We already know plenty about the Ford Focus RS hot-hatch, which will pack a 2.3-liter turbocharged engine with more than 315 hp, all-wheel drive, and a six-speed manual transmission. Now that the car has made its U.S. debut at the New York auto show, however, we had chance to learn a little bit more about why car enthusiasts should be excited for the RS.
1. Wheels that save pounds
The standard 19-inch wheels on the Ford Focus RS are painted a gray hue called “Magnetite,” but customers can pay to upgrade to black, forged 19-inch wheels that are 1.5 pounds lighter per wheel than the standard rolling stock. The wheels have gone through all the same testing as other Ford wheels, but both cut pounds and promote better cooling of the Brembo four-piston front calipers because the wheel spokes are skinnier. Another advantage to black wheels? “It hides brake dust pretty good,” says Ford Focus product marketing manager Omar Odeh. The cost for the forged wheels isn’t confirmed but it “won’t be exorbitant.”
2. Exclusive colors
To help it stand out from the crowd and due to manufacturing constraints — even American-market Focus RSs will be built in Germany — only four paint colors will be offered for the Ford Focus RS. The pale-blue seen here is called Nitrous Blue, and it’s an expensive four-stage paint that won’t be used on any other Ford product. Other color choices comprise Shadow Black, Stealth gray, and Frozen White. No matter what color buyers pick, the brake calipers will also be painted Nitrous Blue.
3. It doesn’t even lift
Creating downforce on a street car is tough, but the Ford Focus RS is claimed to have “zero lift” at speeds as high as 155 mph. The car’s front splitter, rear diffuser, and rear wing are all functional and, according to Odeh, keep the RS from producing aerodynamic lift at speed (the aero package does not generate positive downforce). That means the car doesn’t go “light” at speeds, improving driver confidence. The giant rear wing even has an aerofoil-like shape and a subtle gurney lip on its trailing edge.
4. Fixed steering ratio
The Ford Focus ST has a variable-ratio steering rack, meaning the steering gets quicker as you turn the wheel more, but the RS instead has a quick, fixed-ratio rack. It’s a small change, but Odeh says it was chosen because, “We found that with the all-wheel drive this gave a more connected feel.”
5. Plenty of tech
It may be meant for track days, but the Ford Focus RS still packs plenty of creature comforts. A heated steering wheel is packaged with heated seats, a moonroof is available, and the car even has standard stop-start, making it the only ST or RS product in the U.S. with engine start stop. That should help save some gas — at least until you romp on the throttle when the light turns green.
6. Pick your tire
The aforementioned wheel choice also results in different tires. The RS comes as standard with Michelin Pilot Super Sport tires, but upgrading to the forged wheels brings even sticker Michelin Pilot Cup 2 rubber.