New Focus RS: Ford Of Europe's Ultimate Performance Car
The legendary Ford RS performance car brand is back and faster than ever. The stunning new 2009 Focus RS is previewed at Paris, while development work has confirmed it as the fastest ever European Ford production car.
Ford is confirming performance target figures for Focus RS as 0-100km/h in under 6.0 seconds and a top speed of 260 km/h or more.
However, for Team RS engineers, headed by Ford of Europe's Vehicle Line Director for Performance Vehicles, Jost Capito, this is only part of the story.
Said Capito: "We believe the new Focus RS will change expectations of a front-wheel-drive high performance car in the way it translates its power into precision, driveability, traction and performance. It's the fastest volume production car Ford has ever produced in Europe, yet it's also a driveable and practical car you can use every day. That's a significant achievement in driving dynamics."
The exciting new Focus RS is being previewed at the 2008 Paris Motor Show, following a debut in London in July, before going on sale in early 2009.
Green is Go Ford is also confirming that Focus RS customers will have three colour options from launch, including the vibrant, bright green metallic paint finish following the preview vehicle's extremely positive reception.
This colour was chosen as both a modern interpretation of the 1970s Ford Le Mans Green and a reflection of the livery worn by Ford's World Rally Championship Focus cars. To mark the obvious links between the new Focus RS and the Focus RS WRC, plus, significantly, the company's global partnership and association with BP, the new colour will be called ‘Ultimate Green' for production.
Focus RS will also be available in Ford Performance Blue and Frozen White, each with the choice of blue or green colour matched interior. A full black leather option will be available for all three exterior colours.
For performance car enthusiasts, the new car will mark a welcome return for the Ford RS badge. The new Focus RS will be the second Focus model to carry the RS mantle and promises another exciting chapter in an exciting 40-year Ford RS story that began in Germany in the late 1960s and gained momentum across Europe with the launch of the 1970 Escort RS1600.
Authentic RS presence and style Before it even turns a wheel, the new Focus RS exudes the presence, high-performance style and lowered, ‘meaner' appearance expected of a genuine Ford RS. Overt performance styling details mix with subtle revisions to create a planted, powerful stance and the promise of an exciting drive.
The Paris Show car previews the design intent for a final production vehicle, though as development work continues, some final details may change before production begins. The completely new front bumper design for Focus RS incorporates a deep front airdam with a large, mesh lower grille and an extended trapezoid. The stylish trapezoid represents the latest Ford kinetic design ‘face' and is finished in high gloss black.
Chromed xenon headlamps stand out like cat's eyes, framed by black housings with unique mesh design feature running underneath. The frontal aspect is finished with a high gloss black strip at the leading edge of the bonnet and integrated fog lamps, set in deep housings.
Above, two classic-style bonnet louvres are both a styling hint at the power beneath and a practical requirement, maintaining correct system temperatures.
Front and rear quarter panels have been revised to incorporate wider wheel arches and a wider track, complemented by revised, deeper side rocker mouldings. In another visual reminder of the car's performance potential, triangular, RS-badged vents sit behind the front wheel arches. Even the side mirrors, with integrated side indicator repeaters, are finished in high gloss black.
At the rear, a deep new rear bumper incorporates a large venturi tunnel to its lower edge – also in high gloss black – with small vents at each corner of the bumper, emphasizing the car's width. Two impressive chromed exhaust tailpipes sit each side of the venturi, creating a purposeful rear view for the car.
Above, a unique, twin-blade, black RS rear spoiler sits at the Focus RS' roofline, echoing both RS models of the past and the World Rally-winning Focus WRC that has been its inspiration.
"It's vital that a Focus RS looks like both a Focus and an RS – it needs to be individual, distinctive and overt in its performance styling, authentic to the RS tradition, but it also needs to meet the contemporary desires of Focus customers and show a clear progression from and relationship to Focus ST," said Stefan Lamm, Chief Exterior Designer, Ford of Europe.
High performance interior Inside, this theme continues with a unique and appropriately performance-oriented interior, designed to appeal to customer tastes and balance genuine sports performance with a strong sense of style and quality.
The cabin is dominated by bespoke Recaro high-performance sports seats, specially designed and trimmed for excellent support, even when driving enthusiastically. Each is colour-matched to the exterior, with ebony leather accents and ‘RS' and ‘Recaro' logos stitched into each backrest.
Elsewhere, colour brings new excitement to the Focus interior, building on the sporty interior theme of Focus ST with more use of accents matched to the exterior colour, brushed aluminium highlights and overt performance styling. Even the rear seats are sculpted, with higher side bolsters and a microfibre finish to echo those up front and create a four-seat vehicle.
The centre console is finished in a stylish carbon-look trim and metallic highlights abound, from air vents, door grab handles, switchgear and gearshift surround, to unique RS-branded scuff plates on the door sills. These highlights contrast with a black-trimmed roof lining, emphasising the sporty, cockpit feel.
The driver is reminded this is no ordinary Focus at every touch, with a gear lever finished with a six speed gear shift graphic in RS blue, a sporty, three-spoke steering wheel, finished with ‘Ford' and ‘RS' logos and even aluminium foot pedals. The performance driving environment is completed by three additional gauges from the Focus ST, including turbo pressure, sitting atop the centre console and angled toward the driver's eyeline.
