News: 2016 Focus RS

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Ford reveals the 320-plus-horsepower, all-wheel-drive Focus RS to the world

By Steve Turner
Photos courtesy of Ford Motor Company

Today in Cologne, Germany, Ford introduced an all-new Focus RS. After taking a few years off from the RS brand, the Blue Oval came back strong, delivering a 320-horsepower, all-wheel-drive machine that will be available worldwide, including North America.

A definite looker, the new Focus RS features bodywork designed to improve downforce and supply the necessary cooling to the powertrain and braking systems.
A definite looker, the new Focus RS features bodywork designed to improve downforce and supply the necessary cooling to the powertrain and braking systems.

Ford officials took the stage alongside Gymkhana and World Rallycross superstar Ken Block, who served as a consultant on the development of the vehicle.

“I’ve worked with the team tuning the new Focus RS, driving on test tracks in Detroit, Belgium and Cologne,” Ken said from the stage.

That can be nothing but good news for a new performance Focus, which carries the endorsement of Ford’s performance ambassador inside the company, Raj Nair, group vice president, Global Product Development, Ford Motor Company.

“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,” Raj said. “The RS line has a proud history of technical breakthroughs that have migrated to mainstream Ford vehicles 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.”

The heart of the RS is the EcoBoost 2.3-liter engine, but this isn’t just your EcoBoost Mustang powerplant.

“The Focus RS will also have an exclusive version of our EcoBoost engine, producing more than 320 horsepower,” Raj told the audience at the reveal. You can re-live the event right here:

This engine is built for more power and to withstand the heat associated with the kind of driving this car will see. The block is fitted with special high-tensile, cast-iron sleeves, the head gaskets are more rugged, and the cylinder heads even have a unique alloy. Plus, it is boost by a low-inertia twin-scroll turbocharger that is a bit larger than the Mustang’s snail (and that turbo might just bolt onto the Mustang). Even the intake is revised for better airflow.

The rear fascia wears a huge diffuser designed to optimize under-vehicle airflow. It shrouds the two round exhaust outlets. The European and Asian Focus RS will also feature a clear central fog lamp. That rear spoiler, with its embossed RS logos, lets you know this is now everyday Focus.
The rear fascia wears a huge diffuser designed to optimize under-vehicle airflow. It shrouds the two round exhaust outlets. The European and Asian Focus RS will also feature a clear central fog lamp. That rear spoiler, with its embossed RS logos, lets you know this is not an everyday Focus.

With its six-speed-manual trans, you can rev the new RS to a 6,800 rpm. The 2.3-liter EcoBoost engine is said to have great midrange grunt and a glistening top-end up to that limit.

“We are acutely aware of the benchmarks we have set ourselves with RS performance models through the years, and rest assured this new car raises the game to a new level,” said Jim Farley, president, Ford of Europe, Middle East and Africa. “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.”

All-wheel drive is one such innovation. The new Focus RS is the first performance Ford to feature AWD, and its system is quite impressive. Using Dynamic Torque Vectoring Control, the system uses two electronically controlled clutch packs that work with the Rear Drive Unit to act like a limited slip differential. Using input from various sensors, the system continually alters the torque distribution side to side. It can send up to 70 percent of the 320-plus lb-ft torque to the rear axle. This system can send 100 percent of the output to one side of the car.

Along the side, the RS wears sculptured rocker panels, and flares shrouding the RS-specific, multi-spoke, 19-inch wheels. These wheels are lightweight, forged units painted in low-gloss black. While the show car took the stage wearing the same Liquid Blue as the Ford Performance rides at NAIAS, the production Focus RS will be available in four colors, including Stealth Gray, Absolute Black, Frozen White, and an RS-specific hue, Nitrous Blue.
Along the side, the RS wears sculptured rocker panels, and flares shrouding the RS-specific, multi-spoke, 19-inch wheels wearing standard Michelin Pilot Super Sport 235/35 tires. These wheels are lightweight, forged units painted in low-gloss black. While the show car took the stage wearing the same Liquid Blue as the Ford Performance rides at NAIAS, the production Focus RS will be available in four colors, including Stealth Gray, Absolute Black, Frozen White, and an RS-specific hue, Nitrous Blue.

