Ford confirms higher than expected performance figures for hottest Focus ever
When Ford revealed the new Focus RS at this year's Geneva motor show, it said its most powerful production Focus ever would produce "in excess of 235kW".
That would have seen it eclipse some of the hottest all-wheel drive small cars currently available, including the 206kW/380Nm Volkswagen Golf R and 221kW/407Nm Subaru WRX STI, not to mention the most powerful front-drive hot hatches like Renault's Megane RS275 Trophy (201kW/360Nm), Peugeot's upcoming 308 GTi (200kW/330Nm) and Honda's next Civic Type-R (230kW/400Nm), which may never be sold here.
Now it has announced the new Focus RS, which has been confirmed for release in Australia next year, will produce no less than 350hp (257kW) and 440Nm of torque (470Nm in overboost) — more than the 233kW/432Nm Mustang EcoBoost muscle car with which it shares its 2.3-litre turbo-petrol four-cylinder engine. It also makes it more powerful than BMW's cracking M135i (235kW/450Nm).
In fact, the only small cars more powerful will be the 270kW/465Nm turbo-petrol five-cylinder Audi RS 3, which will arrive here in October priced around $80,000, and the upgraded Mercedes-AMG A 45 S, which could produce up to 294kW. The current A 45 offers 265kW/400Nm and costs about $75,000.
However, while Ford says the 257kW power output — 10 per cent more than the model it replaces — will apply to the Focus RS' European state of tune, exactly what peak power the Focus RS offers here next year remains to be seen.
Ford makes no performance claim for the all-wheel drive Focus RS (which should cost about $60,000 here — about $20,000 more than the 184kW/360Nm front-drive Focus ST — but it should easily hit 100km/h in less than five seconds.
Ford's announcement co-incides with the appearance of rallycross legend Ken Block at today's Goodwood Festival of Speed opening, where a prototype Focus RS will make its global dynamic debut.
“We promised enthusiasts a serious driving machine and, with 350ps under the hood, that is exactly what we will deliver,” said Dave Pericak, the global director of Ford Performance.
“The stunning pace and innovative technology of the all-new Focus RS place it head-to-head with performance models from luxury and exotic marques, and it’s ready for the challenge.”
The Focus RS' all-wheel drive system will be aided by Dynamic Torque Vectoring, which Ford claims "delivers a new level of handling capability and driver enjoyment by combining outstanding traction and grip with unmatched agility and cornering speed".
It will also be the first Ford RS model equipped with selectable Drive Modes — including an industry-first Drift Mode that allows controlled oversteer drifts — and Launch Control.
Ford says the performance boost over the old Focus RS comes courtesy of a low-inertia twin-scroll turbocharger with larger compressor that delivers significantly greater air flow, along with a much bigger intercooler to maximise charge density.
Engine breathing also is enhanced through a less restrictive intake design, and a large-bore high-performance exhaust system with an electronically controlled valve in the tailpipe that helps optimise back pressure and noise output.
The cylinder head is produced from an upgraded alloy material, while the cylinder block employs stronger high-tensile cast iron liners. Engine cooling is handled by the largest radiator pack ever fitted to a Focus.
"Meticulous calibration work has ensured that the power unit delivers excellent low-end responsiveness with a powerful mid-range pull, climbing to a free-revving top-end up to a maximum rev limit of 6800rpm," said Ford.
It says maximum torque of 440Nm is delivered between 2000 and 4500 rpm, with 470Nm available for up to 15 seconds on transient overboost during hard acceleration in its European state of tune.
"Inspiring performance demands an inspiring soundtrack," said Ford. "Ford Performance engineers have tuned the RS to deliver a rewarding and sporty sound character during spirited driving, with the distinctive burbles and pops that are a RS signature."
Developed in Europe and the US, the 30th Ford car to wear the legendary RS badge — and the third Focus RS generation after previous models in 2002 and 2009 -- will be built in Saarlouis, Germany.
“This very special 2.3-litre EcoBoost unit will inspire drivers as they feel the surge of the turbo, and reward them as they take it to the redline — all delivered with a visceral sound guaranteed to put a smile on your face,” Pericak said.