Ford previewed the all-new Ford Focus RS, a high-performance road car that debuts the innovative Ford Performance All-Wheel-Drive, delivering class-leading cornering speed, thrilling performance and unbridled driving enjoyment.
The Focus RS - equipped with a special 2.3-litre EcoBoost engine engineered to produce well in excess of 320 PS - 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.
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 Fords 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 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 with its radical aerodynamics, and the four-wheel-drive 1992 Escort RS Cosworth.
Sporting a dramatic exterior design that delivers enhanced aerodynamics and cooling, the new Focus RS offers technologies new to the RS marque including Ford SYNC connectivity system.
The all-new Focus RS is the first ever RS model that will be sold around the world and will be produced for all markets at Ford's Saarlouis, Germany, manufacturing plant beginning late this year.
"The new Focus RS represents Ford at its passionate best - delivering innovation, unmatched driving dynamics and stunning performance that was previously the sole province of high-priced performance luxury marques and exotics," said Jim Farley, president, Ford of Europe, Middle East and Africa. "We are acutely aware of the benchmarks we have set ourselves with RS performance models through the years, and rest assured that this new car raises the game to a new level.
"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."
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 - the city where the RS legend was born in 1968 with the Ford 15M RS.
Innovative Ford Performance All-Wheel-Drive offers unmatched handling
The all-new Focus RS exploits the 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 unmatched agility and cornering speed.
The Ford Performance AWD 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.
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 per cent of the drive torque can be diverted to the rear axle. Up to 100 per cent of the 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 class-leading 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; the Focus RS delivers the ultimate fun-to-drive experience.
"This AWD system is a breakthrough technology, capable of delivering supreme cornering and handling at the limit," said Dave Pericak, director, Global Ford Performance. "We have ripped up the rulebook which says that AWD hatchbacks cannot be fun to drive, and have created a car which will surprise and reward in equal measure."
To deliver optimum driving dynamics, the Ford Performance AWD 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, 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, 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 EPAS system, and the RS raises the bar. We set out to provide keen drivers with steering which is very direct, precise and well balanced - and the RS delivers," Pericak added.
Ford engineers 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 every-day use; and - for the first time on an RS - an optional Pilot Sport Cup 2 tyre for enhanced vehicle dynamics on the track.
The vehicle's exterior design has also been developed to support the dynamic objectives. Careful aerodynamic optimisation of the front splitter, rear spoiler and underbody features eliminates lift forces, and the final design delivers a 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 the Focus RS and nearly every new Ford vehicle. The specially engineered 2.3-litre EcoBoost engine has levels of power and torque that translate into impressive acceleration when combined with the exceptional AWD traction.
Projected to deliver well in excess of 320 PS, the bespoke unit 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.
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 - the biggest ever fitted to a Focus - that provides the level of cooling demanded for hard circuit use.
Meticulous calibration work has ensured 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.
Inspiring performance demands an inspiring soundtrack. Ford Performance engineers have tuned the RS to deliver a rewarding and sporty sound character during spirited driving, with the distinctive burbles, pops and crackles that are a RS signature.
"This very special 2.3-litre EcoBoost unit will inspire drivers as they feel the surge of the turbo, and reward them as they take it to the red line - all delivered with a stirring sound guaranteed to put a smile on your face," Pericak said.
The six-speed manual transmission has been optimised 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 and advanced turbocharging, the engine also delivers significantly improved fuel consumption. With Auto-Start-Stop fitted as standard, preliminary figures indicate that CO2 emissions will be significantly reduced compared with the previous model.
High-performance design for stunning looks with optimum function
The 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.
"This is the ultimate Focus - stunning to look at, and entirely fit for purpose," said Joel Piaskowski, director, Design, Ford of Europe. "RS models have always been striking, high-performance cars where function is paramount. This new Focus RS is true to that heritage."
Based on the new Focus, the RS features a powerful new front-end appearance with a bold upper trapezoidal grille above the deep front splitter, incorporating the largest possible apertures for engine cooling. A wide, muscular stance is emphasised by the lower wings and large outboard openings on each side of the car, which feed the brake cooling ducts and house vertically-mounted fog lamps.
At the rear, the fascia panel is dominated by the exceptionally large diffuser, which optimises air flow from under the vehicle to reduce drag, and contains the twin round high-performance exhaust outlets and, in Europe and Asia, a clear central fog lamp. The distinctive rear roof spoiler is carefully integrated with the car's silhouette through body-coloured side panels featuring a subtle embossed RS logo.
The dynamic side-profile is emphasised 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 with weight savings of 1 kg per wheel.
Standard Bi-Xenon HID headlamps offer Adaptive Front Lighting, which adjusts the intensity and angle of the headlamp beams according to vehicle speed, steering angle and distance to objects for optimal illumination. Customers also can specify the latest Active City Stop automatic braking technology which operates at speeds of up to 50 km/h (31 mph).
The high-performance character of the RS is reflected inside the car with heavily-bolstered partial-leather Recaro sports seats as the centrepiece of the cockpit. Signature RS Recaro shell seats, with authentic motorsport microfibre fabric panels, are an option for customers in Europe and Asia.
The interior features the redesigned 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 colour touchscreen. Simple voice commands such as "Find a race track" enable RS owners to get instant directions to the nearest public circuit. SYNC also 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 foot pedals, and unique instrument graphics within the main cluster. An additional bank of gauges above the centre console display turbocharger boost pressure, oil temperature and oil pressure.
Throughout the cabin, the distinctive blue RS theme is echoed through stitching on the seats, steering wheel, floor mats and interior trim, the coloured graphic on the gear shifter, and via the RS logo itself, which is proudly displayed on the seats, steering wheel and door scuff plates.
Four striking exterior colours include Nitrous Blue, a vibrant four-coat metallic finish exclusive to the RS, as well as Stealth Grey, Absolute Black and Frozen White. The car revealed in Cologne features the same special Liquid Blue colour 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 RS marque 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 the company's success in "Rallye Sport," the first RS models established a reputation for advanced technology and driving exhilaration that continues to this day.
"The all-new Focus RS is true to the core RS principles of innovative engineering and high performance. Driving enthusiasts have always aspired to own RS vehicles, and this is a heritage that inspires everyone within Ford," said Joe Bakaj, vice president, Product Development, Ford of Europe.
Through the years, RS models have consistently pioneered innovative performance technologies, from powerful naturally-aspirated and turbocharged powertrains and sophisticated aerodynamic aids to advanced front-wheel-drive and all-wheel-drive drivelines.
Vehicles that pioneered AWD technology include the exotic 1984 mid-engined RS200 destined for Group B rallying, the 1990 Sierra RS Cosworth 4x4, the spectacular Escort RS Cosworth and the 1994 Escort RS2000 4x4.Â