The London show car previews the design intent for a final production vehicle, though as development work continues, some final details may change before volume production begins. The vehicle 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.
The vibrant exterior colour is contrasted with a number of performance styling details highlighted in gloss 'piano black', including the strip at the leading edge of the bonnet, 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 mouldings. In another visual reminder of the car's performance potential, triangular, RS-badged vents sit behind the front wheel arches. Two classic-style bonnet louvres are both a styling hint at the power beneath and a practical requirement, maintaining correct system temperatures. The completely new front bumper design for Focus RS incorporates a deep front airdam with a large, mesh lower grille in an extended trapezoid.
At the rear, a deep new rear bumper incorporates a large venturi tunnel to its lower edge with small vents at each corner of the bumper, emphasizing the car's width. Two chromed exhaust tailpipes sit each side of the black venturi, creating a purposeful rear view for the car.
Inside, this theme continues dominated by Recaro sports seats. Each is colour-matched to the exterior, with ebony leather accents and 'RS' and 'Recaro' logos stitched into each backrest. The centre console is finished in a carbon-look trim and metallic highlights abound, from air vents, door grab handles, switchgear and gearshift surround, to unique RS-branded scuff plates on the door sills. These highlights contrast with a black-trimmed roof lining, emphasising the sporty, cockpit feel.
At the heart of the all-new Focus RS is a turbocharged version of the Duratec 2.5-litre 5-cylinder engine. Significantly revised for high performance, this powerplant is targeting an power output of 300PS and over 410Nm of torque. Such significant increases are not simply the result of altering engine management or boost pressure: starting with the Duratec 2.5-litre block, Ford RS engineers developed unique camshafts, a revised cylinder head and gasket and revised intake and exhaust manifold system for the car.
Although the car is still in development, prior to its launch in early 2009, early performance testing indicates a 0-100km/h (0-62mph) time of under six seconds. Various innovations, developed as a result of customer feedback from previous performance Fords, have allowed engineers to keep the new Focus RS as front-wheel drive, with a limited-slip differential, while still achieving demanding targets for traction, handling and steering.
The new Ford Focus RS is equipped with an innovative front suspension system known as a 'RevoKnuckle', which is designed to reduce unwanted steering disturbance and torque steer, 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 grips levels. It is characterised by sudden turning force on the steering wheel and can be exacerbated by vehicles with wide tyres and limited-slip differentials.
In Focus RS, the RevoKnuckle works in conjunction with a Quaife Automatic Torque Biasing limited-slip differential. Ford Team RS engineers have worked closely with Ford's Advanced Research Centre in Aachen, Germany to develop the RevoKnuckle technology specifically for the high performance Focus RS. It allows the simplicity of a traditional McPherson strut arrangement, but with geometry settings that minimize steering disturbances and torque steer, principally a reduction in steering offset.
Driving quality developments for Focus RS include a 40mm wider track, stronger, longer driveshafts, revised springs and dampers and a thicker, longer rear anti-roll bar. At the same time, the steering system has been retuned to provide an even sharper steering response and very precise feedback. Brakes also have been uprated, with 336mm ventilated front discs and 300mm rear discs generating vice-like stopping power on road or track. Large calipers peek out from behind unique 19-inch wheels, wrapped in 235/35 low profile Continental tyres.
A special version of Ford's ESP system has also been developed for Focus RS, designed to allow a very sporty driving style before activating. Intensive work to refine the natural handling abilities of the car has allowed the ESP system to carry a full de-activation option for enthusiast drivers and especially for track use.