Here, in first official pictures from its Nurburgring development programme, is Ford’s fantastic new performance flagship, the 2009 Focus RS.Ahead of the Focus RS’s public debut at the London motor show six weeks from now, Ford is honing the new 2009 RS’s performance and handling extensively in Germany at the Nurburgring. Autocar can now officially confirm that the 2009 RS will be powered by a specially developed version of the Duratec 2.5-litre turbo engine, that’s been ‘significantly revised’ to offer at least 278bhp and 295lb ft of torque.It will definitely be front-wheel-drive, with a limited slip differential helping to get that 278bhp down to the road. Ford is believed to be testing at the 'Ring to work out just how much power the Focus RS can realistically offer through its front-wheels and gearbox. Ford’s Cologne-based Team RS, the specialist group creating the hard-edged hatch, has been exploring ways to optimize the new Focus RS’s front-drive dynamics using new, advanced technology in the chassis and drive system. The advanced front diff is though to have been developed by engineering specialists Quaife, who developed the differential technology for the previous model.The team working on this all-new RS are the same group who were responsible for the original Focus RS in 2002, the Fiesta ST and the Focus ST. "In early prototypes based on Focus ST vehicles, the new system is more than meeting our targets for exceptional levels of traction, handling and steering," said Jost Capito, head of Team RS.Ford’s promising that the Focus RS will take the performance qualities of the ST hot hatch and amplify them to the next level, using know-how from the company’s World Rally programme to help further develop the car.Leaked pictures of an ‘ultimate green’ Focus RS, which Autocar revealed yesterday, are thought to be early mock-up photos from Belgium, developed to show Ford dealers what they can expect from the Blue Ovals new hardcore performance hatch. ‘Ultimate green’ will be the colour of the London show car and is a reference to the BP-sponsored world rally car colours. These latest shots of a black RS at the Nurburgring are the first official photos of the real-life car.“The time is right for Ford to deliver a new high performance model for the legions of loyal Ford RS customers around Europe," concluded Jost Capito. We couldn’t agree more.