Escort RS. Sierra RS. Focus RS. Dating back as far as 1969, Ford has been producing special RS models for consumers as the base for their race and rally programs in Europe and the UK. These much coveted machines have never been made available to North American consumers. That is about to change with the introduction of the 2016 Ford Focus RS, which is officially coming to our shores. Finally.
This is the third generation Focus RS and it might well be the hottest hot hatch ever. Ford brought in chief Hoonigan Ken Block to work with their development team to ensure that the RS would perform the way it should. Performance shouldn’t be a worry, as the all wheel drive focus is powered by a 2.3L turbo four cylinder that churns out a stonking 315 horsepower.
Naturally the reveal of a car that has been touched by a driver like Block has to offer a bit of excitement, so the launch team created their own version of Gymkhana, where Block hoons it up in a Focus RS prototype at Ford’s Cologne manufacturing plant.
As good as the RS is, it clearly isn’t quite as radical as Block’s usual rides, not that anyone should expect it would be. The OMG, what have I done look on Block’s face during the drive is priceless!
There is more good news here too, as the press release below tells us that this is just the first new performance model from Ford to be launched within the next five years!
Ford press release
ALL-NEW FORD FOCUS RS; HIGH-PERFORMANCE HATCH WITH INNOVATIVE ALL-WHEEL DRIVE SET FOR U.S. DEBUT
Third-generation Ford Focus RS will be available in major markets around the world and for the first time in the United States; Focus RS follows the reveal last month of the new Ford GT supercar – a new era of Ford performance that will deliver 12 new vehicles by 2020
All-new Ford Performance All-Wheel Drive with Dynamic Torque Vectoring Control paired with a powerful 2.3-liter EcoBoost® four-cylinder engine will provide impressive performance
Aggressive, functional design inside and out makes Focus RS the most powerful production Focus ever, with highly capable performance on both road and track
Professional rally driver and star of Gymkhana films Ken Block teamed with Ford as a consultant on development of Focus RS
Ford today revealed the all-new Focus RS, a high-performance road car that debuts Ford Performance All-Wheel Drive with Dynamic Torque Vectoring Control, which contributes to performance never before seen in a Focus RS. The all-new Focus RS is equipped with a new 2.3-liter EcoBoost® engine producing well in excess of 315 horsepower.
Focus RS is the latest unveiling in a new era of Ford performance that will bring more than 12 performance vehicles to global customers by 2020.
In addition to pleasing enthusiasts, these vehicles help deliver the company’s One Ford plan for profitable growth, product excellence and innovation in every part of its business.
“The all-new Focus RS is a serious machine with high-performance technology and innovative engineering that sets a new benchmark for driving exhilaration on the road and track,” said Raj Nair, group vice president, Global Product Development, Ford Motor Company. “The RS line has a proud history of technical breakthroughs that have migrated to mainstream Ford vehicles to benefit all of our customers, and the new Focus RS is no exception. It’s a great example of our passion for innovation through performance, and creating vehicles that make people’s hearts pound.”
Developed by a small team of global Ford Performance engineers, the new Focus RS is the third generation in the line, following models launched in 2002 and 2009. It will be the 30th car to wear the legendary RS badge, following such technology trendsetters as the 1970 Escort RS1600 with 16 valves, 1985 Sierra RS Cosworth with turbocharging and radical aerodynamics and 1992 Escort RS Cosworth with four-wheel drive.
Sporting a dramatic exterior design that delivers enhanced aerodynamics and cooling, the new Focus RS offers technologies new to the RS line including Ford SYNC® connectivity system.
The all-new Focus RS is the first-ever RS model that will be sold around the world, including the United States, and produced for all markets at Ford’s Saarlouis, Germany, manufacturing plant beginning late this year.
“We are acutely aware of the benchmarks we have set ourselves with RS performance models through the years, and rest assured this new car raises the game to a new level,” said Jim Farley, president, Ford of Europe, Middle East and Africa.
