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Geneva show: Ford’s Focus goes RS

Blue boy: Ford’s Focus RS is set to get 235kW-plus power and all-wheel drive in its third generation to be formally unveiled at the 2015 Geneva motor show.

'More than 235kW' promised for Ford’s most potent Focus RS due in Australia in 2016


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4 Feb 2015

FORD has confirmed its third-generation Focus RS will be propelled by a 2.3-litre EcoBoost engine with “well in excess of” 235kW of power, making it the hottest mass-produced Focus ever built.

Unlike previous front-wheel-drive iterations of Ford’s rally-bred hot hatch, the new model will get all-wheel drive with sophisticated controls to make maximum use of the turbocharged engine.

Due to for its public reveal at next month’s Geneva motor show, the Focus flagship will go into production at Ford’s Saarlouis plant in Germany later this year for global release, including Australia. The same plant also produces the Focus ST, the current Focus clubhouse performance leader with 184kW.

Ford Australia says it is too early to discuss launch timing and other details for the Australian rollout, but agrees that a 2016 showroom arrival is most likely, possibly in the first half.

The Australia arm of the Blue Oval brand sold all 315 of the hard-core Focus RS hatches that it was offered by the factory in the previous generation that went on sale here in September 2010.

That model was a three-door hatch with a Volvo-sourced 224kW five-cylinder engine, driving through the front wheels.

Ford has confirmed that the new model will be a five-door hatchback equipped with the most powerful version of its EcoBoost 2.3-litre four-cylinder engine.

This same engine produces 233kW in the recently introduced EcoBoost Mustang, but Ford’s engineers have tweaked it for slightly more power, saying it will be “well in excess of 315 horsepower” (235kW).

Ford says the “bespoke” engine has been specially engineered for the RS, being “significantly upgraded through a comprehensive package of design changes”.

“Meticulous calibration work has ensured that the power unit delivers excellent low-end responsiveness with a powerful mid-range pull, climbing to a free-revving top-end up to a maximum rev limit of 6800rpm,” it says.

An extra-large radiator has been applied to keep the engine cool, sitting behind an equally large, business-like black grille.

Importantly, the engineers have maintained one of the most alluring attractions of the previous RS – the signature snap, crackle and pop of the turbo engine sound.

Again, the RS will be equipped only with a six-speed manual gearbox, but both the transmission and the clutch have been reworked to handle the extra grunt.

All power, torque and performance figures are expected to be confirmed at the Geneva motor show on March 3.

While a lot of the Focus RS story remains under wraps, Ford has spelled out much of the detail surrounding its new all-wheel-drive system that promises “a new level of handling capability and driver enjoyment, combining outstanding traction and grip with unmatched agility and cornering speed”.

Called Ford Performance All-Wheel-Drive with Dynamic Torque Vectoring, the system uses twin electronically controlled clutches – one on each side of the rear drive unit – to manage both front/rear torque split and side-to-side delivery.

Ford says various sensors monitor the vehicle 100 times a second, delivering up to 70 per cent of the toque to the rear axle when required. As well, up to 100 per cent of the drive to the rear axle can be diverted to one wheel.

“During cornering, the rear drive unit pre-emptively diverts torque to the outer rear wheel immediately based on inputs such as steering wheel angle, lateral acceleration, yaw and speed,” it says.

“This torque transfer has the effect of ‘driving’ the car into the bend, achieving improved turn-in and stability, and virtually eliminating understeer.”

Ford says the result is “the ultimate fun-to-drive experience”, with class-leading cornering speed and acceleration out of a bend.

Ford Global Performance director Dave Pericak described the AWD system as “breakthrough technology”.

“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.”

Ford employed cult rally driver Ken Block to help with the development of the Focus RS, which Ford says will be just one of more than 12 Ford performance vehicles it is bringing to market between now and 2020.

Although the 235kW-plus RS is set to become the most potent four-cylinder Ford, it still lags behind the likes of Mercedes-Benz’s 265/450Nm A45 AMG.

And while Audi’s new RS3 Sportback has a five-cylinder engine, it packs 270kW and 465Nm.

Styling wise, the Focus RS will be hard to miss on the road, with a massive roof-mounted rear spoiler, big wheels and big-bore round exhaust pipes protruding from a black rear diffuser.

Headlights are bi-Xenon with adaptive control that adjusts to speed, cornering and other factors. LED driving lights appear to be fitted into the large front spoiler.

Inside, the front seats are Recaros with partial leather trim. Race-style seats are optional.

A flat-bottomed soft-leather steering wheel and alloy foot pedals are standard, along with a bank of racy gauges on the middle of the dash to display turbocharger boost pressure, oil temperature and oil pressure. The RS logo is everywhere.

While the RS is a hardcore sports hatch, comfort and convenience features include Ford’s voice-activated SYNC connectivity for audio, navigation, climate control and phone control, as well as a rear-view camera and Sony premium sound system with 10-speakers.

The RS will be available in four colours – Nitrous Blue, Stealth Grey, Absolute Black and Frozen White.

The cars was designed and engineered in Ford of Europe’s development centre in Cologne, Germany, with help from United States engineers in Dearborn.

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