2016 Ford Focus RS Preview
- First time offered in America
- Turbocharged, 2.3-liter, EcoBoost 4-cylinder engine
- Strengthened 6-speed manual gearbox
- Torque-vectoring AWD
- Performance suspension, steering, brakes
- Zero-lift aerodynamics
- Sync connectivity
- Available navigation, Sony premium sound
- Rally driver Ken Block consulted on car's tuning
- Built in Germany
Ford focuses on performance with the introduction of the 2016 Focus RS (Rallye Sport), the third-generation of the automaker's "hot hatch," and has announced that this model will be available for the first time in the U.S. market.
The fourth in a string of fast and fun vehicles that Ford has debuted since the start of 2015, the Focus RS is equipped with a turbocharged 4-cylinder engine, torque-vectoring all-wheel drive (AWD), and a thorough rework of other mechanical components in order to deliver optimum performance.
According to Raj Nair, group vice president of global product development for Ford Motor Company, the new Focus RS "sets a new benchmark for driving exhilaration on the road and track."
Functional styling changes are designed to maximize engine and brake cooling capacity, while revised aerodynamics produce zero lift at the front and rear of the Focus RS, Ford says.
Highlights include wide grille openings, functional brake cooling ducts, a big rear roof spoiler, large rear diffuser panel, and oversized round exhaust outlets. The Focus RS sits on multi-spoke 19-in. aluminum wheels, and buyers can opt for lightweight, forged aluminum wheels painted low-gloss black.
Four exterior paint colors will be available for the new Focus RS, including Nitrous Blue, Stealth Gray, Absolute Black, and Frozen White. The Liquid Blue shown on the debut car, which matches the paint on other recently introduced Ford performance models, is not planned for production.
Purposeful modifications to the Focus RS's interior include partial-leather Recaro performance seats, flat-bottom steering wheel wrapped in leather, and alloy pedals. Unique instrumentation is also standard, and includes additional gauges for measuring turbocharger boost, oil pressure, and oil temperature.
Under the Hood
Ford installs a turbocharged and direct-injection, 2.3-liter, EcoBoost 4-cylinder engine in the Focus RS, and says it produces "well in excess of 315 horsepower." This is an upgraded version of the engine offered in the Mustang, modified for duty in the Focus RS.
Changes include cylinder heads constructed of upgraded aluminum alloy and a strengthened cylinder block, a new low-inertial twin-scroll turbocharger, bigger intercooler, less restrictive intakes, and a high-performance exhaust system.
To this, Ford matches a more robust 6-speed manual gearbox with a strengthened clutch and a shorter gear lever to facilitate quicker shifts and shorter throws. The powertrain also features automatic start/stop technology designed to provide an incremental gain in fuel efficiency.
With the arrival of the Focus RS, Ford debuts a new Performance All-Wheel Drive system featuring Dynamic Torque Vectoring Control, in which up to 70% of the engine's torque can be sent to the car's rear wheels. The system automatically varies the torque split between rear wheels to improve handling and cornering, and Ford says that up to 100% of available rear axle torque can be delivered to a single rear wheel based on steering angle, lateral acceleration, yaw rate, and vehicle speed.
The result, according to Ford, is that the system "drives" the car into a curve or corner, improving turn-in, stability, and virtually eliminating understeer. In Ford testing, the Focus RS has exceeded 1g of lateral acceleration while cornering. Also, the system is tuned to deliver what Ford characterizes as "controlled oversteer drifts" when driving on a track.
Additional Focus RS upgrades include a sport suspension, dual-mode damper control, revised electric steering, and P235/35R19 performance tires. Ford will offer a factory-installed, track-ready tire compound as an option.
Aside from reporting that the Focus RS will be available with a reversing camera and park-assist sensors, Ford has not specified what types of safety technology will be available for this model.
The Focus RS will have Sync Bluetooth connectivity with an 8-in. color touch-screen infotainment system, and the automaker has confirmed that both a navigation system and a premium audio system will be optional.