Aaron Bragman, Cars.com 3:50 p.m. EST February 3, 2015
Ford Motor Co. unveiled its latest high-performance version of the Focus compact, slated to be introduced as a global model sometime next year. The new Focus RS (which will be either a 2016 or 2017 model, Ford would not specify) will be built in the company's Saarlouis, Germany, manufacturing plant but sold in all markets around the world including the U.S.
As for when the Focus RS will go on sale, Ford didn't say much about that either, only that Europe would see it first sometime in 2016, with the U.S. to follow. U.S. buyers should figure on late 2016, either as a late 2016 or early 2017 model.
The RS will sit above the Focus ST in Ford's small performance-car lineup. Ford also sells a smaller Fiesta ST; both ST models are equipped with front-wheel drive.
The Focus will compete with: Volkswagen Golf R, Subaru WRX STI, Audi S4, Mercedes-Benz CLA45 AMG
Ford didn't change much from the standard Focus five-door hatchback — there is no more three-door Focus anywhere in the world — but added various scoops and wings for better downforce and cooling throughout the car. With the RS package, these changes are functional, not just cosmetic. Ford has long used its RS badge in Europe as a direct tie-in with much of the racing and rallying the company does with the technology showing up in street versions that gets proven out on tracks and trails.
The grille and front air openings feed as much cooling air as possible to the engine and brakes, and a rear diffuser optimizes airflow from under the vehicle as well. Nineteen-inch wheels are standard and will be offered in multiple designs, including a high-performance lightweight forged wheel. Curiously, the Focus RS does not use any lightweight materials to replace steel in the body or structure; there are no carbon-fiber or aluminum panels, for instance. Only four colors will be available as well: blue, black, gray and white.
Inside, the Focus RS gets a performance makeover as well, with a new flat-bottom steering wheel with a leather-wrapped rim, alloy pedal covers and a unique instrument cluster with RS graphics. A supplementary bank of gauges now sits atop the center console displaying turbocharger boost pressure, oil temperature and oil pressure. All the normal Focus amenities are offered, including parking sensors, the full Sync multimedia system with navigation and a 10-speaker Sony sound system. Heavily bolstered Recaro-brand sport seats are standard as well.
Under the Hood
This is where details are still a bit sketchy. Ford says the new Focus RS will feature a highly tuned turbocharged 2.3-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder engine. That's the same one in the new Mustang, but with modifications that boost output to more than 315 horsepower. No torque figures were given.
The motor features a new low-inertia twin-scroll turbocharger with a larger compressor than the one in the Mustang EcoBoost, and the Focus' engine is accompanied by a much larger intercooler system. Along with a less restrictive intake design and large-bore exhaust system with a noise-controlling butterfly valve, the engine essentially flows a lot more air than the motor in the Mustang, boosting horsepower over the Mustang's unit.
The power gets to the wheels via a six-speed manual transmission only (no automatic will be offered) and a new all-wheel-drive system, which can shunt as much as 70% of the available torque to the rear wheels, and further direct 100% of that torque to either the left or right rear wheel as needed. All of it is accomplished through two electronic clutches and special torque vectoring controls, meant to help the Focus RS go even faster in corners while still allowing for some controlled oversteer drifts.
As for how fast the Focus RS is, how much it weighs, how big the Brembo-brand brakes are or any other specs and figures, Ford isn't yet saying.