Ford's New Focus RS

BY Azfar Hashim

Listen up all hot-hatch fans: Ford's all-wheel drive Focus RS all set to thrill!

Ford has previewed the all-new Ford Focus RS, debuting together with the brand's innovative Ford Performance All-Wheel-Drive. Equipped with a tuned 2.3-litre EcoBoost engine engineered to produce well in excess of 320 PS (315 bhp), this is the latest vehicle to be unveiled as part of a new era of Ford performance that will bring more than 12 performance vehicles to global customers by 2020.

Developed by a small team of Ford Performance engineers in Europe and US, the new Focus RS is the third generation of Focus RS cars, 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 16-valve 1970 Escort RS1600, the turbocharged Sierra RS Cosworth of 1985 (oh, and remember its radical aerodynamics?), and the four-wheel-drive 1992 Escort RS Cosworth. The all-new Focus RS is also the first ever RS model that will be sold around the world and produced for all markets at Ford’s Saarlouis, Germany, manufacturing plant beginning late this year.

Unique to this version is the Ford Performance AWD system. The AWD system has been tuned to deliver exceptional grip, with lateral acceleration exceeding 1 g. The 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 also can control the side-to-side torque distribution on the rear axle — delivering the “torque vectoring” capability, which has a dramatic impact on handling and cornering stability. Other exclusive chassis features include sports suspension with spring rates, bushes and anti-roll bars all of which are stiffer than those found in the Focus ST, and two-mode switchable dampers, which offer a firmer setting for track driving. A carefully tuned electric power-assisted steering system (EPAS) - working in combination with a more rigid front suspension knuckle design and shorter link arms - delivers connected and responsive steering with outstanding feel.

Projected to deliver well in excess of 320 PS, the power plant shares its fundamental structure with the all-aluminium four-cylinder 2.3-litre engine in the all-new Mustang. This engine has, however, 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 air flow, along with a much bigger intercooler to maximise charge density. Engine breathing also 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 optimise the balance of back pressure and noise output.

Ford engineers also worked closely with Michelin to develop a choice of high-performance 235/35 R19 tyres to complement the driving dynamics of the Focus RS - a standard Pilot Super Sport tyre for daily use and — for the first time on an RS — an optional Pilot Sport Cup 2 tyre for enhanced vehicle dynamics on the track.