THE new Ford Focus RS has been unveiled at an event in Germany – with the headlines being ‘at least’ 235kW from the same 2.3-litre EcoBoost four-cylinder used in Mustang and a switch to four-wheel drive with some very trick torque vectoring. It's a shot across the bow of the forthcoming Honda Civic Type R and current Nurburgring lap record holder, the Renaultsport Megane 275 Trophy R.
This is, if you’re keeping count, the third Focus RS, although only the second to come to Australia, and the first to go to the U.S. It will be sold globally as part of Ford’s move to internationalise its performance offerings, and it’s been engineered by a Ford Performance team working in both the U.S. and Europe.
We’ve not got any performance numbers yet, although the EcoBoost engine gets a bigger turbocharger than in the new Mustang; we’re betting it will make around the 255kW mark, compared to the previous model's 224kW. We’re also promised that the engine has been developed to rev hard, something the four-pot Mustang isn’t noticeably keen to do. We reckon on a 0-100km/h time somewhere in the mid-to-low fours when it goes on sale next year. There’s no pricing details yet, either – although the move to four-wheel drive and the sheer quantity of tech on the car suggests it’s likely to cost a fair chunk more than the last RS, which was $60,000 here.
The four-wheel drive system sounds properly impressive, with twin electronically-controlled clutch packs at the back, one working with each wheel. These enable management of both front-to-rear torque split – with up to 70 percent of effort being diverted to the rear axle. But also the side-to-side allocation, allowing some serious torque vectoring to help reduce understeer and – according to the official press release – “the ability to achieve controlled oversteer drifts at the track.” Sounds good to us.
The RS will gets firmer suspension than the ST, retuned electric power steering and switchable dampers as standard. Track-spec ‘Cup’ Michelin Pilot Sport tyres will also be an option. We’re told that it can generate more than 1G of lateral acceleration.
Ford will be releasing full details at the Geneva motor show in March with full coverage at wheelsmag.com.au