We learned in mid-December that the Ford Focus RS would be heading to America, much to the delight of auto enthusiasts from coast to coast. Up until this point, the “hottest” Ford hatch available to U.S. customers has been the Focus ST which sends 252hp and 270 ft-lbs of torque to the front wheels.
Today, we get our first official look at the all-new Focus RS and while it doesn’t quite reach the crazy 350hp figures that were rumored earlier, it’s still an impressive beast. A 2.3-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder engine that will produce “well in excess of 315 horsepower” powers the Focus RS. The engine can rev to 6,800 rpm and comes with Ford’s fuel efficiency-minded Auto Start-Stop system as standard equipment. And for those of you that thumb your nose at the proliferation of dual-clutch transmissions in today’s performance vehicles, you’ll be glad to know that the Focus RS uses a traditional six-speed manual transmission.
More importantly, rather than simply channeling all of that power through the front wheels, the Focus RS will come equipped with all-wheel-drive. And this isn’t just any old AWD system; there are two electronically-controlled clutch packs at the rear axle — one for each wheel. These clutch packs control the front/rear torque split and also manage side-to-side torque distribution. Depending on driving conditions, up to 70 percent of engine torque can be sent to the rear wheels (and up to 100 percent of that torque can be sent to either rear wheel).
As for the styling of the Focus RS, it’s definitely been “beefed up” compared to its lesser Focus ST sibling. Although the rear wing looks like something that would be more at home on a Subaru Impreza WRX STI, the overall look is both menacing and purposeful. 19-inch wheels fill the fenders and aggressive side sills and rear valance panel help to balance out the Focus RS’ design.
“The all-new Focus RS is a serious machine with high-performance technology and innovative engineering that sets a new benchmark for driving exhilaration on the road and track,” said Raj Nair, group vice president of Global Product Development for Ford. “The RS line has a proud history of technical breakthroughs that have migrated to mainstream Ford vehicles to benefit all of our customers, and the new Focus RS is no exception. It’s a great example of our passion for innovation through performance, and creating vehicles that make people’s hearts pound.”
We have no official word yet on performance, pricing, or availability but expect the Focus RS to dash to 60 mph in less than five seconds, feature a base price of below $40,000 and to launch in the U.S. sometime next year.