Recalling the legendary Ford Sierra Cosworth RS500 from the '80s is this new limited edition Focus RS model, again called the RS500. It's being launched as the ultimate performance Ford and will provide the definitive driving experience for serious performance car enthusiasts.
Making its global debut at the 2010 Leipzig Motor Show in Germany, the new model has been given the RS500 designation to highlight its strictly-limited production run of 500 individually-numbered vehicles. The new Focus RS500 features a muscular 350hp 2.5-liter five-cylinder engine, which generates 15% more power than the standard Focus RS and delivers exhilarating performance.
The RS500 also marks the end of production for the current generation Focus RS, with the last vehicles scheduled to leave Ford's Saarlouis Assembly Plant in Germany during September 2010.
While overwhelming customer demand has ensured that total Focus RS output is expected to exceed 11000 units (significantly more than the 7000-8000 originally forecast), production of the RS500 will start at Ford's Saarlouis plant in Germany during May and will be strictly limited to 500 customer vehicles for 20 European markets.
Each RS500 will carry a metal plaque on the centre console, hand-engraved with a unique identification number from 001-to-500. A small number of pre-production vehicles produced for internal Ford use - such as product development or press demonstrators - will have their own unique numbering scheme, to ensure the exclusivity of the 500 customer cars.
Demand for the RS500 is expected to exceed supply by a considerable margin, and the full production run of just 500 vehicles is being allocated across 20 European markets in line with the anticipated level of interest. For some countries, the very small number of vehicles allocated means the RS500 will, indeed, be a very exclusive purchase for its customers. Great Britain will get the lion share, with 101 cars destined for customers. To provide the RS500 with a fitting power unit, the 305hp turbocharged Duratec RS 2.5-liter engine from the standard Focus RS has been upgraded to deliver significantly more top-end and mid-range power, but without compromising the base engine's strength and responsiveness at lower revs.
Peak power is increased by 45hp to 350hp at 6000rpm, while torque has been increased from 325 to 340 lb-ft, delivered across a broad speed range from 2500 to 4500rpm. The engine has benefitted from a comprehensive package of enhancements aimed at improving the engine's breathing and combustion. These include a significantly larger air-to-air intercooler; a larger air filter box for increased airflow; larger diameter exhaust downpipe; and an uprated fuel pump, along with an updated software calibration to optimize the performance of the revised engine.
Preliminary performance figures for the Focus RS500 indicate that it achieves 0-62mph in 5.6 seconds, with a top speed similar to the 146mph of the standard RS.
The Focus RS500 engine was modified by a team from Ford TeamRS in partnership with Revolve Technologies - the engineering firm which develops Ford-approved performance upgrades through its Mountune brand.
The shared development and testing program ensured that the 350hp Duratec RS engine achieved the specified performance targets while also delivering the standards of durability and serviceability expected by Ford RS customers.
The comprehensive engineering details already developed for the 305hp Focus RS engine - including a revised head gasket, ultra-durable metal sprayed cylinder bores, revised pistons and new connecting rods -ensured no further mechanical changes were required to cope with the increased performance of the 350hp RS500 unit.
A key factor in the success of the latest generation Focus RS has been its advanced front-wheel-drive chassis, which combines a wider track, the unique 'RevoKnuckle' front suspension design and a Quaife helical limited-slip differential to deliver responsive steering, outstanding traction and a minimum of unwanted torque steer. The same chassis design remains in the Focus RS500, and the specification is unchanged for this application, helping to retain the same sporting and responsive dynamic character which is central to the appeal of the acclaimed standard Focus RS.
The high-performance braking system, and the 19" wheels and 235/35 R19 tires, are also carried over unchanged from the standard vehicle, although red brake calipers and a dramatic black finish for the wheels are unique to the RS500.
In recognition of the extreme performance potential of the Focus RS500, the limited edition model has been subjected to a series of concentrated durability tests, which have focused on the car's track capabilities. The development program included a dedicated endurance test at the infamous Nurburgring Nordschleife in Germany, where Ford TeamRS engineers were joined by three Ford-employed racing drivers working in shifts to complete 10,000km of non-stop driving, equivalent to competing in ten consecutive Nurburgring 24-hour races without a break.
"We wanted to be sure that serious enthusiasts could drive the Focus RS500 to the limit on track, without any concerns about the car's stamina," said Matthias Tonn, Focus RS500 chief program engineer. "This meant going beyond our standard test routines, and pushing the car to the edge of its performance envelope.
After 500 non-stop laps of the Nurburgring, we are very confident in its durability and delighted at the way it performed, with an 8-minute lap time within reach".
The standard Focus RS already creates a lasting impression with its functional yet striking design, but the unique matte black 'foil' paint finish of the Focus RS500 makes this limited edition car even more special. The matte black bodywork is combined with matching metallic black wheels, and the gloss black finish of the trapezoidal lower front grille and splitter, twin-blade rear spoiler and the rear venturi, which manages airflow beneath the rear of the car.
Small flashes of color around the vehicle - including the red brake calipers, blue RS badges, and the special blue and red RS500 badge on the tailgate -emphasize the car's unique appearance.
The matte black foil finish for the RS500 was developed in partnership with the technology company 3M, which specializes in advanced film products for the automotive industry.
All Focus RS500 vehicles will be painted in a standard Panther Black metallic color, before being shipped to a dedicated 3M facility near Frankfurt, Germany, where a special foil film will be applied to the bodywork to create the matte black effect.
The film is extremely durable, and is specifically designed to resist superficial marks and scratches in automotive applications. In the event of damage to the bodywork, Ford dealers will be fully supported by a Europe-wide network of 3M agents who can replace the film on the affected panels.
Attention to detail on the RS500 exterior is also reflected inside the car, with a series of special features which are unique to this limited edition model. The centre console is distinguished by the car's individually-numbered metal plaque, and by a unique carbon-effect finish to the bezel which carries a distinctive RS pattern.
In contrast to the blue detailing on the standard Focus RS, the RS500 features a special red color scheme, notably on the stitching of the leather trim on the steering wheel, door trim and gear lever gaiter, and on the floor mats. Customers also have the option of specifying the bespoke Recaro front sports seats in full red leather, to further enhance the visual impact.