Naturally, the heart of the Focus RS is its 2.3-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder engine, whipping up an estimated 350 horsepower and a maximum 350 pound-feet of torque -- more than was initially announced -- between 2,000 and 4,500 rpm. That’s 10 percent more power than the same EcoBoost engine delivers, under the hood of a Mustang. Technical upgrades, including a new twin-scroll turbocharger with a bigger housing help account for the increase, as does a larger-diameter exhaust system.
A Focus RS driver can choose from four modes -- Normal, Sport, Track and Drift -- which affect damping rates, stability-control settings, steering and throttle response, and all-wheel drive settings. Changing modes will even alter the exhaust sound. Ford advises that Drift mode is an “industry first,” intended specifically for track-only use.
Ford claims the Focus RS can accelerate to 62 mph in 4.7 seconds, and is capable of reaching 165 mph on the track. Normally reserved only for race cars, a “scramble-boost” (overboost) function is included. Pushing a button at the steering wheel induces the engine to increase boost pressure, but only temporarily. Scramble-boost can engage automatically when the throttle is wide open, for 15-second bursts, before reverting to the regular boost figure. Ford has said torque output will rise from 324 to 350 pound-feet during those bursts.
Only a six-speed manual transmission is available, sending all that energy to all four wheels via Ford's racing-inspired Performance All-Wheel Drive system. Monitoring various sensors 100 times per second, the system can provide controlled oversteer drifts for peak performance on the race track. Dynamic Torque Vectoring actively distributes torque to each wheel to improve handling, according to Ford. Launch Control Technology should let the Focus RS. take corners more adeptly than any prior Focus. Lateral acceleration exceeds 1 g.
A Focus RS hatchback looks the part of a race-ready car, too, with a particularly aggressive front-end appearance that centers on a bold upper trapezoidal grille, above a deep front splitter. For superior engine cooling, air-intake openings are as large as possible. Brake cooling ducts and vertically-mounted foglamps emphasize the car’s wide, muscular stance.
Inside are partially leather-trimmed, heavily bolstered Recaro bucket seats with contrast stitching, a flat-bottom steering wheel with soft-feel leather-covered rim, metal pedals, and a 10-speaker Sony audio system. Options will include a power moonroof, 19-inch forged wheels, and Michelin Pilot Cup Sport 2 tires. Four colors will be available when sales begin in Spring 2016, including Nitrous Blue ($695 extra), Stealth Gray, Frozen White, and Shadow Black.
For $2,785, an optional RS2 package includes such convenience features as an 8-way power adjustable driver seat, heated Recaro front seats, a heated steering wheel and mirrors, voice-activated touchscreen navigation, and SiriusXM Traffic and Travel Link.
Being realistic, not every buyer will be planning to take his or her Focus RS to a race track. They’ll pay a substantial premium for the privilege of owning one, but few are likely to complain. Pricing of the Focus RS is expected to start at $36,605 (including an $875 destination charge). In comparison, the current Focus ST stickers for $25,300.
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