It’s been a while since the first Ford RS was released and the company has shifted its focus to super-hot crossovers. During the 2000s, the automaker has experimented with the model to provide the most efficient rally performance, going from 200 to 300 horsepower with engines from various manufacturers, even including Volvo. However, the experiments have clearly satisfied Ford bosses and this year they announced the release of the next generation of RS, which will be even more powerful and impressive than previous versions.
It will be the third attempt to revive RS, and we eagerly anticipated it because the model has the potential to deliver a rally-like performance for the road. Among the facts that we were most interested in was that it would use a Mustang-sourced engine and lots of other new components that made it all-new. Clearly, Ford aims to regain its positions in the performance oriented hatch category. Let’s see if it can do that with a new car.
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Exterior Design of new 2016 Ford Focus RS
All the previous RS models have been very sophisticated regarding exterior features, and the latest one continues this great tradition. Being an RS means to have a nearly rally-like body that is ready to hit the road and showroom to boast the beauty of the design. The automaker’s solutions for the front end, for example, resemble the speed-favoring aspirations of the designers because it features a large trapezoidal grille. It is added with a splitter that reveals the intercooler by extending far down. On each side of the front, in the lower segment, there are large outboard openings responsible for feeding the air to cool the brakes and housing a couple of fog lamps that reminded us a little bit about Kia Pro’Ceed.
The first thing that comes to mind when viewing the profile of the vehicle is the similarity with the previous models. The wheel arches are wide, perhaps to make them suitable for housing the 19-inch alloy wheels available for the model in an exclusive design. Overall, the profile design is sporty and aggressive, which is all we have been asking for. A large aerodynamic diffuser dominates the rear end of this RS and helps it to produce more downforce and optimize airflow. It is flanked by identical exhaust openings on both sides, while a rear roof spoiler completes the design.
The vehicle looks like it is ready for a serious rally challenge in terms of the exterior and you will not be wrong if you take it for a quick spin on unpaved road.
The cabin also resembles the sports aspirations of designers and contains a number of racing-like features. First and foremost, we find that a flat-bottomed steering wheel was added for better handling on the road; second the seats are specifically designed for racing: they are made by Recaro, a well-known German manufacturer of sport-style seats for mainstream automakers. According to the company’s statement, special Recaro seats will be available in limited markets, including European and Asian. They will be made from sophisticated materials and covered in authentic motorsport microfiber fabric panels. The other elements of the sports package include alloy pedals, new shifter, and additional instrument cluster; the latter one is especially great for racing fans because it shows the essential ride information, such as oil pressure, boost pressure, and oil temperature.
As expected, the vehicle supports the latest Ford’s infotainment system SYNC, which is very functional and can be controlled by using voice or touch interface on the 8-inch display. Ford representatives said that the system would also help the owner with racing thanks to its navigation system that locates the nearest public track.
That’s the part we all have been waiting for because of the ambitious Ford’s plans to deliver an impressive performance. Indeed, the automaker offered: RS will be equipped with the turbocharged 2.3-liter inline four EcoBoost beast found in the last year’s Mustang. However, leaving the same engine without any advancement was not on Ford’s agenda: it will be tuned to produce 345 horsepower and 324 lb-ft of torque. Thanks to this beast, the vehicle will reach 60 miles per hour in just 4.7 seconds and top at 165 miles per hour. The North American customers will get even more advancements that increase the power to 350 hp, which is significantly more than any of the closest competitor models from Subaru and Honda. This significant increase in output is provided by the innovative twin-scroll turbocharger that features a larger compressor wheel.
The other good news for RS fans is that it now comes with the all-wheel-drive system, which includes torque vectoring, actuated by brakes. It is supposedly based on the Rear Drive Unit, known to include a couple of clutch packs that act as a limited-slip differential, fully electronically controlled. With this installed we expect it to be one of the most capable vehicles in corners no matter if you take it to a track or dirt roads.
The first RS that came to the US market had a staggering price of $550,000 because it was sold at the Barrett-Jackson auction to direct the money to research of Type 1 diabetes. The latest model, however, is available for slightly more than $36,000 with all delivery costs. There are also a number of optional packages that includes various additional components; for example, the power moonroof and 18-inch winter wheel and tire package will cost for about $895 and $1,990 respectively. Next, the customers can purchase 19-inch Premium Painted Forged Alloy Wheels for $1,395 and add Michelin Cup to that for $595.
The RS will certainly help the American automaker to regain its positions in the performance hatch category because it means business. Racing-life features, powerful engine, additional packages, and innovative solutions with the AWD system will be loved by the customers and can make Ford the winner in the segment. Although we have not seen this one perform yet, it clearly has the setup for it, with the exception of a brake-actuated torque-vectoring system, which can be considered as a slight disadvantage. Even with that, the features look remarkable, so we cannot wait to get our hands on that sports wheel and test the tuned Mustang engine. With coming of Focus RS on the market, Subaru, VW, and Honda certainly got the competition going. We are waiting to see the response from other car industry giants and they rarely disappoint us.