Ford Focus RS Revealed with 315+ HP, All-Wheel Drive
New kid on the block eyes up WRX STI and Golf R.
Via live stream from Cologne, Germany, Ford confirmed more details of the Ford Focus RS that's coming in 2016. Although this is now the third iteration of the rally-famous hot-hatch, it will be the first time that the Ford Focus RS will be produced as a global vehicle available in the United States. If the Volkswagen Golf R and Subaru WRX STI know what's good for them, they'd do well to batten down the hatches and prepare for a showdown.
Power will come from a variation of the 2.3-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder engine seen in the 2015 Ford Mustang. Thanks to an improved twin-scroll turbocharger, a bigger intercooler, and upgraded cylinder heads, the engine will churn out "well in excess of 315 hp" with a redline of 6,800 rpm. Power is routed exclusively through a six-speed manual transmission to a new all-wheel-drive system, which can be adapted to other vehicle platforms. "No automatic transmission will be available at this time," said Ford Performance chief engineer Jamal Hameedi. "You're welcome," he added.
The new all-wheel-drive unit uses an electronically controlled twin-clutch system fitted to the rear axle, which can divert up to 70 percent of available torque to the rear wheels. All of that torque can be selectively transmitted side-to-side to each wheel. During low-stress driving the RS will function as a front-wheel-drive vehicle for efficiency's sake, but any sense of slip will activate the all-wheel-drive mechanics. There is also a brake-based vectoring system for serious at-the-limit conditions, which should certainly be thrilling given that the Focus RS will be capable of lateral acceleration exceeding 1g.
Other upgrades include Brembo brakes; a sports suspension with improved spring rates, bushings, and anti-roll bars; Michelin Pilot Sport 235/35 R19 tires fitted to multi-spoke 19-inch aluminum wheels, and Recaro seats.
0-60-mph times, top speed, and weight figures are not yet available, but we're expecting big things. Ford is not fooling around when it says it wants to take down the Volkswagen Golf R and Subaru WRX STI, which both offer a compelling performance package. Hameedi has a lot of confidence in the new all-wheel-drive system, which he says makes the RS more engaging and fun to drive. Compared to the Golf R's Haldex unit, Hameedi prefers the Focus RS' reduced, if not eliminated understeer as a result of the new torque vectoring feature.
The last Ford Focus RS, introduced for the European market in 2009 for a period of two years, was revered for its monster power and fantastic handling. Ford hopes to push that performance envelope using a slew of performance upgrades ranging from powertrain, aerodynamic, and suspension improvements. While the existing Focus ST is indeed a fun and impressive vehicle in its own right, the RS is batting in a league above.
The Ford Focus RS will be produced on the same production line as the standard Focus and Focus ST in Saarlouis, Germany. It's expected that the Focus RS will be called upon for racing duty following customer deliveries beginning sometime in 2016, but no official announcements have been made yet. "It's an incredible platform for racing," said Hameedi. "Awesome cars always go racing."
So far there has been no talk of price or production volume, but all indications are that the Ford Focus RS is no longer being treated as a limited-production, low-volume outlier. Looking at the runaway success of the Focus ST and the overall push toward performance vehicles from the newly formed Ford Performance umbrella, Ford has high hopes for the Focus RS. We expect pricing to be competitive with the STI and Golf R, which start at $35,290 and $37,415, respectively.
Check out these first photos of the new Ford Focus RS, and be on the lookout for more updates from Ford. Ken Block was hired as a consultant for the car's development, so we can definitely look forward to some crazy handbrake-happy footage from the forthcoming documentary series on the making of the new RS.