The onetime top-selling car in the world will also now be among the fastest. Ford announced this week that the first U.S. offering of the Ford Focus RS will arrive next spring for the 2016 model year with a vengeance — boasting a 4.7-second zero-to-62-mph sprint and top speed of 165 mph. Those specs come courtesy of the performance-oriented RS' 2.3-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder engine, which cranks out an estimated 350 horsepower and as many pounds-feet of torque, channeled through the Ford Performance all-wheel-drive system and unleashed with the help of new launch-control tech.
The Focus will be the first RS model to feature launch control, Ford said. "The driver selects launch control from the cluster menu, engages first gear, applies full throttle and releases the clutch," the automaker explained in a statement. "The system then delivers optimum drive — including distributing torque through the all-wheel-drive system, maintaining maximum torque using the turbo overboost function, managing traction control and setting the dampers."
A light in the instrument cluster alerts the driver of the best time to upshift, and flashes a warning if the engine hits max rpm. Four driver-selectable modes — Normal, Sport, Track and Drift — elicit different performance responses and exhaust notes for different milieus, from the road to the track.
The RS' EcoBoost engine is based on the one in the latest Mustang, with a reported 10 percent increase in power. The fastest Focus is roughly a second slower to 60 mph than the current fastest-estimated Mustang, the naturally aspirated 2016 Shelby GT350R; then again, it's also roughly $12,000 cheaper at a starting price of around $37,000. The Focus RS is projected to be nearly 100 hp more powerful than the current fastest performance Focus, the ST, whose 2.0-liter four-cylinder makes 252 hp.