After images of the hot hatchback leaked online, the 2016 Ford Focus RS has made its official debut ahead of next month’s Geneva Motor Show. As expected, the hottest Focus ever is powered by Ford’s 2.3-liter EcoBoost engine plucked from the 2015 Mustang. The boosted four-banger makes “at least” 320 horsepower and 320 pound-feet of torque in the Focus RS, sending the power through a six-speed manual transmission to an advanced torque-vectoring all-wheel drive system.
The last-generation Focus RS sent power to the front wheels, and that much might have translated to colossal torque steer. But the new RS uses a torque vectoring all-wheel drive system with a special ‘RDU’ (Rear Drive Unit) to distribute power between the two rear wheels, essentially working like a limited slip differential. The new Focus RS can also send 100 percent of its power to one of the rear wheels if needed, and will send power to the outside wheel during heavy cornering to “virtually eliminate understeer,” according to The Blue Oval.
A six-speed manual transmission is the sole gearbox option; shift throws have been shortened and made lighter and sportier to allow for quicker shifts, while the clutch and other transmission components have been replaced with heavier duty ones to cope with the additional power on tap. It’s currently unclear whether Ford will offer an automatic transmission on the 2016 Focus RS.
The Focus chassis was also heavily reworked for the hot RS model, featuring stiffer springs with a higher spring rate, different bushings, more capable anti-roll bars and two-mode suspension dampers with ‘Track’ and ‘Street’ settings. The electric power steering was adjusted to work with the stiffer front suspension setup and now “delivers connected and responsive steering with outstanding feel,” Ford says.
Further adding to the handling capabilities of the Focus RS is an available semi-slick high performance tire, a first for the Focus RS. A standard Michelin Pilot Super Sport serves as the every day tire, while high-performance Sport Cup 2s are offered for use on the track. The rubber wraps standard 19-inch wheels or lightweight 19-inch high performance alloys.
Ford says the enhanced exterior design, which includes a redesigned front fascia, sculpted rocker panels, an aggressive rear diffuser and a hatch-mounted spoiler, delivers additional cooling to the turbo-charged four-cylinder, while enhancing aerodynamic performance. The interior has also received a number of performance-focused updates, including Recaro seats, alloy pedals and a leather-wrapped flat-bottom steering wheel, along with an 8-inch screen with SYNC connectivity, optional park distance control and an optional Sony 10-speaker sound system.
The Focus RS will be available in four colors — Nitrous Blue, Stealth Gray, Absolute Black and Frozen White — when it reaches production later in 2015. Additional details and pricing information should become available following the car’s unveiling at Geneva in March.