This is especially true now that—as predicted—an all-wheel-drive system has been fitted to the car, as opposed to the front-wheel-drive setup of the previous model. This should help separate the new Focus RS from the front-wheel-drive Focus ST, as well as offer performance that’s either on par with, or superior to, Volkswagen’s Golf R. For the front-wheel-drive fanatics, there’s still the Honda Civic Type R to look forward to.
Performance technologies include a pair of electronically controlled clutch packs that work a bit like a limited-slip differential. They uses sensors that monitor conditions 100 times per second to distribute torque continuously between the front and rear axles, and between the left and right sides of the vehicle. A maximum of 70 percent of the drive torque can be diverted to the rear axle, and up to 100 percent of available torque at the rear axle can be sent to each rear wheel.
To upgrade the suspension, engineers have installed stiffer spring rates, bushes and anti-roll bars plus a set of adjustable dampers with road and track settings. The wheels measure 19 inches across and come wrapped in either Michelin Pilot Super Sport 235/35 tires or semi-slick Pilot Sport Cup 2 for track use, and a conventional six-speed manual has been confirmed.
Finally, a carefully tuned electric power-assisted steering system, working in combination with a more rigid front suspension knuckle design and shorter link arms, is said to improve steering response and feedback. U.S. specs will be announced closer to the car’s sales launch.
The differences between the new Focus RS and its predecessor don’t end with the engine and drivetrain. While the last Focus RS came in three-door guise only, the new Focus RS comes as a five-door, which makes sense since Ford doesn’t build a three-door version of its latest Focus compact. The aggressive look of the previous model has carried over, though, and includes gaping intakes up front, chunky side sills, a large rear spoiler, and a rear bumper integrating dual-exhaust tips and a diffuser.
Inside, you’ll find Recaro bucket seats up front, a flat-bottomed steering wheel with leather trim, alloy pedals and a standard 8.0-inch touchscreen with Ford’s Sync interface. An additional bank of gauges above the center console display turbocharger boost pressure, oil temperature and oil pressure. Four colors have been announced: Nitrous Blue, Stealth Gray, Absolute Black or Frozen White.
And just a final bit of trivia, professional rally driver and star of Gymkhana films Ken Block teamed with Ford as a consultant on development of the new Focus RS.
The car makes its world debut at the 2015 Geneva Motor Show, which gets underway March 3. We should see it in local showrooms later this year or early next, listing as a 2016 model. In the meantime, to see what else will be on show in Geneva next month, head to our dedicated show hub.