Is the Ford Focus the ultimate ‘real life’ motor? It certainly presents the consumer with a host of tempting features including economy, comfort, handling, a decent boot, excellent cabin size, refinement and amazing technology as standard. Yet you can pick up the latest Focus from just £15,995 OTR, rising to £22,095 for a Titanium X. It certainly is a lot of car for the money and one that should provide many years of fuss free motoring with a model to suit all needs. For fans of the Focus who want all of the benefits but with that extra special something, Ford have spent quite some time developing their next superstar. And here it is, Ford’s all-new Focus RS high-performance car. A car that Ford say, pioneers the innovative Ford Performance All Wheel Drive (AWD) system, and delivers class-leading cornering speed, thrilling performance and unbridled driving enjoyment.
In what could be an industry first, Ford have committed the development of their all new Focus RS to film and have been releasing episodes regularly over the course of 2015. This has allowed us, the viewer, a unique view into what it takes to get a thoroughly modern performance car into production and onto the forecourt. MotorMartin has collected together all eight episodes below for your pleasure. How many people can say that Ken Block has been directly involved in the development of their car? How cool is that?
Ford is especially proud of the advanced technologies that they have been able to pack inside the innovative and bulging bodywork, sharing with MotorMartin many of the new ideas on show in their new model. The Focus RS introduces advanced performance technologies, and is the first Ford RS equipped with selectable Drive Modes – including an industry-first Drift Mode – and Launch Control. Perhaps we’re now seeing the influence of Ken Block here!
With a specially engineered 350 PS version of Ford’s new 2.3-litre EcoBoost engine, the high-performance hatchback is the fastest ever RS model, sprinting from 0-100 km/h (0-62 mph) in 4.7 seconds and hitting a top speed of 266 km/h (165 mph). It almost seems inconceivable that this level of performance is available from only 2.3-litres, especially when you compare this new engine with that of the original Focus RS released back in 2002. Available as a limited run until late 2003, the front-wheel drive Ford Focus RS was powered by a 2.0-litre 16-valve Duratec engine that produced just 212bhp and had a top-speed of only 144mph.
It’s easy to be a little cynical when listening to Manufacturers talking about their products but with Ford and the RS development team, you get a real sense of the passion that they have for the car and their understanding of fast Ford fans. “The all-new Focus RS is a serious machine with high-performance technology and innovative engineering that sets new benchmarks for driving exhilaration on the road and track,” said Raj Nair, group vice president, Global Product Development, Ford Motor Company. “It’s a great example of our passion for innovation through performance and creating vehicles that make people’s hearts pound.”
The Focus RS is part of a performance onslaught from Ford that will see more than 12 performance vehicles delivered to customers globally through 2020, including the stunning Ford GT ultra-high-performance supercar that will compete at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2016, an event that MotorMartin is already looking forward to.
The all-new Focus RS is the first ever RS model that will be sold in North America and China, and commenced volume production for a total of 42 global markets on Jan. 14 at Ford’s Saarlouis, Germany, manufacturing plant.
Ford’s activities have clearly hit a chord with RS fans as European customers have already placed more than 3,100 orders for the new model, with 250,000 vehicles configured by customers on Ford’s websites. I think that can be seen as a massive thumbs up, indeed Essex has been drooling for months as Ford have continued to release hints and partial images to tease and build tension.
Innovative Ford Performance All Wheel Drive offers unmatched handling
As highlighted in the title of this piece, the all-new Focus RS features innovative Ford Performance AWD with Dynamic Torque Vectoring to deliver a new level of handling capability and driver enjoyment, combining outstanding traction and grip with unmatched agility and cornering speed.
Ford go on to say that the Ford Performance 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 also can control the side-to-side torque distribution at the rear axle – delivering the “torque vectoring” capability, which has a dramatic impact on handling and cornering stability.
The control unit in the RDU continuously varies the front-to-rear and side-to-side torque distribution to suit the current driving situation, monitoring inputs from multiple vehicle sensors 100 times per second. A maximum of 70 per cent of the drive torque can be diverted to the rear axle. Up to 100 per cent of the available torque at the rear axle can be sent to each rear wheel, and the RDU can switch drive from one side to the other in as little as 0.06 seconds.
During cornering, the rear drive unit pre-emptively diverts torque to the outer rear wheel 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.
The AWD system has been tuned by Ford engineers to deliver exceptional grip – with lateral acceleration force exceeding 1 g – and class-leading cornering speed and acceleration out of bends. With neutral and adjustable limit handling, and the ability to achieve controlled oversteer drifts at the track, the Focus RS delivers the ultimate fun-to-drive experience. This all sounds truly amazing. Even if you don’t fully understand all of the mechanics behind the technology you can certainly get a sense of the commitment to a driving ideal that Ford’s engineering teams have been striving for.
“This AWD system is a breakthrough technology, capable of delivering supreme cornering and handling at the limit,” said Dave Pericak, director, Global Ford Performance. “We have ripped up the rulebook which says that AWD hatchbacks cannot be fun to drive, and have created a car which will surprise and reward in equal measure.”
To deliver optimum driving dynamics, the Ford Performance AWD system was calibrated alongside the car’s advanced Electronic Stability Control, in particular the brake-based Torque Vectoring Control system that works in parallel with the torque-vectoring AWD.
Ford are rightly proud of further exclusive chassis features including sports suspension with stiffer spring rates – increased by 33 per cent front and 38 per cent rear – and more efficient anti-roll-bars than those found in the Focus ST, and two-mode switchable dampers, which offer a 40 per cent firmer Sport setting for track driving. A carefully tuned electric power-assisted steering system, working in combination with an optimised front suspension knuckle design and shorter steering link arms, delivers responsive steering with outstanding feel.
To ensure there was no compromise to the precision and connected feel offered by the steering, additional stiffening measures were introduced to the chassis – notably in the rear subframe – and the rear body structure. These measures increased the vehicle’s overall torsional stiffness by 23 per cent compared to a standard Focus model.
And it’s not just the RS Team that have been up burning the midnight oil as Ford engineers worked closely with Michelin to develop a choice of high-performance 235/35 R19 tyres to complement the driving dynamics of the Focus RS: a standard Pilot Super Sport tyre for every-day use.
The vehicle’s exterior design has also been developed to support the driving dynamics. Careful aerodynamic optimisation of the front splitter, rear spoiler and underbody features eliminates lift forces, and the final design delivers a balanced performance with zero lift front and rear for optimum high-speed handling and stability. It can’t just be a coincidence that the results look so sharp and dynamic in MotorMartin’s eyes though.
With a drag coefficient of 0.355, the shape of the new model is 6 per cent more aerodynamic than the previous Focus RS, and with its more compact frontal area, the vehicle generates 9 per cent less drag, improving high-speed performance and reducing fuel consumption.
So far, so good then. The all new Focus RS is packed full of technology and power, has been designed with innovations aplenty and will appeal to the Global Market as well as the Fast Ford heartland of Essex. Checkout https://motormartin.wordpress.com/2016/01/24/news-all-new-ford-focus-rs-pioneers-innovative-awd-and-performance-technologies-for-ultimate-driving-enjoyment-part-2/ for Part 2 as this story is only just beginning.
Where will you go?