Fast Ford fans are in for a treat like never before.
The production line has started to roll on the new generation Ford Focus RS and heralds an onslaught that will see no less than12 performance models launched by the brand in the next five years.
Leading the way is the Focus RS, the fastest RS – Rallye Sport – model yet and a car that pioneers Ford’s new Performance All Wheel Drive set-up.
Beneath the bonnet is a specially engineered version of the 2.3-litre EcoBoost petrol engine in the Mustang muscle car, but with an added kick of 39bhp which takes its overall wallop to 345bhp.
And while its headline figures of 0-62 in 4.7 seconds and 165mph top speed are fractionally slower than red-hot rivals like the Audi RS3 and Mercedes AMG A45, it costs a full £10,000 less.
It also comes with a slick six-speed manual gearbox and is the first Ford RS model to be equipped with selectable Drive Modes, including something called Drift Mode – and Launch Control.
The AWD system has been tuned by Ford engineers to deliver exceptional grip and the best cornering speed and acceleration out of bends.
With neutral and adjustable limit handling, and the ability to achieve controlled oversteer drifts at the track, the promise is to deliver ‘the ultimate fun-to-drive experience’.
Exclusive chassis features include sports suspension with stiffer spring rates and more efficient anti-roll-bars than those found in the Focus ST, plus two-mode switchable dampers, which offer a 40 per cent firmer Sport setting.
The four different Drive Modes configure the Ford for optimum performance in a range of driving conditions – with Normal or Sport settings for on-road driving, and Track or Drift for circuit use only.
Each is selected via a switch alongside the gear lever and has specific settings for the AWD system, damper controls, Electronic Stability Control system, steering and engine responses and exhaust valve.
Buyers also get the most powerful brake system ever fitted to an RS model, with 350mm ventilated front discs and aluminium Brembo callipers – painted in distinctive RS blue.
There’s a choice of multi-spoke 19-inch RS alloy wheels, including a high-performance lightweight forged design finished in low-gloss black and five exterior colours include Stealth Grey, Shadow Black, Magnetic Grey, Frozen White and the exclusive metallic Nitrous Blue.
Standard Bi-Xenon HID headlamps feature Adaptive Front Lighting, which adjusts the intensity and angle of the headlamp beams according to speed, steering angle and distance, while there’s also the option of Active City Stop auto braking, which operates at up to 31mph.