I'd like to buy a new hot hatch, and I'd love for it to be a focus! I'm still pissed they took away all the hatchback models from the focus lineup! I rented a focus TdCi when I was in France last summer and it was fabulous! Looks great, drives even better! Ford, why have you forsaken us!
Another one lost...
How come none of the great small cars come to the States? We don't all like trucks, you know!