The Focus FR200 is an extreme statement from the Blue Oval boys that proves the company's sport compact can be tuned for speed, style and hard-hitting performance. But is it too extreme? The car is a bold, unabashed, no-compromise effort to squeeze out the maximum possible performance from the platform. The staff at Turbo magazine is all for that. The advantages that Ford Racing has are a big budget, talented resources and most importantly, total access to all things Ford.
The FR200, a product development exercise, runs some components that have no chance to see production. This is most evident in the front suspension, where a prototype bolt-on double A-arm conversion package is utilized. The suspension is trick, but it results in a 4-inch increase in track width, which means a wide-body kit would be needed to make it all work in the real world. The fact that this suspension functioned so well on the track makes the situation more frustrating.
That aside, the real focus of the FR200 is performance options that have a chance to see the street by way of the Ford Racing parts catalog. Top on our list is turbo power. The FR200s we drove were boosted to 15 psi by an IHI RHF5HB ball-bearing turbo connected to a top-mount Spearco-based air-to-air intercooler. The system uses a Mustang Cobra mass air meter, prototype FR 70mm throttle body and a high-flow FR aluminum intake manifold. The intake tract has a reversion chamber after the mass air unit. During development, the transition from high-load to low-load caused fluctuations in the power curve and the chamber smoothed the flow. The Focus' single-line fuel system has put the whammy on a number of turbo kit makers. Ford Racing has the total access necessary to program a custom EEC-V engine management computer for the FR200. The unit increases the duty cycle of the fuel pump when extra juice is needed. Restrictions in the fuel system were eliminated and bigger injectors were installed. Ford Racing's chassis dyno tests returned 301.4 hp and 286.9 lbs-ft of torque. "Clearly, the horsepower numbers for our version of this car are extreme," said Dan Davis, director of Ford Racing Technology. "Going forward, our plan for going to market with parts would be to do something less extreme than this--perhaps in the 225 hp range. And we know that the chassis modifications are radical for many do-it-yourselfers, but we wanted to do something different to gauge the interest level in this kind of package. Right now, we don't know exactly how people will want to race the Focus. We know there's a lot of interest in drag racing the car, and the horsepower and chassis modifications will help with that. But, unlike the Mustang, we don't know the interest for road racing the car yet, so we want to determine that as we go on."
Ford Racing is currently considering a non-intercooled turbo kit complete with fuel strategies and 50-state smog legal status. Output is being considered and Ford Racing is looking at 200 to 225 hp. Intercooling may be an option, but running a top-mount would mean a new hood, so look for a front mount if Ford Racing does anything. The Zetec turbo engine sports an 8.0:1 compression ratio via forged pistons and a ported FR big-valve head. This cylinder head, which flexes 33mm intake valves and 29.8mm exhaust valves, is just what the power doctor ordered for the Focus; be it pressurized or naturally aspirated.
The driveline is not standard issue, as Ford Racing went to Europe to put the power down. The FR200 runs a Euro-spec gearbox stuffed with Ford Racing prototype gears and a 3.82:1 final drive ratio. The transmission spins FR prototype half shafts by way of a Torsen limited-slip differential. A custom Centerforce clutch package handles gear transitions.
On the suspension front, the aforementioned double A-arm set-up is joined by three-position adjustable coil-overs, anti-roll bars and Mustang Cobra brakes. The front brake assembly consists of 13-inch cross-drilled rotors and two-piston calipers. A spacer washer between the spindle and rotor, and a caliper mounting bracket are the keys to making this swap work. Needless to say, brakes made for a 3,560-pound. car are real go-getters in a 2,551-pound car.
The most striking aspect of the FR200 by far is its styling. Ford Racing asked Mustang FR500 designer Don Johnson of D.A. Johnson Design to create a distinctive look, highlighted by an "outrageous" rear spoiler that is the car's signature piece. The wide body kit on the FR200 uses Euro-spec taillights and is constructed from carbon fiber. The production version of the kit will keep the taillights in the stock U.S.-spec location and be made of less exotic materials.
The interior was one area we did not pay a lot of attention to. There is a wild JBL stereo system that brings 570 watts to bear on those in the FR200 cockpit. We did overhear that the 11-speaker extravaganza uses special lightweight woofers and that weight was a major concern when designing the system. On the track, we preferred the sound of the spooling turbo.
Our seat time in the FR200 was short, but it didn't take a lot of laps for the car to make an impression. Useable boost was on line at about 2,400 rpm and the 15 psi max was a quick blip of the throttle away. The suspension did an outstanding job in the corners as well as fending off torque steer when full boost hit. The FR200 conjured up images of Project Serious Sentra--it was responsive and pulled hard and long at full boost without complaint. The engine was tuned to a razor's edge, reacting quickly and without hesitation to even the most minute changes in throttle pressure. Our driving impressions were gleaned on the 2.5-mile road course at Willow Springs International Raceway and, while we didn't threaten any lap time records, we did push the car. Among the many big improvements, the first to hit us after the rush of boost was the steering. Our project Focus has a blatantly mushy feeling that would be a disappointment even to Explorer owners. The FR200's steering was tight and precise and we understand the Euro system can be swapped in, with the steering pump requiring special attention. The extra work would be worth it, as the result is nearly a miracle. The FR200 chassis provided plenty of feedback and really stayed planted once set into a corner...perhaps we should have gone after a record or two.
