We go beneath the skin of the new 155mph Ford Focus RS
4 July 2008

Engine

The engine itself is still the Volvo-derived 2.5-litre five-cylinder turbocharged engine that powers the ST, but it gets a bigger turbocharger and intercooler. The camshafts, con rods, cylinder head, exhaust system and intake manifold have all been entirely redesigned. Boost will be higher – possibly as much as 1.4 bar – but that has yet to be confirmed for homologation purposes.

Transmission

The RS will use exactly the same six-speed Getrag manual gearbox as the regular ST but will have a meatier, short-shift gearchange. The ratios will remain unchanged but the gearing will be slightly longer overall due to the standard fit 19in wheels. As expected it’ll also get a Quaife mechanical limited slip differential, similar in design to the one fitted to the previous Focus RS, but with all components beefed up to handle the extra torque of new RS.

Suspension

The RS will share its basic chassis architecture with the ST but gains an intreguing new piece of tech within its front struts known as the revo-knuckle. In practice this absorbs twist action without affecting the operation of the strut under load and is claimed to effectively eliminate torque steer.The front and rear tracks are also wider by 40mm, giving the car a wider, lower-looking stance. Front and rear spring and damper rates have been significantly uprated over those of the ST, and at the rear the suspension geometry has been reworked to allow a bigger anti-roll bar to be fitted.

Steering

As on the ST you will be able to select between three different levels of power steering assistance weights, but the RS will get a bespoke steering rack that’s a quarter turn quicker between the locks, despite providing a slightly better turning circle than the ST. On the road we’re promised that this will make the RS feel much sharper than the ST. Ford doesn’t know the exact kerbweight of the car because it hasn’t built a production example yet, but the engineering team say it should be less than 100kg heavier than the ST – which means somewhere south of 1500kg.

Brakes

As you would expect, the RS will get bigger brake discs at each corner and larger calipers to match. The front rotors are serious 226mm diameter cross-drilled items, while the rear uses 300mm diameter ventilated discs. The ESP system will also be retuned to allow more slip at either end, and it will be entirely switchable.

Interior

The most radical difference inside will be the fitment of a pair of bewinged Recaro front seats. These not only have huge side bolsters and much more under-thigh support but also feature a new material described as being suede-composite. Other differences inside include a new boost gauge, colour coded stitching on the door inserts, a new gearlever and subtle RS badges within the fascia (the prototype car we photographed didn’t have these, but they will be on the final production version).

Exterior styling

The RS looks menacing in pictures – and even meaner in the metal. Key differences between it and the ST include a new and massively more aggressive nose, a huge front splitter that reduces lift by over a quarter compared with the ST – plus big louvres in the bonnet that pay homage to the seminal Escort RS Cosworth and provide a ram-air effect for the turbo.The side skirts are deeper while ‘gills’ on each wing incorporate sexy-looking RS badges. The 19 inch wheels also get subtle RS branding and will wear 235/35 19in Continental rubber.At the rear a new spoiler balances the lift reduction available at the front of the car, helping to ensure aerodynamic balance – it’s not just there to look good. The huge new rear valance also helps rearwards airflow and incorporates two stubby chrome exhaust tailpipes that have been styled, we’re told, to look like the induction trumpets of a Cosworth DFV Formula One engine.

Colours

Paint options are still under discussion, but Ford confirms that – unlike the previous Focus RS – buyers won’t be restricted to Ford Racing Blue. Whether the shocking dayglo green of the photographic car you see here will make it onto the options list is another matter – but if enough potential customers experess enthusiasm then Ford will listen.

Marketing

Ford intends to build (and sell) approximately 9000 versions of the RS during the two or three years its on sale. There will be a range of options, possibly even including a set of ‘Cup’ tyres for owners especially keen on track days. Ford is even considering offering a range of factory approved performance upgrades, although whether this will be compatible with Ford’s stringent homologation processes is still to be confirmed.

Verdict

Does the RS sound too good to be true? Jost Capito and his team know precisely what they are doing – and unless something has gone very wrong indeed behind the scenes – the RS already appers destined for greatness. We won’t get to drive it until early next year so, unfortunately, all we can do for the moment is wait – and to wonder just how much we’ll want one when it does eventually go on sale.

Read more on Ford's new megahatch

Steve Sutcliffe

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Comments
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4 July 2008

"the front rotors are serious 226mm diameter cross-drilled items"

Does no-one check these things for accuracy?

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