Ford may be an American-based car company, but for too long they've kept one of their hottest offerings out of the hands of Americans. No more. Meet the 2016 Ford Focus RS, the 320 horsepower all-wheel drive monster hatch we've been waiting for.
The "normal" Focus ST is one of the best hot hatches around, coming to the table with a 2.0-liter turbo four with 252 horsepower and 270 pound-feet of torque. The Focus RS ups the ante with a 2.3-liter turbo four, sourced from the Mustang EcoBoost, with 'at least' 320 horsepower and 'at least' 320 pound-feet of torque. Yeah, that'll do.
What'll do even more is that the power is linked to a six speed MANUAL gearbox. A gearbox where you can select your own gear. This is wonderful, grand, delightful, excellent news.
Yes, the bestial, machine gun-like five-cylinder engine is good. It will be missed. But the 2.3-liter four is the future of small-displacement EcoBoost power, and it should be great.
Ford also announced the new RS has the one performance feature that hoons have been begging for the most: all-wheel drive. The last RS was front-wheel drive but largely free of crippling torque steer thanks to its RevoKnuckle suspension, but the new one will go full rally-grade with proper four-wheel power. And that's really where it should be these days.
And it's not your regular dumb all-wheel drive. The Focus RS has torque vectoring all-wheel drive that can send up to 70 percent of the drive torque to the rear axle, and 100 percent of that torque can be diverted to one wheel. It monitors conditions between the front and rear continuously in order to establish where all that power goes.
As expected, that AWD system (which was not totally expected), is paired with a revised and upgraded suspension with stiffer springs, sway bars, and adjustable dampers. It has electric power steering, but Ford promises "outstanding feel."
In Europe, the RS will have standard Michelin Pilot Super Sport tires, which is about as sticky as you'd want a road tire to be. As an option you can get the hardcore Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires as well. We better get those here too, for I need to hit the track and immediately ruin as many sets as possible.
Inside, it has some fantastic looking Recaro seats, but I have to say I'm not that impressed by the rest. Especially the steering wheel. It looks like it'd be more at home in a junkyard Festiva than a rally Ford. We'll have to see if it's terrible when we drive it (hint).
Outside, it gets more aggressive than the ST with a big wing, unique wheels, and unique front fascia that kind of looks like a mask. But apparently a lot more of the money was spent making the RS drive fantastically, which is just fine here.
We can't wait to see more as it makes its Geneva Auto Show debut in March and then makes its way to America, as Ford CEO Mark Fields has promised.
Good stuff from Ford these days, huh?
Photos credit Ford