Ford Racing got our attention with the FR200, but the bottom line is, what will the company do with it. Is this car a teaser? How many products on the FR200 will make the Ford Racing catalog? What will they be? How watered down will they become in making the transition into production? In our books, the turbo kit, cylinder head, brake kit and steering upgrade are sure hits.
Ford Racing's Intense Focus is a No-Holds-Barred Performance Attack.
Air Filter Assembly Ford Racing prototype
air filter housing
Mass Air Sensor 1999 Cobra mass air sensor
Turbocharger IHI turbocharger
Intercooler Ford Racing prototype air charge cooler
Throttle Body Ford Racing prototype 70mm throttle body
Intake Manifold Ford Racing high-flow aluminum intake manifold
Cylinder Head Ford Racing 2.0L Zetec
high-flow cast aluminum cylinder head w/big valves--33mm intake, 29.8mm exhaust
Camshafts Stock 2.0L Zetec camshafts
Block Stock Zetec block
Displacement 2.0 liters
Compression Ratio 8.0:1
Crankshaft Stock 2.0L Zetec
Rods Stock 2.0L Zetec
Pistons Forged Aluminum
Horsepower 304 hp @ 6750 rpm
Torque 285 lb/ft @ 3500 rpm
Redline 7200 rpm
Electronic Engine Controls
EEC-V Unique calibration to accommodate
Ignition Stock 2.0L Zetec ignition system
Fuel Pump Modified
Injectors Ford Racing prototype 48 lb/hr injectors
Radiator Ford Racing prototype aluminum radiator
Fans Electric, one 14-inch, one 9-inch
Exhaust Manifold Ford Racing prototype stainless steel high-flow exhaust manifold
Exhaust Pipe 3-inch diameter stainless steel
Muffler One dual-mode stainless steel muffler
Tail Pipe 3-inch diameter stainless steel
Exhaust Tip Ford Racing prototype polished stainless steel
Flywheel Stock 2.0L Zetec flywheel
Clutch Centerforce prototype clutch disc and presure plate
Transmission European production MTX75 transmission case with Ford Racing prototype MTX75 transmission gears
Differential Torsen limited slip differential
Ring and Pinion 3.82:1 ring and pinion gears
Axles Ford Racing prototype half shafts
Rotors 1999 Cobra 13-inch front rotors,
vented and cross-drilled
Calipers 1999 Cobra, dual piston
Cooling Forced air, ducted from front fascia
Rotors 1999 Cobra 11.65-inch rotors,
vented and cross-drilled
Calipers 1999 Cobra, single piston
Suspension Ford Racing prototype double A-arm front suspension with
Ford Racing prototype
front wheel drive spindles
Shocks Ford Racing prototype three-way adjustable front coil-over shocks
Ride Height Lowered 1-inch from stock
Track Width Increased 4 inches from stock
Steering Modified European Focus rack and pinion power steering
Stabilizer Bar Ford Racing prototype 1.25-inch tubular front stabilizer bar assembly
Suspension Stock rear suspension
Shocks Ford Racing prototype
three-way adjustable rear
Ride Height Lowered 1-inch from stock
Track Width Increased 4-inches from stock
Stabilizer Bar Eibach 1-inch diameter rear stabilizer bar
Wheels and Tires
Front 18x8-inch Ford Racing prototype wheels
Rear 18x8-inch Ford Racing prototype wheels
Front Michelin Pilot Sport, 235/35ZR18
Rear Michelin Pilot Sport, 235/35ZR18
2000 Ford Focus with a Ford Racing wide body
treatment including all carbon-fiber hood, front fascia,
front fenders, rocker panels, rear quarter panels,
rear fascia and rear wing, European Focus
four-door tail lamps, FR200 badging and
unique DuPont silver paint.
Color, Trim, Instrumentation
Seating Ford Racing/Classic Soft Trim
two-tone sport leather upholstery
Steering Wheel Ford Racing prototype two-tone leather steering wheel
Gauges 180 mph speedometer, 8000 rpm
tachometer, boost, water temp and oil pressure
Tuner JBL TrafficPro Radio/CD/Navigation system
Speakers 11 strategically placed high performance JBL speakers
Amps Two four-channel pre-amp units
One eight-channel mobile amplifier
System Power 570 watts total power
Wheelbase 103.0 inches
Length 168.1 inches
Track, ft/rr 62.8-inch front/62.5-inch rear
Curb Weight 2780 lbs.
Weight Distribution 61%/39%
Horsepower 304 hp @ 6750 rpm
Torque 285 lb/ft torque @ 3500 rpm
0-60 mph 5.5 seconds (Ford est.)
Quarter Mile 13.5 seconds/108 mph (Ford est.)