New Ford Focus RS - Global Reveal (FULL):
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New Ford Focus RS wings in with sub-£30k price tag - 2.3-litre EcoBoost turbo engine delivers 318bhp via 4WD
Ford is on a performance car offensive. Not content with wowing the world with its latest Ferrari-baiting GT supercar at the Detroit Motor Show, the company has now revealed the car all fast Ford fans have been crying out for: the new Ford Focus RS. It’s broken with tradition by fitting this 318bhp hot hatch with four-wheel drive – and Auto Express was granted early access to the car ahead of its Geneva Motor Show debut in March 2015.
The latest model to wear the fabled RS badge goes on sale early next year, and follows a long line of affordable but seriously high-performance Fords – a dynasty that started back in 1968 with the 15M RS and brought us legends like the Escort RS1600, Sierra RS Cosworth, Escort RS Cosworth and two Focus RS models before this. When it goes on sale next year, the newcomer will cost less than £30,000 and deliver performance to rival the most formidable heavyweight hot hatches on the market.
Ford Focus RS 2015 gets all-wheel-drive
Bowing to pressure from key rivals like the Audi RS3 and Mercedes A 45 AMG, Ford’s Performance division has fitted a sophisticated four-wheel-drive system to give optimum traction. There’s another reason, too: the previous RS’s clever RevoKnuckle suspension design – which allowed up to 350bhp to be channelled through the front wheels – added as much as 20kg to the car’s overall weight. And it’s understood the four-wheel drive doesn’t add much more.
The new RS’s system also features Dynamic Torque Vectoring that continually juggles torque between the front and rear axles to maximise grip – and that’s on top of firmer sports suspension and switchable dampers. Ford says its system is so clever, understeer is virtually eliminated, controlled oversteer drifts on the track are easily manageable and lateral acceleration exceeds 1g.
Ford Focus RS: 2.3 Ecoboost turbo engine
Under the standard Focus bonnet lies a 2.3-litre EcoBoost engine, which will be shared with this year’s Mustang. But, unlike the US muscle car, the hatch gets a twin-scroll turbo with a larger compressor for better airflow, as well as a larger intercooler. And we’re assured those sawn-off twin exhausts will emit deep-throated gargles, pops and crackles.
Ford says power is around 318bhp – that’s 44bhp less than the 2.5-litre five-cylinder delivers in the RS3 but there could be the potential to up power in future with a limited-run model. The 2.3-litre EcoBoost ‘red lines’ at 6,800rpm, CO2 emissions are down 20 per cent on the old RS’s Volvo-derived 2.5 five-cylinder and a six-speed manual box is standard.
New Ford Focus RS: colours and equipment
UK dealers shifted nearly 4,600 examples of the previous RS between 2009 and 2011, and Ford has similarly high hopes with this Mk3. Prices will dip under the £30k barrier for the standard car, which will come with 19-inch alloys, Brembo brakes, Recaro sports seats and a range of sporty design touches; sat-nav and Recaro bucket seats will be optional, as will semi-slick track tyres.
Ford has confirmed that the Liquid Blue colour on the car in our pictures is only for the show model, but it’s promising a new Nitrous Blue paint will be similar. Stealth Grey, Absolute Black and Frozen White will also appear, but the last RS’s Ultimate Green finish has been dropped.
2015 Focus RS: on sale globally
On the outside, it’s clear to see the RS is a serious piece of kit. The flared nose and rear spoiler hint at supercar-beating performance, but it’s a more restrained look overall than its predecessor. And for that you have One Ford to blame – or thank, depending on your viewpoint.
This Focus RS will be the first to be available all around the world, rather than sold only in certain markets. Not surprisingly, the image of previous models – with their big wings, large wheels and gaping air scoops – doesn’t translate that well internationally. But with a five-door body from the humdrum Focus, the new RS is more reserved than the previous model from six years ago.
Ford Focus RS: aggresive design
“We were told by the marketing department that we had to tone down the styling,” explained Ernesto Rupar, Ford of Europe’s supervisor for exterior design. “It was felt the old RS’s look would be over the top for this new car. Everything you see on the new RS has been added for a purpose; there’s nothing unnecessary.
“We went through around five designs to get to this – one of the designs had air vents on the bonnet, but they had no real purpose so they went.”
The Focus’ five-door layout has also prevented the use of a rally car-like wide body – a look that was so distinctive on the Focus RS Mk2. “We would have to have changed the door pressings to give it a wide body look, and that just wasn’t on the agenda,” said Rupar. “So, with no wide body, we had to concentrate on making the front and rear as sporty-looking as possible.
“We were looking at the RS3 and its classy style. We didn’t want to make this car look like a boy racer’s car.” The front bumper is bespoke and has massive air vents at the corners that lead up to the gaping, flared grille. In the lower grille opening, even the intercooler is visible – a clear motorsport design cue.
Along the side, the RS details are few and far between – it’s a near Focus ST copy. The Mk2’s distinctive side vents with integrated RS badging have gone, too – the blue RS letters have moved to the rear spoiler’s end plates. “We wanted to get the RS badge somewhere on the side, and I suggested the rear spoiler,” said a beaming Rupar. “My dream car as a kid was the Ferrari F40 and that car had ‘F40’ on the wing, so I wanted it on the RS, too!”
The spoiler is just one part of the rear end’s substantial makeover, however. The bumper – with its incorporated air diffuser, reversing light and two angled exhausts – is almost a carbon copy of the set-up on the old RS.
Full specifications will be revealed when the car makes its global debut at the Geneva Motor Show next month. But for now, it’s clear to see the RS is back – and back with an almighty bang.
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