Anticipation is one of life’s great things, I have always felt, writes Declan Colley
The thrill of expectation, of course, does not always live up to what you thought it would be, but in the case of the new Ford Focus RS, which was launched to the press in Spain last week, I fully expect it to exceed any of the high hopes we have for the car.
The RS brand has always signified something special from Ford and although I was unable to make the European launch, I can’t tell you how much I’m looking forward to getting my hands on this beastie.
The two previous RS models held us in great thrall and I am fully expecting that the new one will further demonstrate Ford’s capacity to build bonkers sports versions of cars otherwise noted for their ordinariness.
As a taster for the new car, I can tell you that it will cost in the region of €50,000, it will be fitted with Ford’s new performance all wheel drive (AWD) system, and a specially engineered 350 bhp version of Ford’s new 2.3-litre EcoBoost engine.
That makes it the fastest ever RS model, with a 0-100km/h time of 4.7 seconds and a top speed of 266km/h (165 m/h).
The AWD system is based on twin electronically controlled clutch packs on each side of the rear drive unit (RDU). These manage the car’s front-to-rear torque split, and can control the side-to-side torque distribution at the rear axle — delivering a ‘torque vectoring’ capability, which has a dramatic impact on handling and cornering stability.
During cornering, the rear drive unit pre-emptively diverts torque to the outer rear wheel immediately based on inputs such as steering wheel angle, lateral acceleration, yaw, and speed. This torque transfer has the effect of “driving” the car into the bend, achieving improved turn-in and stability, and virtually eliminating understeer.
That, combined with the specially engineered 2.3-litre EcoBoost will, I confidently predict, make this machine one for the ages.
The bespoke unit shares its fundamental structure with the all-aluminium four-cylinder 2.3-litre engine in the all-new Mustang, but this one has, however, been significantly upgraded through a comprehensive package of design changes, the full details of which I will spare you until I get my hands on one to review it.
For the moment though, suffice to say stuff like a new low-inertia twin-scroll turbocharger with a larger compressor and a much bigger intercooler to maximise charge density will thrill greatly.
There is also a large-bore high performance exhaust system with an electronically controlled valve in the tailpipe that helps optimise the balance of back pressure and noise output.
Ford says meticulous calibration work has ensured that the power unit delivers excellent low-end responsiveness with a powerful mid-range pull, climbing to a free-revving top-end up to a maximum rev limit of 6,800rpm.
And, just to make the madness all the madder, it will come with a bunch of new technologies including selectable Drive Modes — including an industry-first Drift Mode — as well as a Launch Control system.
Ford says the Focus RS is part of a performance onslaught from them which will see more than 12 new sporty delivered to customers through to 2020, not least of which will be the Ford GT ultra-high-performance supercar that will compete at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in June.
The new Focus RS is the third generation of Focus RS cars and it is the 30th to wear the legendary RS badge, following such belters as the 16-valve 1970 Escort RS1600, the turbocharged Sierra RS Cosworth of 1985, and the four-wheel-drive 1992 Escort RS Cosworth.
Dramatic looks are of course part of the DNA of the Focus RS and this one won’t disappoint on that front. It is epic looking and the usual suite of in-your-face colour schemes will add to the appeal.
The all-new Focus RS will arrive in Ireland in April and will be offered in one series: AWD Focus RS 5-door 2.3 litre EcoBoost petrol 350PS with a 6-speed transmission and CO2 figure of 175g/km, and will sell from €52,600.
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