“Just as important is the fact that with technologies such as EcoBoost, we are able to demonstrate how an innovation that powers almost every car in our range can also be the heartbeat of our finest performance cars,” added Farley.
Gymkhana and World Rallycross star Ken Block was brought on as a consultant on the all-new Focus RS, and joined the Ford Performance team at the preview event in Cologne, Germany –where the RS legend was born with the Ford 15M RS in 1968.
Innovative Ford Performance All-Wheel Drive offers a new level of handling
The all-new Focus RS exploits innovative new Ford Performance All-Wheel Drive with Dynamic Torque Vectoring to deliver a new level of handling capability and driver enjoyment, combining outstanding traction and grip with exciting agility and cornering speed.
The Ford Performance All-Wheel-Drive system is based on twin electronically controlled clutch packs on each side of the rear drive unit. These manage the car’s front/rear torque split, and can control the side-to-side torque distribution on the rear axle – delivering the “torque vectoring” capability that has a dramatic impact on handling and cornering stability.
The control unit in the rear drive unit continuously varies the front/rear and side-to-side torque distribution to suit the current driving situation, monitoring inputs from multiple vehicle sensors 100 times per second. A maximum of 70 percent of the drive torque can be diverted to the rear axle. Up to 100 percent of available torque at the rear axle can be sent to each rear wheel.
During cornering, the rear drive unit pre-emptively diverts torque to the outer rear wheel immediately based on inputs such as steering wheel angle, lateral acceleration, yaw and speed. This torque transfer has the effect of “driving” the car into the bend, achieving improved turn-in and stability, and virtually eliminating understeer.
The AWD system has been tuned to deliver exceptional grip – with lateral acceleration exceeding 1 g – and great cornering speed and acceleration out of a bend. With neutral and adjustable limit handling, and the ability to achieve controlled oversteer drifts at the track, Focus RS delivers an exceptional fun-to-drive experience.
To deliver optimum driving dynamics, the Ford Performance All-Wheel-Drive system was calibrated alongside the car’s advanced Electronic Stability Control, in particular the brake-based Torque Vectoring Control system that works in parallel with the torque-vectoring AWD. Other exclusive chassis features include sports suspension with spring rates, bushings and antiroll bars – all of which are stiffer than those found in Focus ST, and two-mode switchable dampers, which offer a firmer setting for track driving. A carefully tuned electric power-assisted steering system working in combination with a more rigid front suspension knuckle design and shorter-link arms delivers connected and responsive steering with outstanding feel.
“The Focus ST and Fiesta ST showed that we can achieve sporty steering feel with an electric power-assisted steering system, and the RS raises the bar,” said Dave Pericak, director, Global Ford Performance. “We set out to provide drivers with steering that is very direct, precise and well balanced – and the RS delivers.”
Ford engineers worked closely with Michelin to develop a choice of high-performance 235/35 R19 tires to complement the driving dynamics of the Focus RS: a standard Pilot Super Sport tire for every-day use, and – for the first time on an RS – an optional Pilot Sport Cup 2 tire for enhanced vehicle dynamics on the track.
The vehicle’s exterior design has also been developed to support the dynamic objectives. Careful aerodynamic optimization of the front splitter, rear spoiler and underbody features eliminates lift forces, and the final design delivers balanced performance with zero lift front and rear for optimum high-speed handling and stability.
Unique powertrain for increased output
Ford’s EcoBoost technology powers Focus RS and nearly every new Ford vehicle. The specially engineered 2.3-liter EcoBoost engine has levels of power and torque that translate into impressive acceleration when combined with the exceptional all-wheel-drive traction.
Projected to produce well in excess of 315 horsepower, the custom unit shares its fundamental structure with the all-aluminum 2.3-liter four-cylinder engine in the all-new Mustang, but has been significantly upgraded through a comprehensive package of design changes.
