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2016 Ford Focus RS




I can't believe we are getting another performance vehicle from +Ford so soon. Everyone was expecting a Focus RS but I didn't think we would see it this soon. To recap, over the last few months, Ford's lineup has gained many options for a gear head. The Mustang gained a new engine option, the 2.3L EcoBoost to bridge the gap between the V6 and the GT. The GT350 name returned with a flat-plane crank making more than 500 naturally aspirated horsepower from a 5.2L V8. Then a GT350R was revealed, a more hardcore track version of the car. The legendary Ford GT came back to, once again, take on Ferrari and a new F150 Raptor was revealed on the opposite end of the performance spectrum. Now, we have another one. A step up from the Focus ST that, according to Ford, without worry about stepping on the toes of the Mustang.

Ford said this will be the most powerful Focus, with "well in excess of 315 horsepower." If that includes the limited edition RS500, which made 345 hp, This should make as close as makes no difference to the 350 hp that has been rumoured. If it's not included, I would imagine well in excess of should mean at least 20 hp so we should still be close to the 350 hp mark.




To put all that power down, Ford gave this car a torque vectoring all wheel drive system, dubbed Ford Performance All Wheel Drive (FPAWD?). The system is based on twin electronically controlled clutch packs that manage the car's front-to-rear torque split. The unit can send up to 70% of the drive to the rear wheels. There is no mention of the maximum amount of torque is sent to the front wheels. If I had to guess, I would say that all the torque can be sent to the front wheels if there is loss of traction and one or more of the stability/traction control settings should always send some of the torque to the rear.

Speaking of stability control, Ford calibrated the Electronic Stability Control system, particularly the brake-based Torque Vectoring Control system, to work in parallel with the torque vectoring AWD system. It appears that the front wheels rely on only brake-based torque vectoring while the rear wheels rely on both brake-based torque vectoring as well as the drive-unit. The drive unit can vary the torque at the rear wheels side-to-side, with up to 100% of the torque sent to the rear wheels sent to either wheel.




The control unit for the system is capable of monitoring inputs from multiple sensors, such as steering wheel angle, lateral acceleration, yaw and speed, 100 times per second. The system will preemptively divert torque to the outer rear wheel in a corner immediately based on inputs from these sensors. Ford says, understeer is virtually eliminated and turn-in and stability are improved. The Focus ST is already one of the best handling FWD cars on the road. Sending some of the power to the back along with torque vectoring can only make things better.

Other chassis improvements include stiffer springs, bushings and antiroll bars compared to the Focus ST and two-mode switchable dampers. A re-tuned power steering system combined with a more rigid front suspension knuckle design and shorter link arms all in the name of improving steering response and feel. All these improvements, combined with the intelligent AWD system, result in lateral acceleration exceeding 1 g. In the release, Ford made sure to point out that the car has the "ability to achieve controlled oversteer drifts at the track." Thank you, Ford.

To improve stability and and handling at speed, the exterior has been optimized through the front splitter, rear spoiler and diffuser and underbody features to deliver zero lift front and rear. To make sure the car sticks to the road, Ford is offering, for the first time on an RS, optional Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires for track-ready grip. Standard tires are the excellent all-around Pilot Super Sport tires. Both come as 235/35/19 tires and optional light-weight forged alloy wheels are available.




Ford wanted to make sure the car can handle track duty so the outside has been optimized to deliver cooling air to the engine. The radiator is "significantly larger." The intercooler is "much bigger."  The brakes are fitted with brake cooling ducts. The transmission and clutch have been upgraded with stronger components. Ford really seems to have all the bases covered. The fact that Ford is offering a Michelin Cup tire on an AWD car fitted with a torquey turbocharged engine shows just how much abuse the car is designed to take.

Speaking of the engine, the 2.3L engine shares the block with the Mustang but significant upgrades support the increased power. A new twin-scroll turbo with a larger compressor wheel increases airflow, which is also aided by less restrictive intake and exhaust systems. The exhaust also features an electronically controlled valve that "helps optimize the balance of back pressure and noise output." Typically, such exhaust valves stay closed for quiet operation under light load and open at a certain rpm. To handle the added power, an upgraded alloy is used for the cylinder head to withstand higher temperatures which is also mounted on a head gasket with improved thermal capability. Inside, the cylinder block features stronger high-tensile cast iron liners.

As is now expected from Ford in high performance models, you'll find heavily bolstered Recaro seats inside that are bound to be comfortable as well as supportive. Controlling all the horses will come courtesy of, thankfully, a six-speed manual transmission with a short-throw shifter. Awesome.

This is bound to be a phenomenal performance machine. My only worry is price. I can imagine this starting well into $30,000's (USD), but that would step on the Mustang GT. I think if it starts under $35,000, it'll be very reasonable. Only time will tell. For now, I can just hope that I will get drive it some time soon, especially on the track.


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