When you turn the system feeds torque to that outside wheel, this application of power can really aid turn-in as it pushes the car through the turn.

The system is said to deliver lateral acceleration in excess of 1g, thanks in part to its optional Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires. Despite that grip, it still allows for controlled oversteer.

That means you can drift it, as shown by Ken Block’s hooning antics inside the Cologne plant:

“This AWD system is a breakthrough technology, capable of delivering supreme cornering and handling at the limit,” Dave Pericak, director, Global Ford Performance, said. “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.”

Inside, the RS features a flat-bottom steering wheel, Recaro seats and a unique instrument cluster. In addition to the traditional gauges, that cluster delivers information on boost, oil temp, and oil pressure. The control layouts reworked, and you can opt for things like Sync, a rear-view camera, and a Sony premium audio system with 10 speakers.
Inside, the RS features a flat-bottom steering wheel, Recaro seats and a unique instrument cluster. In addition to the traditional gauges, that cluster delivers information on boost, oil temp, and oil pressure. You can opt for things like Sync, a rear-view camera, and a Sony premium audio system with 10 speakers.

To maximize those capabilities, even the steering system was tuned for more performance. It features a rigid front knuckle and shorter linkage to improve steering feel, and the Electric Power Assist Steering is calibrated for the new arrangement.

“The Focus ST and Fiesta ST showed that we can achieve sporty steering feel with an electric power-assisted steering system, and the RS raises the bar,” Dave added. “We set out to provide drivers with steering that is very direct, precise and well balanced—and the RS delivers.”

If you want one to deliver for you, the pricing of the new Focus RS is rumored to start around £30,000. Official pricing has not been announced, but if the conversion holds true it would sell for around $45,000 in the States.

The full details about the new Focus RS will be revealed at the Geneva Motor Show held March 5-15. We can hardly wait for more on the RS, but for now this video should tide you over…

The Focus RS features a unique front fascia fitted with lower wings and large openings that feed air to the brakes.
The Focus RS features a unique front fascia fitted with lower wings and large openings that feed air to the brakes.
Knowing that the Focus RS will be driven in anger, cooling was a primary concern. Ford engineers fitted the third-gen RS with the largest radiator ever installed in a Focus. The car also features an intercooler larger than the unit fitted in the Focus ST.
Knowing that the Focus RS will be driven in anger, cooling was a primary concern. Ford engineers fitted the third-gen RS with the largest radiator ever installed in a Focus. The car also features an intercooler larger than the unit fitted in the Focus ST.

Focus RS Gallery

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18 thoughts on “News: 2016 Focus RS”

  1. A new STi starts out at $34,500… If they are more than $1,500 higher than that then the car will have to be a whole lot better to justify the difference Vs a proven platform.

  2. ….growing tired of Ford and their non-specific power ratings lately…..getting OLD! The car looks pretty good – not near as menacing as the last generation IMO. That said, I hope it MOVES out and comes out with a base price WELL UNDER $45k.

  3. QUOTE

    .growing tired of Ford and their non-specific power ratings lately..getting OLD!  The car looks pretty good - not near as menacing as the last generation IMO.  That said, I hope it MOVES out and comes out with a base price WELL UNDER $45k.

    I am guessing $32-$35K. Hoping for less. Maybe start at $30K US? I am sure that is just a wish… Thing is with the Focus, they have a lot of available equipment. You can option them pretty much any way you want.

  4. I will have one of these bad boy’s in my drive way within the next couple of years for sure! Been waiting forever for ford to put out an AWD hatch like the Subaru!

  5. No worries, Jeff. Thanks for the kind words. I didn’t mean to cause controversy, but that does stir talk. I was really doing the math to see if it was out of my range.

    As with most hot cars you will end up finding a deal after its initial release.

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