Another vehicle US performance enthusiasts will almost certainly never get to drive is the iconic Ford Focus RS. Yet European drivers are about to enjoy the arrival of the second-generation of this powerful, dynamic FWD hot hatchback.Boasting 300hp, a Quaife Automatic Torque Biasing limited-slip differential and innovative `RevoKnuckle' for assured handling and traction, the Focus RS promises to live up to the legend.
The new Focus RS will go on sale in early 2009 and has been created by a small team of dedicated engineers, under the direction of Jost Capito, Ford of Europe's Vehicle Line Director for Performance Vehicles.
We previewed its arrival in an earlier news story at www.eurotuner.com And for European performance enthusiasts, the new model marks a welcome return for the Ford RS badge. This is the second Focus to carry the RS mantle and promises another exciting chapter in an exciting 40-year history that began in Germany in the late 1960s and gained momentum across Europe with the launch of the 1970 Escort RS1600.
"We want the new Focus RS to be a serious high performance car - as much a car for driving enthusiasts as the one before it and classic Ford RS models of the past." Capito said. "We're staying true to the core RS principles of an exciting, yet affordable performance road car you can live with every day."
Before it even turns a wheel, the new Focus RS exudes the presence, style and mean appearance expected of a genuine Ford RS. Overt performance styling details mix with subtle revisions to create a planted, powerful stance and the promise of an exciting drive.
The vehicle in the photos is finished in a special bright green paint with metallic flake, a striking interpretation of the 1970s Le Mans Green of Europe's Ford Escort RS1600 era.
The vibrant exterior color is contrasted with a number of performance styling details highlighted in gloss `piano black', including the strip at the leading edge of the hood, the deep housings for the front foglamps and door mirrors with integrated indicators.
Front and rear quarter panels have been revised to incorporate wider wheel arches and a wider track, complemented by deeper side skirts. In another visual reminder of the car's performance potential, triangular, RS-badged vents sit behind the front wheel arches. Two classic-style hood louvers are both a styling hint at the power beneath and a practical requirement, maintaining underhood temperatures.
The new front bumper design incorporates a deep front air dam with a large, lower mesh grille in an extended trapezoid. Stylish and practical, this prominent feature represents the latest Ford 'kinetic design' face and also is in piano black. Above, chromed xenon headlamps are framed by matte-black housings with unique vents running underneath. At the rear, a deep rear bumper incorporates a large venturi tunnel to its lower edge, with small vents at each corner of the bumper. Two chromed exhaust tailpipes sit either side of the venturi, creating a purposeful rear view.Above it, a twin-element, black RS spoiler sits at the roofline, echoing both RS models of the past and the World Rally-winning Focus WRC that has been its inspiration.
"We believe it's vitally important this car looks like both a Focus and an RS - it needs to be individual, distinctive and overt in its performance styling, but also needs to show a clear progression from the Focus ST", said Stefan Lamm, Chief Exterior Designer, Ford of Europe.
High performance interiorInside, this theme continues, dominated by bespoke, sculpted Recaro sports seats. Each is color-matched to the exterior, with ebony leather accents plus `RS' and `Recaro' logos stitched into each backrest.
Elsewhere, color brings new excitement to the Focus interior, building on the sporty interior theme of Focus ST with more use of accents matched to the exterior color, brushed aluminum highlights and overt performance styling. Even the rear seats feature higher side bolsters and a microfibre finish to echo the front seats.
The centre console is finished in gloss, carbon-look trim and metallic highlights abound, from air vents, door grab handles, switchgear and gearshift surround, to unique RS-branded scuff plates on the door sills. These highlights contrast with a black-trimmed headliner.
The driver is reminded this is a special Focus at every touch, with a sporty, three-spoke steering wheel, finished with `Ford' and `RS' logos, and even aluminum foot pedals.
