Ken Block talks performance
Speaking to Autocar at the Goodwood Festival of Speed, where Ken Block drove up the famous hill climb route, the racer said he had enjoyed working on the development of the car: "It’s a fun car. It’s been fun to help with the development because all the testing and development I’ve done in the past has been on race cars.
"This car is really nice. The Focus ST is already quite nice to drive, but this is just another level. It’s a fun package."
"There needs to be the horsepower to go along with that, too," said Block "They’re really hit the mark with it, the fit and finish is really nice."
Q&A with Tyrone Johnson, Ford Focus RS engineering manager
When did Ford start work on the new Focus RS?
“We started talking about it some time ago. Certainly the engineers started thinking about it the day they signed off the last one, but of course there has to be a business case behind any decision to actually make it. Compared to making money on this kind of car, finding an extra 100bhp or so is easy. Specific approval came at the end of 2013.”
How quickly did you settle on the technical specification?
“It would have been the easiest thing in the world to add 60bhp, put bigger wheels and tyres on and bolt a wing to the back - but all of us at Ford were clear that we weren’t interested in that. We’ve been there and done that with RS; this time we wanted a different kind of RS.”
Why go for four-wheel drive?
“We actually built a four-wheel drive prototype three or four years ago, using more traditional technology. We drove it and, well, let’s say it was not satisfying to us. It didn’t have the dynamic levels that Ford has become known for and therefore we couldn’t envisage going down that route. But then this new system came on the radar, and it transformed the vehicle dynamics. We were up and running.”
How quickly did the project progress from there?
“Let’s just say it has been a busy year. Finding technical solutions was one challenge, but we were also sent back half a dozen times to try and find better solutions for less cost. We had to find better ways to achieve our goals; RS is also about being affordable, and that tension drive a lot of originality and invention.”
Was the five-door layout a hinderance?
“Of course, a three-door layout is lighter, but ultimately the five-door situation has detracted nothing from this car - nothing. It simply wasn’t an issue, and I guarantee you that this car will be amazing to drive.”
Why have road and track settings?
“We wanted this generation of Focus RS to have a greater flexibility than before. We know that RS has a purist’s heritage, and that we had to produce a proper sports car to justify that. But we also have to recognise that the world has moved on; people who bought a Focus RS Mk1 or Mk2 have families now, and we felt they might appreciate a road setting that allows them to use the car in comfort, and then to switch it for those boy racer moments.”