New for 2009 from Ford of Europe is the Focus RS (Rally Sport), which will be exclusively outfitted from the factory with Continental’s ContiSportContact 3 tires.
The tires, size 235/35 ZR 19, are manufactured at the company’s Otrokovice plant in the Czech Republic. Continental will also be providing Ford with its “exceptionally convenient and lightweight” ContiMobilityKit runflat system designed to swiftly restore mobility after a tire failure.
“The ContiSportContact 3 tire truly meets the car’s requirements,” says Lars Frick, automotive engineer for Ford tires at Continental. “The Ford Focus RS needs tires that support its sporty driving dynamics and transmit the performance of the very high-torque engine efficiently to the road,” he points out.
“However, the emphasis was on safe driving characteristics and short braking distances, even on wet asphalt,” Frick adds. “At the same time, Ford expected the tires to be sporty in design, and they have performed very well in the driving dynamics tests carried out on the legendary North Loop of the Nürburgring.”
“We want the new Focus RS to be a serious high performance car – as much a car for driving enthusiasts as the one before it and classic Ford RS models of the past,” says Jost Capito, Ford/Europe’s vehicle line director for performance vehicles. “We’re staying true to the core RS principles of an exciting, yet affordable performance road car you can live with every day.”
Under the hood is a specially developed, turbocharged version of the Duratec 2.5-litre 5-cylinder engine revised for high performance with enhanced camshafts, a revised cylinder head and gasket plus an improved intake and exhaust manifold system.
Produced in Germany, the car is finished in a special bright green paint with inlaid metallic flake, a striking, modern interpretation of the 1970s Le Mans Green of the Escort RS1600 era, he notes.
This vibrant exterior color is contrasted with a number of performance styling details highlighted in gloss “piano black,” including the strip at the leading edge of the hood, the deep housings for the integrated front fog lamps and door mirrors with integrated side indicators.
Front and rear quarter panels have been revised to incorporate wider wheel arches and a wider track, complemented by revised, deeper side rocker moldings. Triangular RS-badged vents sit behind the front wheel arches with two classic-style hood louvers serving as “a styling hint at the power beneath” while maintaining correct system temperatures.
The front bumper design incorporates a deep front air-dam with a large, mesh lower grille in an extended trapezoid. “Stylish and practical, this prominent feature represents the latest Ford ‘kinetic design’ face and also is finished in piano black. “Above, chromed xenon headlamps stand out like cat’s eyes and are framed by matt-black housings with unique additional vents running underneath,” says Capito.
A deep rear bumper incorporates a large venturi tunnel to its lower edge with small vents at each corner, emphasizing the car’s width. Two chromed tailpipes augment the desired look.
A twin-element, black rear spoiler sits at the roofline, echoing both RS models of the past and the World Rally-winning Focus WRC that has been the car’s inspiration.
“We believe it’s vitally important that a Focus RS looks like both a Focus and an RS – it needs to be individual, distinctive and overt in its performance styling, but it also needs to show a clear progression from and relationship to Focus ST,” says Stefan Lamm, chief exterior designer.
Inside, “this theme continues with a unique and appropriately performance-oriented interior, dominated by bespoke, sculpted Recaro high-performance sports seats, specially designed and trimmed for excellent support, even when driving enthusiastically,” Capito says. Each is color-matched to the exterior, with ebony leather accents and ‘RS’ and ‘Recaro’ logos stitched into each backrest.
A sporty, three-spoke steering wheel finished with Ford and RS logos is graced by aluminum foot pedals.
The car is equipped with a front suspension system known as a “RevoKnuckle,” which is designed to reduce unwanted steering disturbance and torque steer, described as the impact of torque on steering in front-wheel driven vehicles. Torque steer occurs during hard acceleration, cornering or driving on uneven surfaces when torque on the driven wheels exceeds grip levels.
The RevoKnuckle works in conjunction with a Quaife Automatic Torque Biasing limited-slip differential. It allows the simplicity of a traditional McPherson strut arrangement, but with settings that minimize steering disturbances and torque steer.
“The Ford Focus is an excellent base for a high performance car – agile, responsive and stable,” Capito explains.