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Driven: Ford farewells Focus RS with Limited Edition

Blue note: The ballistic Focus RS Limited Edition will only be offered in the Nitrous blue premium paint with a black roof, mirror caps and rear spoiler.

Fearsome Focus RS Limited Edition marks the end of the line for Ford’s fastest hatch

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Ford logo21 Nov 2017

By TIM ROBSON

FORD Australia is gearing up to pull the pin on the fastest hatchback it has ever sold here, with the Focus RS set to end global production early next year.

The Focus RS, which is built in Ford Europe’s Saarlouis plant in Germany, has been a big success for Ford Australia since its introduction in July last year, with its initial run of approximately 600 cars selling out quickly.

Ford officials suggest that around a thousand Focus RSs have been sold locally since July 2016.

Ford has introduced a run of 500 Limited Edition Focus RS models to replace the standard RS and it is priced at $56,990 before on-roads, representing a $6000 premium over the standard RS.

While some dealer stock of standard RSs remains unsold, only Limited Editions will be imported from now until the end of production in early 2018.

“This is the last of this generation that will be available for sale through Ford,” according to Ford Australia communications and public affairs director Martin Gunsberg.

“This is a vehicle that is fantastic on the track, that enthusiasts love and that enthusiasts purchase, so we’ve made a great track car an even better track car with this particular pack,” he told GoAuto at the vehicle’s launch in Sydney this week.

Mr Gunsberg dismissed the suggestion that the loss of the RS would harm the brand’s new-found reputation for having a bit of spice in its line-up.

“It’s not uncommon for performance models to come in and out,” he said. “Next year is an amazing year for us. There are plenty of products coming to provide a bit of sizzle, across Ranger, the Mustang and the Endura at the end of next year.”

Ford Australia product communications manager Damion Smy said that while the standard RS was specced to keep prices down, the Limited Edition allowed Ford to pick key options from the Ford Europe catalogue.

“To keep the pricing simple, we didn’t offer some of the options that were available in Europe,” said Mr Smy. “Now with the Quaife diff and other options, we’ve made this pack, and that way we can offer something without the price running away, basically.”

Mr Gunsberg could not confirm whether the next-generation Focus – which is expected to be revealed in the second half in 2018 – will have an RS version, but he reiterated the company’s commitment to performance cars.

“We don’t have any news on new Focus to share today,” he said, “but we are a brand that is known for driving dynamics, and is known for enthusiast products.

We’ve got the ST range, the Mustang with a new model coming next year.

“With those ‘hi-po’ models like the RS, like we did with the previous generation, you’ve seen them come through, and go out again. I can’t comment on what the future may bring, but it’s certainly a vehicle that we know Australians love, and we love having it here.”

All 500 examples of the Focus RS will be finished in the brand’s Nitrous blue premium paint with a model-exclusive black roof, mirror caps and rear spoiler.

Tinted rear glass and black forged alloy 19-inch rims complete the exterior do-over, which is complemented by additional mechanical upgrades.

The RS scores a bespoke helical-gear limited slip front diff from UK transmission specialist Quaife, as well as high-performance Michelin Sport Cup 2 tyres and automatic emergency braking.

The all-wheel-drive RS’s 257kW/440Nm 2.3-litre four-cylinder turbocharged EcoBoost engine remains unchanged, along with its six-speed manual gearbox, RevoKnuckle-equipped MacPherson strut system, Tenneco adaptive dampers and Twinster rear dual-clutch torque vectoring system.

Inside, the Focus RS Limited Edition is equipped with Ford’s Sync3 infotainment system that offers Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity, as well as Recaro front bucket seats that have been colour-coded blue to match the exterior.

It also has an 8.0-inch colour multimedia screen with Bluetooth, reversing camera, keyless entry, alarm, bi-Xenon lights and Ford’s programmable MyKey system, which allows the owner to program a key to deny access to functions like Drift and Track mode, and to lock on traction and stability control.

There are no options available for the RS Limited Edition.

The RS differs from Focus variants such as the ST under the skin, with extra rear shock tower bracing – used to improve the stiffness of the rear subframe – built into the car during its body-in-white phase.

It is based on the C1 platform that, thanks to its use under cars including the Volvo V40, offered engineers access to a transmission tunnel to allow the use of all-wheel drive.

It is expected that the next generation of Focus will also be based on the C1 platform, simplifying the case for a new version of the RS.

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