Increased output is generated by a new low-inertia twin-scroll turbocharger with larger compressor that delivers significantly greater airflow, along with a much bigger intercooler to maximize charge density. Engine breathing is enhanced through a less restrictive intake design, and a large-bore high-performance exhaust system with an electronically controlled valve in the tailpipe that helps optimize the balance of back pressure and noise output.
The cylinder head is produced from an upgraded alloy material capable of withstanding higher temperatures, and is mounted on a more robust head gasket with improved thermal capability. The cylinder block employs stronger high-tensile cast iron liners.
Engine cooling also has been given the highest priority, with engineers creating additional space within the front of the vehicle to house a significantly larger radiator pack that provides the level of cooling demanded for hard circuit use.
Meticulous calibration work ensures that the power unit delivers excellent low-end responsiveness with a powerful mid-range pull, climbing to a free-revving top end up to a maximum rev limit of 6,800 rpm.
The six-speed manual transmission has been optimized for the enthusiast driver with a shorter gear lever to deliver faster and more accurate shifts. Both the transmission and the clutch have been upgraded with stronger components to cope with the engine’s increased torque output.
With its high-efficiency EcoBoost design featuring direct fuel injection, twin independent variable camshaft timing, advanced turbocharging and Auto Start-Stop as standard, the engine also delivers significantly improved fuel consumption.
High-performance design for stunning looks with optimum function
Focus RS exterior design is both dramatic and functional, with a more powerful and muscular character. Designers worked closely with Ford Performance to ensure that the necessary functional attributes were achieved, focusing on the aerodynamic downforce and balance delivered by the design, as well as the cooling demands of the powertrain and brakes.
RS features a powerful new front end appearance with a bold upper trapezoidal grille above the deep splitter, incorporating the largest possible apertures for engine cooling. A wide, muscular stance is emphasized by the lower wings and large outboard openings on each side of the car, which feed the brake cooling ducts and house vertically mounted lamps.
At the rear, the fascia panel is dominated by the exceptionally large diffuser, which optimizes airflow from under the vehicle and contains the twin round high-performance exhaust outlets. Focus RS for Europe and Asia markets will also get a clear central fog lamp. The distinctive rear roof spoiler is carefully integrated with the car’s silhouette through body-colored side panels featuring a subtle embossed RS logo.
The dynamic side profile is emphasized by sculptured rocker panels, and the bold wheel lips that house a choice of multi-spoke 19-inch RS alloy wheels – including a high-performance lightweight forged design finished in low-gloss black, which offers enhanced strength and impact resistance.
The high-performance character of Focus RS is reflected inside the car, where heavily bolstered partial-leather Recaro sports seats serve as the centerpiece of the cockpit.
The interior features the reworked Focus control layout with its simpler, more intuitive design. SYNC connectivity provides access to audio, navigation, climate control and mobile phones via voice control, and via a high-definition, 8-inch color touch screen. SYNC can be specified with rear view camera with park distance control, as well as a Sony premium sound system with 10-speakers including a subwoofer.
The RS driving experience is reinforced by a new flat-bottomed steering wheel with a soft-feel leather-covered rim, alloy pedals and unique instrument graphics within the main cluster. An additional bank of gauges above the center console displays turbocharger boost pressure, oil temperature and oil pressure.
Four striking exterior colors include Nitrous Blue, a vibrant four-coat metallic finish exclusive to RS, as well as Stealth Gray, Absolute Black and Frozen White. The car revealed in Cologne features the same special Liquid Blue color scheme first seen on the all-new Ford GT revealed last month at the North American International Auto Show.
Rich heritage of innovation and performance
Since the first Ford RS models took to the road, the line has been an essential element of Ford’s DNA, delivering technical innovation and performance on road and track. Dating back to the early days of Ford’s success in Rallye Sport, the first RS models established a reputation for advanced technology and driving exhilaration that continues to this day.