By Scott Evans, April 06, 2015
The Ford Focus RS won't go on sale for a year, but fans are already lined up around the block to get deposits in. While you're waiting, here are 11 things you'll want to know about your new baby.
Everyone's heard about it, but what does it actually do? As you would hope, it lets the car oversteer. By default, the RS is set up to handle neutrally and put as much power to the ground as possible, like a GT-R. Enable Drift Mode, though, and it'll handle more like a Focus ST, letting the rear end come out and play. More than that, though, the Ford guys say it'll actually power oversteer, as it can send up to 70 percent of the power to the rear wheels. What Drift Mode actually does is loosen up the stability control and the dampers and allow the rear end to transfer more weight side-to-side in a corner, which can make the car oversteer.
The Ford engineers we talked to wouldn't say how much power the RS has, but not because they didn't want to. It's because they're still trying to get even more out of it. Right now, they're saying "at least" 315 hp because they've already hit that number. They want more, and we're just going to have to wait while they wring every last drop out of the 2.3-liter turbo four.
Wheels, Tires, and Brakes
Standard tires are Michelin Pilot Super Sports. The Pilot Cup 2s you've seen on the show cars are optional. Also optional are the blacked-out, forged aluminum wheels, which save a pound of unsprung weight per corner. The four-piston front and one-piston rear Brembo brakes are standard.
Power is transferred to the rear wheels via a simple power takeoff on the front transaxle; there's no center differential. At the rear, the differential has two clutches, one on either half-shaft. This means that of the 70 percent of engine power that can be sent to the rear, up to 100 percent of that power can be sent to either rear wheel. Up front, Ford continues with its brake-based torque vectoring system rather than a mechanical limited-slip differential. The computer checks its sensors 100 times per second to decide where to send the power. When you're just tooling around town, the RS will basically be front-wheel drive for better fuel economy. It even has automatic engine start/stop, though you can turn that off.
It's a six-speed manual or nothing, and that's the way Ford wants it. They could've done a dual-clutch, but they didn't think it fit the character of the car. The clutch has been upgraded, but Ford says the computer doesn't need to pull power to protect the drivetrain. It can handle the whole thing, all the time. Also, the shifter will have shorter throws than the Focus ST.
The RS has launch control, and there's no limiter on it. You can do as many launch control starts in a row as you want to. But please, think of your clutch.
The chassis has been stiffened for the RS compared to other Foci, as you might expect. Not because the engine is so powerful, but because the car has so much grip. Stiffening the chassis helped keep the wheels planted better and allows the car to handle even better.
All RS cars get standard Recaro bucket seats. An upgraded Recaro seat gets suede inserts, seat heaters, and seat coolers.
Ford says the RS will be priced "competitively" with the Subaru WRX STI and Volkswagen Golf R, so figure just under $40,000.
How much did he really have to do with the new RS? The Ford people tell us that when asked, he pushed them very hard for all-wheel drive, and that helped them decide to do it. Block is also credited with helping to come up with the Drift Mode idea and had input on the car's handling. He was also consulted on things like paint colors. He does it all for free because he loves the Focus RS.
So far, the color palette is pretty simple: black, white, Nitrous Blue, and a new Stealth flat gray. More colors may come later.
11 Things You'll Want to Know About the Ford Focus RS