2016 Ford Focus RS is a car.
Start Rating: (C2400)
Max Rating: (C3328)
Ford introduced the first ever Focus RS in 2002, reviving the RS (Rallye Sport) badge after having popularized it before with rally homologation specials like the Escort RS 1600 or the Escort RS Cosworth. Despite looking like a road-going version of the WRC model, the car was FWD and offered a little over 200 horsepower. Almost seven years later, another generation of the Focus RS arrived with an even more pronounced rally look and a Volvo-sourced five-cylinder with 305 horsepower sent to the front wheels. While torque-steer was kept to a minimum via a standard LSD from Quaife and a MacPherson front suspension strut called RevoKnuckle, the car was still far from offering WRC-like performance for the road.
Ford wants to change all that with the recently unveiled, third-generation Focus RS, as the model will be offered with an innovative all-wheel-drive system. Set to be manufactured at the same German plant as its predecessors, this will also be the first RS model to be sold around the world, including the U.S. With a Mustang-sourced, 2.3-liter, EcoBoost engine that has been engineered to deliver in excess of 300 horsepower, the all-new Focus RS seems to really up the ante for Ford in the performance-hatch category.
Sporting a body kit that is more than worthy of the RS badge, the new Ford hot-hatch looks ready to be flicked across a super-special rally stage right off the showroom floor. The front end has been completely taken over by a large trapezoidal grille that is accompanied by a front splitter that extends far down and offers a nice view of the intercooler. Large outboard openings on each side of what’s left of the front bumper feed air to cool the front brakes, and also house a pair of vertically mounted fog lamps that remind me in a way of the Kia Pro’Ceed.
The side profile is typical RS style, with each wheel arch having been widened to make room for a choice of 19-inch light-alloy wheels that are exclusive to the model. The rear-end design is downright dominated by a gigantic aerodynamic diffuser which is not all show and no go, as it helps the car achieve better downforce while reducing drag. Twin exhaust openings flank the diffuser on each side, while a rear roof spoiler completes the package and also harks back to the distinctive wing of the Escort RS Cosworth Cosworth . All in all, the new Ford Focus Ford Focus RS looks like it means business and it isn’t afraid to show it, especially since it was unveiled in the same Liquid Blue paint as the Ford GT Concept in Detroit.
As expected, the new Focus RS interior is replete with racing-like features, starting with the standard Recaro sports seats and a flat-bottomed steering wheel, and ending with a multitude of RS badges. Optionally, European and Asian customers will also get a pair of signature RS Recaro shell seats covered in "authentic motorsport microfiber fabric panels." The entire package is completed by alloy sports pedals, a new shifter with matching graphics and an additional instrument cluster sitting on top of the center console, where it displays the boost pressure, oil temperature and oil pressure.
Offering SYNC connectivity as standard, the new RS provides access to a number of features, such as the audio system, sat-nav, climate control system or smartphones via either an 8-inch touchscreen or voice commands. Ford says that owners can even tell the car to "Find a race track" and SYNC will provide them with directions to the closest public circuit.
The new RS bears the same turbocharged 2.3-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder in the 2015 Mustang, but this time it’s tuned to deliver an impressive |345 horsepower and 324 pound-feet of torque. Max torque arrives at 3,200 between 2,000 and 4,500 rpm. An overboost function will deliver up to 347 pound-feet for 15 seconds at a time.
For the U.S. market, the 2016 Focus RS delivers a total of 350 horsepower at 6,000 rpm on way to 6,800-rpm redline and 350 pound-feet of torque at 3,200 rpm.
That’s more than the RS’s major competitors, including the new Civic Type-R, Volkswagen Golf R, and Subaru WRX STI.
The big output is courtesy of a new twin-scroll turbocharger that comes with a slightly larger compressor wheel, and the intake charge is chilled by an oversized intercooler for more efficiency. The cylinder head is made from a high-temp-resistant alloy, while the block employs high-tensile cast-iron liners. The intake and exhaust are both revised for better flow, while an electronically controlled valve allows for more or less sound, depending on the driver’s mood and the proximity of law enforcement.
Redline for the 2.3-liter is set at 6,800 rpm, and emissions have been cut by 20 percent compared to the old RS’s 2.5-liter five-cylinder. No word on mileage, although Ford says it’ll be “significantly better” than what we’ve seen from the old RS. Not that it matters.
The big news is the all-wheel-drive system though. It not only offers torque vectoring – which is brake actuated, sadly – but it can also send up to 70 percent of the available torque to the rear axle. Personally, I am yet to find out another AWD car that can send up to 70 percent of its torque to the rear, so I’m still waiting for Ford to tell us how they did it. On top of that, it seems that of the torque that reaches the rear axle, up to 100 percent of it can be sent to either rear wheel, giving the new Focus RS true controlled-oversteer drift ability. The entire system is apparently based around a so-called Rear Drive Unit (RDU), which consists of twin electronically controlled clutch packs that also act as a limited-slip differential.