Ford Focus RS goes AWD

The new Focus RS is gunning to steal the all-wheel-drive hot hatch crown away from A45 AMG, RS3 Sportback and Golf R.

The third-generation Focus RS, unveiled in Cologne, Germany, overnight ahead of a warts-and-all production reveal at the upcoming Geneva motor show, will add new levels of tech and sophistication to the brute force of its 2009 predecessor.  

Due to go on sale early 2016, the first ‘global’ Focus RS boasts in excess of 235kW and adaptive suspension while name-checking Ken ‘Gymkhana’ Block as part of its American-European development team.

The first-ever, all-paw five-door Focus RS – and the 30th Blue Oval model to wear the RS badge – will be built in Saarlouis, Germany.

Although the direct-injected, all-alloy 2.3-litre turbo four is derived from the Mustang Ecoboost unit, Ford Performance claims the engine has been “significantly upgraded” via a revised cylinder head, a new twin-scroll turbocharger, freer breathing, larger intercooling and other enhancements.  

With its lofty 6800rpm rev limit, it remains to be seem if its 235kW-plus claim comes close to matching rival A45 AMG’s 265kW – using ‘over-boosting’ or not – and Ford has yet to reveal any torque figures, though it’s expected to exceed Mustang’s 433Nm figure.

The Focus RS will be available with a six-speed manual only.  

One of the highlights of the package is that, unlike some European all-paw rivals, the newly developed Ford Performance All Wheel Drive with Torque Vectoring system offers up to 70-percent rear axle torque bias.

Via twin clutch packs either side of the rear differential, a control unit and continuously vary front-to-rear torque and channel as much as 100 percent of torque to either side of the rear axle, using 100 calculations per second.

It’s claimed that the Focus RS can generate in excess of 1G of cornering load, while also offering “the ability to achieve controlled oversteer drifts” if desired.

As expected, the RS suspension has uprated springs, bushes and anti-roll bar compared to that of the Focus ST, offers selective damping and features upgraded front knuckle and shorter link arm hardware.

Sat on 19-inch wheels, there will be an option of Michelin’s Pilot Super Sport or track-friendly Pilot Sport Cup 2 tyres available in some markets where the car is due to sold.

Like its predecessor, the new steed gets ‘RS Recaro shell’ seating plus a host of richer appointments than the rather bare-boned generation-two version, which sold in Oz in limited numbers for $59,990.

Pricing will be confirmed closer to the Focus RS’s first-quarter 2016 launch.

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