Ford Focus RS the first pictures

Published: 04 July 2008

The wait is over. Ford today officially took the wraps off its new Focus RS – the hottest hatch on the planet, judging by the first official details. We'll see the new fast Ford at the 2008 London motor show, but the first customer cars won't arrive until spring 2009.

If you thought the original Focus RS was a hard-nosed, uncompromising hot hatch, the second-gen Focus RS should surely qualify for an ASBO court order. It puts 300ps (296bhp) through the front wheels to make it one of the fastest - and most frenetic - hatches around.

Ford Focus RS: 296bhp and shredded tyres, right?

It does sound that way, doesn't it. But Ford insists that its chassis mods have tamed the turbocharged thrust from the Volvo-derived, Duratec 2.5-litre five-pot that also powers the regular Focus ST.

You could argue that 300bhp is too much, or that Ford should have fitted four-wheel drive to the fastest Focus, but instead it's developed a raft of traction enhancing gizmos to stop the front wheels burning more rubber than Max Mosley and actually put some of that 302lb ft of torque to the road.

Click 'Next' to read more of the technical details of the Ford Focus RS (2009)

A Volvo engine? In the Ford Focus RS?

You bet. We've already come to love the thrummy nature of the five-pot Duratec engine in the ST, although it can feel a touch languid compared with more manic rivals like the Honda Civic Type-R and VW Golf GTI. But the RS engineers have given it a serious makeover, with unique camshafts, a revised cylinder head and different intake and exhaust manifolds.

End result? This 2.5 five-cylinder breathes more easily, all the better to force more air and fuel in through a harder-blowing turbo. Ford is cagey about final performance figures, but claims the benchmark 0-62mph will take 'less than six seconds.'

It's hardly your average shopping Focus 1.6, then...

And what about this Quaife diff and all that gubbins?

Ah yes. The 2009 Ford Focus RS does indeed have an automatic torque-biasing limited-slip diff from Quaife. It stops either front tyre getting too carried away with pirouetting away in a smokey catherine wheel style at every damp junction - and works with the weirdly named RevoKnuckle front suspension.

Don't call for an osteopath; the RevoKnuckle is a new system built into the front MacPherson strut suspension, that allows geometry designed to trim the effects of torque steer (a complaint that blighted the old, much less powerful Focus RS Mk1).

If we're being vague about the full details of RevoKnuckle, it's because Ford hasn't yet announced the full workings. Expect more detail at the London motor show 2008.

'We gave all-wheel drive careful consideration,' admits Jost Capito, Ford's god of all things high-powered and RS. 'But by combining and tuning [the diff and suspension] we have managed to eliminate the weight of AWD and have still been able to target a class-leading balance of traction, handling and performance.'

Click 'Next' to read about the design and makeover for the Focus RS (2009)

The new Focus RS is, er, a bit green...

You certainly won't miss the new Focus RS; the car shown here, and indeed the launch colour for the car, is a modern interpretation of the 1970s Le Mans Green of the Escort RS1600 era. To you and me, that's a lime green that's pretty eye-shocking and, in a commercial age, carries a lot of baggage from BP, Ford's preferred lubes supplier (seen those stickers in the fuel flap of any modern Ford? Exactly).

But look beyond the Kermit green, and you'll spot some serious bodywork that's different on this top-dog Focus. The front and rear panels are new, to liberate a wider track and blistered wheel arches. It looks mean, squat and wedgy. It's lower than an ST, too.

And don't let any pedestrians anywhere near that gaping grille; the black snout is very distinctive indeed and surely sets some kind of production record. Maybe Ford is showing Audi (whence many of its designers came) that it too can do big gobs.

And are those air vents for real on the RS?

Sort of. The twin bonnet louvres help cool the highly strung lump underneath, while there are RS-badged vents behind the front wheel arches. Ford calls them 'a visual reminder of the car's performance potential'. We suspect the marketing bods had a hand in some of the wilder styling excesses of the RS then...

But don't get the impression the new Focus RS is all about show. That rear diffuser and WRC-inspired wing (matt black again) are pretty serious and the guys at Team RS vow they're purely functional.

Independent drivers who's piloted prototypes claim that this car is very rapid and very serious indeed - a contender for the most extreme hot hatch of all time, no less...

And inside the new Ford Focus RS?

Yep - more green. Shrek would be comfortable in here - the sculpted, high-winged Recaros are trimmed in the lime green hue, with leather accents and RS logos galore. Oh, and you will be able to pick other colours, so let's dispense with the green gags.

The six-speed gearshift is revised, the three-spoke wheel has new RS trim and the pedals are aluminium. It's sports central in here.

Is there anything that hasn't been upgraded in conversion from ST to RS?

There's plenty of commonality, for sure (the RS comes off the regular Focus production line at Saarlouis in Germany), but the changes from LX to RS are pretty considerable. The track is 40mm wider, the springs and dampers are new, the steering heavily revised and the brakes now span 336mm. We could go on, but you get the idea.

They nestle within large 19in alloy wheels, wrapped in 235/35 liqorice-thin Continental tyres. Just as well you can turn the ESP fully off, should you require some brave-pill action or want to test your wits.

That's exactly what CAR will be doing later this year, so keep tuned for our first drive review of the Focus RS this winter.

Come back to CAR Online in the next few weeks as we build up to the London motor show 2008. We'll have full previews, reviews and video action from the show

And inside the new Ford Focus RS?

Yep - more green. Shrek would be comfortable in here - the sculpted, high-winged Recaros are trimmed in the lime green hue, with leather accents and RS logos galore. Oh, and you will be able to pick other colours, so let's dispense with the green gags.

The six-speed gearshift is revised, the three-spoke wheel has new RS trim and the pedals are aluminium. It's sports central in here.

Is there anything that hasn't been upgraded in conversion from ST to RS?

There's plenty of commonality, for sure (the RS comes off the regular Focus production line at Saarlouis in Germany), but the changes from LX to RS are pretty considerable. The track is 40mm wider, the springs and dampers are new, the steering heavily revised and the brakes now span 336mm. We could go on, but you get the idea.

They nestle within large 19in alloy wheels, wrapped in 235/35 liqorice-thin Continental tyres. Just as well you can turn the ESP fully off, should you require some brave-pill action or want to test your wits.

That's exactly what CAR will be doing later this year, so keep tuned for our first drive review of the Focus RS this winter.

Come back to CAR Online in the next few weeks as we build up to the London motor show 2008. We'll have full previews, reviews and video action from the show

By Tim Pollard

Editorial director of CAR's digital publishing arm. Motoring news magnet

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