Powerful RS heart At the heart of the all-new Focus RS is a specially developed, turbocharged version of the Duratec 2.5-litre, five-cylinder engine. Significantly revised for high performance, this powerplant is targeting an impressive power output of 300PS and 440Nm of torque, contributing to an excellent power-to-weight ratio.
Such significant increases are not simply the result of altering engine management or boost pressure: starting with the Duratec 2.5-litre block, Ford RS engineers developed unique camshafts, a revised cylinder head and gasket and revised intake and manifold system for the car.
In addition, specific measurements have been taken to let the RS enthusiast enjoy a sound to fully match the impressive performance of the Focus RS. A specially tuned 'sound symposer' transmits defined noises from the intake system to the passenger compartment, whilst the RS exhaust system contributes a very sporty and sonorous 5-cylinder turbo-sound.
A traction ‘Revo'-lution Throughout Focus RS' development, Capito and his team are keeping a razor sharp focus on creating a car with excellent performance and traction.
Various innovations, developed as a result of customer feedback from previous performance Fords, have allowed engineers to keep the new Focus RS as front-wheel drive, with a limited-slip differential, while still achieving demanding targets for traction, handling and steering.
The new Ford Focus RS is equipped with an innovative front suspension system known as a ‘RevoKnuckle', which is designed to reduce unwanted steering disturbance and torque steer.
‘Torque steer' – the impact of torque on steering in front-wheel driven vehicles – can occur during hard acceleration, cornering or driving on uneven surfaces, when torque on the driven wheels exceeds grip levels. It is characterised by sudden turning force on the steering wheel and can be exacerbated by vehicles with wide tyres and limited-slip differentials. In Focus RS, the RevoKnuckle works in conjunction with a Quaife Automatic Torque Biasing limited-slip differential. Ford Team RS engineers have worked closely with Ford's Advanced Research Centre in Aachen, Germany to develop the RevoKnuckle technology specifically for the high performance Focus RS. It allows the simplicity of a traditional McPherson strut arrangement, but with geometry settings that minimise steering disturbances and torque steer, principally a reduction in steering offset.
"The Ford Focus is an excellent base for a high performance car – agile, responsive and stable," explained Capito. "We studied at length how best to enhance these qualities for a high performance model. Our work has shown clearly our approach in combining a tuned RevoKnuckle with the Quaife differential is an ideal solution for a high performance front-wheel-drive road car like Focus RS.
"We gave all-wheel-drive careful consideration – but by combining and tuning these elements and learning from Ford's expertise in industry-leading handling, we believe we can eliminate the weight of AWD from the car and still deliver a class-leading balance of traction, handling and performance.
"The result is a lightweight set-up, that will deliver the right blend of traction and razor sharp controllability – in a way no one would have expected from front-wheel-drive," Capito concluded.
Dynamic, agile and responsive A genuine Focus RS must maintain and enhance the reputation for responsive, precise handling for which Focus is acclaimed and considerable engineering effort has ensured that the new Focus RS will do just that.
Driving quality developments for Focus RS include a 40mm wider track, stronger, longer driveshafts, revised springs and dampers and a thicker, longer rear anti-roll bar. At the same time, the steering system is retuned to provide an even sharper steering response and very precise feedback.
Brakes have also been uprated, generating vice-like stopping power on road or track. Large calipers peek out from behind unique 19-inch wheels that are wrapped in 235/35 low profile Continental tyres.
A special version of Ford's ESP system has also been developed for Focus RS, designed to allow a very sporty driving style before activating. Intensive work to refine the natural handling abilities of the car has allowed the ESP system to carry a full de-activation option for enthusiast drivers and especially for track use. "We are refining all the handling characteristics of Focus RS without ESP, to hone its natural responses, rather than use ESP to help its handling. In Focus RS, ESP is a pure safety device," explained Capito.
Reliable and durable In creating the new Focus RS, Ford's Team RS engineers have to meet the same stringent targets for durability and reliability as set for the rest of the Focus range.
Despite its many bespoke engineering and styling elements, Focus RS will be built entirely on the main Focus production line in Saarlouis, Germany and offered with a standard Ford of Europe warranty.
A great heritage In being both a genuine Ford RS and a full member of the Focus family, the new Focus RS represents a significant moment in the heritage of both brands.
It is ten years since the Ford Focus was first revealed to the world at the Geneva Motor Show in 1998, paving the way for a range of Ford vehicles whose exciting design was matched by class-leading driving quality.
Since this time, more than 5.4 million Ford Focus models have been built in Europe, including Russia, with the car also built and sold in North America and Asia.
At the same time, the new Focus RS marks the return of the famous but rare Ford RS badge, last seen on the first-generation Focus RS in 2002 and with a distinguished heritage stretching back 38 years including Fiesta, Escort and Sierra models.
"RS is a unique part of Ford's high performance heritage and the Focus has played a major part in establishing Ford's excellent reputation for driving dynamics. The all-new Focus RS will embrace and celebrate both of these – it will be a genuine RS and a genuine Focus and I'm confident it won't disappoint in either area," concluded Capito.