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Ford kicks off Focus RS production

3100 pre-orders for Ford’s Focus RS in Europe as anticipation builds Down Under

18 Jan 2016

FORD has confirmed that production of its ballistic Focus RS has commenced in Germany, with buyer interest in the hot hatch reaching fever pitch across Europe.

There is believed to be significant interest from the Australian public as well, but it is unclear how many keen buyers have put down their hard-earned cash for one Down Under.

The first examples of the RS have started rolling of Ford’s Saarlouis, Germany production line and Ford says that since it opened the European order books in September, it has registered more than 3100 orders, while about 250,000 have configured a Focus RS on the Ford consumer website.

When it hits Australian showrooms in the second quarter of the year, the RS will be priced from $50,990 plus on-road costs, placing it in similar territory to the all-wheel drive Volkswagen Golf R hatch that retails from $52,740 in manual guise.

The RS falls under the car-maker’s recently formed Ford Performance banner, which will roll out 12 new models to 2020, including the RS, the Mustang pony car, ST versions of some models – rumoured to include the Mondeo – and the GT supercar.

Ford of Europe product development vice president Joe Bakaj talked up the capabilities of the Focus RS in what will be a bust year for the go-fast sub-brand.

“This will be a truly remarkable year for Ford performance cars, with unprecedented performance capability, as well as sophisticated powertrain and chassis technologies, including the new Ford Performance All Wheel Drive system for our Focus RS,” he said.

Ford says that it will produce about 41,000 performance cars for the European market this year, which represents a 40 per cent increase from 2015’s figure of 29,000 units.

The Focus RS will use a re-tuned version of its familiar 2.3-litre four-cylinder EcoBoost engine, delivering 257kW and 440Nm, matched with a six-speed manual gearbox and good for a 0-100km/h sprint time of 4.7 seconds, ensuring it is the fastest accelerating RS model built to date.

It will feature the Ford Performance all-wheel drive system and Dynamic Torque Vectoring “for a new level of handling, grip and cornering speed”.

The Blue Oval has released a video featuring professional race driver Ben Collins, who also played The Stig on BBC’s Top Gear, putting the RS through its paces and detailing the various drive modes available in the hatch.

Normal mode is for everyday city driving, while in Sport, Track or Drift mode, the suspension, steering, engine, exhaust and all-wheel drive system is adjusted for more performance-oriented driving.

Ford Performance’s other big model launch this year is the GT sportscar, but it will not be offered in Australia as it will be produced in left-hand-drive only.

The two-seater, mid-engined GT was penned by Hobart-raised Ford designer Todd Willing on special assignment to Detroit, before he returned to Ford Asia-Pacific Design in Melbourne as design director.

Ford also hinted in its release that the popular Fiesta ST would also get some attention in 2016, without offering any details.

“More than 30,000 Fiesta STs have now been sold across Europe, with more Fiesta ST news scheduled for later this year,” the release read.

Whether this means a special edition version of the plucky hatch, or the long-rumoured Fiesta RS is yet to be announced.

The Mustang also falls under the Ford Performance banner and the company said that the sixth-generation version was the best-selling sportscar in the world in 2015, “according to global IHS Automotive registration data”.

Ford Australia has already sold out its 2016 allocation of 4000 Mustang units.

The Mustang has its official media launch in New South Wales this week.

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