Known to most simply as ‘Cossie’, the Escort RS Cosworth is, in many ways, the forebear on which the current Focus RS is based – if not via direct componentry, but in ethos.
With all-paw traction, a boosted, 167kW/298Nm 2.0-litre four-pot and a 0-100km/h time of 6.1 seconds, it wasn’t hanging about in terms of pre-millennium performance, either. Yet, in 1992 the Escort RS Cosworth had massive shoes to fill, those being the Bathurst-conquering, touring car-championship-wining Sierra Cosworth RS.
However, the brief for the Escort was much different. While the Sierra was a commuter hatch that later transformed into a race winner, the permanent AWD Escort was an unadulterated homologation special. Its success as a road car was more of a surprise than a business plan.
The fact it sold in impressive numbers, around 7000 by the end of production in 1996, easily surpassed the initial 2500 units needed for FIA Group A regulations of the time. Unfortunately it was never officially sold Down Under.
Essentially the Escort RS Cosworth’s bulging body was crafted around a cut-and-shut Sierra RS500 platform, with its longitudinally mounted turbo engine being tied to a Borg Warner T5 five-speed manual and sending power to all wheels in a 33/67 split front to rear.
The first batch of 2500 cars are known as the ‘big turbo’ version, given it used a laggy, but tunable Garrett T3/T04B turbo. Once race requirements were met, the ‘small turbo’ version was introduced with the T25 Garrett unit fitted, which added refinement.
However, power and torque dropped to 162kW and 290Nm. Current McLaren designer Frank Stephenson is the man responsible for that iconic whale tail spoiler.
The sad reality of the original hot-hatch defining Cossie is that Ford’s sole, ahem, focus was to win the World Rally Championship – a feat the Escort RS never achieved.
1992 Ford Escort RS Cosworth specs:
Engine: 1993cc inline-4, DOHC, 16v, turbo
Power: 167kW @ 6250rpm
Torque: 298Nm @ 3500rpm
0-100km/h: 6.1sec (claimed)
Price new: $45,000 (new; est)
3 Fast Facts
1. Sting in the Cossie’s tail
Frank Stephenson’s whale tale limits the top speed to 235km/h, but also results in the Cossie being one of the first production cars to produce positive downforce
2. Force-fed four rules the roost
Blue cam covers signify the YBT engine – or big turbo – while the silver cam covers designate the later YBP donk with the smaller turbo and upgraded engine management system
3. Forest fighter fails to flourish
The Ford Escort RS Cosworth won eight rallies under international Group A regulations and a further two within WRC rules before switching to the Focus in 1999