Auto News for Feb. 3 (There’s more to come)

FordFocusRS_01 FordFocusRS_03 FordFocusRS_04

Ford took the wraps off a new high performance Focus RS this morning at its European Headquarters plant in Cologne, Germany. And the best news is that this high performance hatch will be coming to these shores.

Under the hood will be an EcoBoost 2.3-liter four with more than 315 horsepower with exact power output to be released later. That compares to 252 horsepower in the current ST. Torque figures were not immediately available.

Ford said the 2.3 with twin-scroll turbocharger shares its “fundamental structure” with the EcoBoost four offered in the new Mustang, but that it has “been significantly upgraded.”

To keep all that power under control, the RS will be all-wheel drive with what Ford calls “Dynamic Torque Vectoring Control.” The AWD will feature twin electronically controlled clutch packs on each side of the rear drive unit that manage the front/rear torque split and can control side-to-side distribution on the rear axle. A maximum of 70 percent of the drive torque can be diverted to the rear axle with the total package “virtually eliminating understeering” according to Ford officials.

In testing the RS has returned better than 1.0g on the skid pad and three different styles of Michelin tires will be offered. For those who like to let it all hang out on the track, the RS is capable to doing controlled drifting, a trait amply displayed in a video of a hot ride around the Cologne facility. The exhaust produces the “burbles and crackles” of previously RS models.

All the power is fed through a six speed manual (!) transmission has a shorter gear lever and is upgraded with stronger components to deal with the increased torque.

The suspension is stiffer than the ST with two mode switchable dampers, which offer a still firmer ride on the track.

Inside is an 8-inch color screen, flat bottomed steering wheel and a new bank of gauges above the center console showing turbo boost, oil temp and oil pressure.

Heavily bolstered partially leather clad Recaro sport seats should keep drivers in place during more, shall we say spirited operation. Not that you would ever turn it on, but a Sony sound system is available with ten speakers and subwoofer.

The third generation RS is the first of its type to be offered in the U.S., but exactly when was not clear. Ford insists that it will be at home at the track and in every day errand running and commuting. It should be a lot of fun.

We will update this column on today’s auto sales figures and other news shortly.

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