While US enthusiasts must make do with a Ford Focus that's three generations behind its European counterpart, they must now also forego the latest RS version of the all-new Europe-only Focus RS!
An early prototype of the fastest Focus road car to date is now undergoing performance and durability testing at the challenging Nrburgring Circuit in Germany, in preparation for its 2009 launch.
The principal architect of the Focus RS project is Ford of Europe's Vehicle Line Director for Performance Vehicles, Jost Capito, whose Team RS development group were responsible for the first generation Focus RS in 2002, and more recently, the Fiesta ST and the new Focus ST.
Capito said: "The new Focus RS is as much a car for driving enthusiasts as the one before it and classic Ford RS models of the past. We're staying true to the core RS principles of a no-compromise, affordable high performance road car you can live with. The new Focus RS will have the muscle, heart and soul of a genuine RS and will be exciting to drive every day."
The all-new Focus RS features a specially developed, turbocharged version of the Duratec 2.5-litre engine, based on Focus ST and Volvo S40, but significantly revised to generate over 280hp and more than 295 lb-ft of torque, thus achieving an excellent power-to-weight ratio.
Various chassis innovations, developed in conjunction with Ford's Advanced Engineering Centre in Aachen, germany are being tuned for the new car by the Cologne-based Ford Team RS. Their objective is to achieve optimized driving dynamics and on road performance through an advanced front-wheel drive system, combined with a limited-slip differential.
"In early prototypes based on Focus ST vehicles, the new system is more than meeting our targets for exceptional levels of traction, handling and steering," Capito added. "Given that the enthusiastic team behind the car are all performance vehicle enthusiasts, you can imagine that our standards are high."The standard Ford Focus is an excellent base for a high performance car - agile, responsive and stable. While the latest European Focus ST has already proved this to be the case, the new RS will take these qualities to the next level, benefiting from extensive knowledge gained through the Company's highly successful Motorsport programs, notably with the Focus World Rally Car."We have no doubt that we can enhance the acclaimed qualities of the already excellent Focus for an even higher performance model than the ST," Capito added. "Now, we are going through the rigorous job of proving out our technical approach in extensive testing and tuning over a variety of roads including the most demanding track in the world, the "Green Hell" that is the Nrburgring Nordschleife!"
"With two consecutive Manufacturers' World Rally Championship titles, we have the knowledge and the experience. The time is right for Ford to deliver a new high performance model for the legions of loyal Ford RS customers around Europe," Capito concluded. The new Focus RS test and development program is now well underway and will continue for several months, prior to the vehicle being readied for production in early 2009.
Although the internet and car magazines around the globe have continued to offer their opinions as to how the new car will look and drive, customers will get the first look at a production-intent vehicle with its world premiere at the London Motor Show in late July.
Further technical details of the all-new Focus RS will be released closer to launch.