The performance driving environment is completed by three additional gauges from the Focus ST, including turbo pressure, sitting atop the centre console.At the heart of the all-new Focus RS is a specially developed, turbocharged version of the Duratec 2.5 liter five cylinder engine. Significantly revised for performance, the powerplant has an impressive 300hp, contributing to an excellent power-to-weight ratio.
Such significant increases are not simply the result of altering engine management or boost pressure: starting with the 2.5 liter block, Ford RS engineers developed unique camshafts, a revised cylinder head and gasket and revised intake and exhaust manifolds for the car.
Although the car is still in development, prior to its launch in early 2009, performance testing indicates 0-62mph in less than 6sec.
Throughout the car's development, Capito and his team kept a sharp focus on creating a car that delivers excellent performance and traction. Various innovations, developed as a result of customer feedback from previous performance Fords, have allowed engineers to keep the new Focus RS as front-wheel drive, with a limited-slip differential, while still achieving demanding targets for traction, handling and steering.
The new Ford Focus RS is equipped with an innovative front suspension system known as a `RevoKnuckle', which is designed to reduce unwanted steering disturbance and torque steer. Torque steer occurs during hard acceleration, cornering or when driving on uneven surfaces as torque to the driven wheels exceeds grips levels. It's characterized by sudden turning force on the steering wheel and can be exacerbated by vehicles with wide tires and limited-slip differentials.
In the Focus RS, the RevoKnuckle works in conjunction with a Quaife Automatic Torque Biasing limited-slip differential. Ford Team RS engineers worked closely with Ford's Advanced Research Centre in Aachen, Germany to develop the RevoKnuckle technology specifically for the high Focus RS. It allows the simplicity of a traditional McPherson strut arrangement, but with geometry settings that minimize steering disturbances and torque steer, principally a reduction in steering offset.
"As you would expect, we gave all-wheel-drive careful consideration, but by combining and tuning these elements and learning from Ford's expertise in industry-leading handling, we have managed to eliminate the weight of AWD and still be able to target a class-leading balance of traction, handling and performance," explained Capito.
Driving developments for Focus RS include a 40mm wider track, stronger, longer driveshafts, revised springs and dampers and a thicker, longer rear anti-roll bar. At the same time, the steering system has been retuned to provide even sharper steering response and precise feedback.
Brakes have been uprated, with 336mm ventilated front discs and 300mm rear discs. Large calipers peek out from behind unique 19" wheels, wrapped in 235/35 Continental tires.
A special version of Ford's ESP system has also been developed for Focus RS, designed to allow a sporty driving style before activating. Intensive work to refine the natural handling abilities of the car has allowed the ESP system to carry a full de-activation option for enthusiast drivers and especially for track use.
In creating the new Focus RS, Ford's engineers have had to meet the same stringent targets for durability and reliability as those set for the rest of the Focus range. Despite its many bespoke engineering and styling elements, Focus RS will be built entirely on the main Focus production line in Saarlouis, Germany and offered with a standard Ford of Europe warranty.
The new Focus RS represents a significant moment in the heritage of both the Focus and Ford RS brands. It is 10 years since the Ford Focus was first revealed to the world at the Geneva Motor Show in 1998, paving the way for a range of Ford vehicles whose exciting design was matched by class-leading driving quality. Since this time, more than 5.3 million Ford Focus models have been built in Europe, including Russia, with the car also built and sold in North America and Asia.
At the same time, the new Focus RS marks the return of the famous but rare Ford RS badge, last seen on the first-generation Focus RS in 2002 and with a distinguished heritage stretching back 38 years including Fiesta, Escort and Sierra models.
"RS is uniquely important to us in terms of our performance heritage and World Rally Championship success, while the Focus has played a major part in establishing Ford's excellent reputation for driving dynamics," said John Fleming, Ford of Europe President and CEO. "The all-new Focus RS will embrace and celebrate both of these - it will be a genuine RS and a genuine Focus and I'm confident it won't disappoint in either area".
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