Focus RS Genesis,

"This is a serious machine, with the performance, traction and precision to match far more exotic sports cars. The RS badge is not something we treat lightly and I believe this car proves it."

Jost Capito, Director, Global Performance Vehicles & Motorsport Business Development.

In the 40-year story of Ford RS, the marque has been applied sparingly, merited by only the most high-performance Ford machines of the time.

Six years have passed since the last Ford RS - the Mk1 Focus RS - finished its strictly limited production run. Now the famous badge has returned for its league of devoted fans and a new generation of performance car enthusiasts.

RS - A Significant Event

This new Focus RS is the product of Ford Team RS, headed by Jost Capito, a committed car enthusiast and racer. Alongside Capito is a small team of dedicated performance car and motorsport engineering specialists, led by Chief Programme Engineer, John Wheeler, whose own expertise stretches over 20 years of Ford performance and motorsport vehicles.

Team RS works hand-in-hand with Ford of Europe experts from across the engineering spectrum to create Ford's performance road car range. More than 100 engineers have been involved in Focus RS and every one understood the weight of expectation that greets a new Ford RS model.

States Capito: "A new Ford RS is a significant event; the badge is not applied to a new car very often and when it is, it has to be a great car. I know this Focus RS will be thoroughly deserving of the name."

From early in its development programme, the team set a target to create a car with the poise, power, performance and precision to trade lap times with far more exotic vehicles and be a benchmark for performance and value for money.

Their result is a car capable of lapping the legendary 20.8km (12.3 mile) Nuerburgring Nordschleife repeatedly at speed and equally adept at cruising home afterwards; blending Ford Focus practicality with bespoke engineering, dynamics and a turbocharged, 305PS (300 bhp) 2.5-litre Duratec engine.

Starting Point

Defining performance parameters of the new Focus RS began before the last Mk1 Focus RS left the production line. Perhaps surprisingly, that work didn't involve the name ‘RS' at all, for the group was concentrating then on fine tuning the latest Focus ST model.

"In developing Focus ST, we reached 225PS and 320Nm torque with the 2.5-litre Duratec and the outstanding Focus chassis handled it comfortably. This was already 10PS more than the previous Focus RS. ST re-framed what we and our customers could expect of a new RS and it became an excellent development base," explains John Wheeler.

The team's other benchmark was the previous-generation Focus RS, and here their own opinions and analysis was augmented by the views of owners.

"We're in regular contact with RS owners and enthusiasts across Europe and their views helped shape our own. The previous Focus RS was created to give that limited edition, ‘World Rally car for the road' feel, which made it an extreme experience. We didn't just want to repeat that formula for new Focus RS and the views and requirements of RS fans were incredibly helpful in creating this car's everyday side," Wheeler continues.

The result was a short but complicated set of priorities: the pace and performance feel of the previous RS, but with even more power and greater stability; durable circuit performance, but with greater comfort for everyday driving.

Research work began in earnest, while the timing for introducing the high-performance model was considered. By 2008, Ford of Europe's flexible manufacturing strategy had created the ability to build low volume vehicles efficiently and there were several key milestones to mark.

"Our flexible manufacturing and the use of shared commodities really helps to produce vehicles like Focus RS, without having to make large manufacturing investments or build off-line," adds Capito.

"The 2009 production start for Focus RS has marked the 10th anniversary of Ford Focus and 40 years of Ford RS, backed by two consecutive World Rally Manufacturers' Championship titles. Combined, these factors make the creation of the new Focus RS very appropriate," he continues.

A Class Apart

Thanks to intensive engineering development from an already high starting point, the new Focus RS will not just be the fastest current Focus model when it goes on sale in early 2009; it will be the fastest and the most powerful front-wheel-drive European Ford ever.

Focus RS is also the only front-wheel-drive, 300+ PS high-performance car available today, an indication of the challenge of creating such a vehicle and the achievements of Ford Team RS in doing so.

"Historically, RS models have been very different in their approaches. Our strategy was to define and create a new RS, with all the characteristics we wanted to see in it, rather than develop a car to compete with anything else already in the market," says Wheeler.

With the go-ahead to create a new Focus RS, Team RS had already created an impressive benchmark and base in the new Focus ST, so early effort was directed on setting the two cars apart.

Dolphin and Shark

From NVH to design, powertrain to safety, Ford specialists from across the engineering spectrum were involved with Focus RS, needing to understand quickly its requirements and attributes and the differences in philosophy between the ‘ST' and ‘RS' brands.

To illustrate the fundamental differences of approach between an ST and an RS, the Team RS engineers created the analogy of ‘Dolphin and Shark'.

Capito explains: "ST and RS should be different animals, as are a dolphin and a shark. Both are highly developed for their roles but have unique characteristics - ST is a balance of performance and refinement, but would not fit the attributes we set for RS and vice versa. It's surprising how much we used this analogy."

Those attributes for Focus RS were developed from a definition of "the ultimate production Focus." In keeping with its heritage, RS is an even more performance-oriented vehicle than ST, developed in every detail with on-track performance of equal importance to on-road behaviour. An exhaustive set of individual criteria was created for every aspect of the car's performance, dynamics and durability, a process similar in scope to that required for a whole new carline.

However, for all the differences, there is one area of common ground between Focus ST and RS. Both are front-wheel-drive, one of the first decisions taken in the development of RS and explained by Team RS Chief Engineer, Dirk Densing:

"Front-wheel-drive was our preference all along. All-wheel-drive systems add cost, weight, inertia and consequently, fuel consumption. Compensating for the significant weight of an all-wheel-drive system requires dynamic compromises we preferred not to make. If you can achieve the performance you want without steering disturbance, then front-wheel-drive is a better performance car - lighter and with a more precise, linear steering response than AWD. With the work of our advanced research team in Aachen, we were able to achieve this and deliver something genuinely different," he says.

Great Focus Heritage

In being both a genuine Ford RS and a full member of the Focus family, the new Focus RS represents a significant moment in the legacy of both brands.

The year 2008 marked 10 years since the Ford Focus was first revealed to the world at the Geneva Motor Show in 1998, paving the way for a range of Ford vehicles whose exciting design was matched by class-leading driving quality.

Since this time, more than 5.5 million Ford Focus models have been built in Europe, including Russia, with the car also built and sold in North America, Asia and South Africa.

Now, the latest generation Focus also wears the famous Ford RS badge with pride, continuing a distinguished heritage that can trace its roots back 40 years and encompasses a wide range of Ford models.

"RS is central to Ford's high-performance heritage and Focus has played a major part in establishing Ford's excellent reputation for driving dynamics. The all-new Focus RS embraces and celebrates both of these - a genuine RS and a genuine Focus," concludes Capito.

Bron: Media Ford

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