The Ford Focus RS and its ancestors

Rossen Gargolov
The new Ford Focus RS and its ancestors
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N un there is certainly in our profession some cars that touch. But only very few of them grab you. I mean: pack really, so that you have to leave again at night, on the house route to work - 'work' in quotation marks. For me, one of these cars is the Ford Focus RS, the second of - as we now know - three. Leaving him behind in a French underground car park after the last common story, in a different career, hurt his heart. Because somehow it was different from the others, especially, not as fiddled as the Golf R, not as velvety as an RS 3, but pure. He also sprayed rally flair. Externally, acoustically, while driving. Always. All over. Regardless of whether you were doing u-gymnastics in the turning hammer of a settlement or pounding around a dirt road hairpin.

Now you can be of the opinion that a Subaru WRX and the Mitsubishi Lancer Evo also succeeded. And although there is certainly something to it, it never seemed so casual with them. They were offshoots of sports equipment or the starting point from which sports equipment was derived, with sophisticated all-wheel drive systems, locks, adjustable differentials and so on. The Focus RS, on the other hand, was rather simple, never wanted to be a car for rally drivers, but for rally fans, the automotive equivalent of the Monte cap, so to speak. One that made you feel like Grönholm, or better: just like one assumed that such a Grönholm would feel.

RS - the insignia of rally sport

In short: The The name was program. In contrast to Porsche and Audi, the RS insignia at Ford do not stand for racing, but rather explicitly for rallying. That is how it was with the 15M almost 50 years ago, and it still is. In any case, only the distance between the series and its racing counterparts has changed over the years. In the second Focus RS generation, this connection was, as I said, more of a symbolic one: front-wheel drive, five-cylinder - that had little to do with the equipment of the WRC. Every now and then, however, competition and civilization completely merged. Inevitably.

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Group B madness for the road: The Ford RS200.

We're in the 80s, Group B is raging in rallying. Audi had just rudely eliminated the era of rear-wheel drive and so, in a way, instigated the madness. In order to keep up, the competition produced ever wilder missiles. And Ford's contribution should be the RS200. Technically, practically everything was allowed, the only condition that the regulations placed on the World Cup racing cars: 200 roadworthy offshoots had to be built.

Ford RS 200: The homological consequence

Vom Ford RS200 are only made about 140, although the stories differ somewhat about the background: Some say that a couple of the cars were simply driven twice past the closed eyes of the FIA ​​officials; Others report that some specimens were only put together for acceptance and then dismantled again to donate parts. Either way: Whatever was created 30 years ago in whatever dose, has precious little to do with a car, it is more of a machine - a machine in hell. Windows, doors and the roof section come from the Sierra, the rest solely follows the reduce-to-the-max principle: the front and rear sections are latticed on tubular frames, the middle section is a cell made of carbon fiber aramid fabric, over which lies a plastic skin with the consistency of corrugated cardboard.

Inside there is only what the StVZO requires, and space for the pilot is obviously not one of them. The accelerator and brake pedal are so close together that you always have to move your foot past the other to operate one. Then comes the clutch, which means: it doesn't actually come, it is either there or not. Somehow the Ford RS200 rattles away. You can feel the front wheels through the servo-free steering right down to your fingertips, the 1.8-liter four-cylinder - a Cosworth Formula 1 engine cut in half - in every fiber of the body.

The RS200 embodies Group B -Wahnsinn

Now mid-engines are nothing completely crazy these days. Usually, however, they work in the background, in their own compartment. But here he is sitting on your neck as a cattle. You smell its vapors, feel the waste heat, plus the sound that the word noise most aptly describes. Nothing earth-shattering happens until 4,000, then the apocalypse breaks out. The 241 hp of theSeries configurations may seem cute by today's standards. However, if you realize that practically all of the propulsion is concentrated in the second half of the engine speed, you get a vague idea of ​​what it must have been like to beat a special stage with around twice the power: only people on the left, only on the right People and in between two people who were relieved of pain in a highly explosive cannonball.

Two years after the debut of the RS200, the madness took its inevitable course, and Group B destroyed itself. From then on, the contemplative years began in the World Rally Championship on, one demonstrates common sense and proclaims closeness to series production - until 1997 the World Rally Cars dared to take the offensive again. Drive-related affinities to bar goods are no longer required, so that Ford separates the two worlds. The RS models are no longer used for homologation, but primarily for emotion, are supposed to sell themselves and, with their charisma, the good relatives at the same time - and in the opinion of the strategists, all-wheel drive is no longer needed.

At first, the front-wheel drive in the Focus RS was sufficient

The first two RS versions based on Ford Focus have to put their turbo engines on the road with the front wheels - but of course not just like that. In episode one, Ford is the first ever to put a limited-slip differential in the front, in episode two it is refined with the Revo-Knuckle - a special wheel guide that diverts disruptive drive influences from the steering, i.e. as far as this is possible at up to 460 Nm is. But despite the technical sophistication and despite the tradition of interpreting the subject of compact sports more radically than the competition, the two of them suddenly stand there like carolers at a rock concert.

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Locking mechanism between the front wheels, rigorous coordination - the first Focus RS curves not, he tears around the corner.

One after the other: With Ford Focus RS number three, Ford is returning to all-wheel drive, which would also explain the reference point to the RS200, which would be once started. And as before, the principle is on againunique - with the difference that it should not only increase traction and driving dynamics, but also entertainment in particular. I don't know how intensely you have been following the Ford Focus RS with us lately. But months ago I wrote that you should definitely take one, but I can't say why yet. Now I can, and the reason is actually this all-wheel drive system that the fan base was so afraid of in advance.

Generation 3 and the special all-wheel drive

But Ford doesn't just have that Common Haldex principle screwed to the transverse motor, which only distributes the power from front to back. The key difference: Instead of having one clutch for the entire rear axle, the new Focus RS works with one for each rear wheel. It is controlled electronically using a wide variety of driving parameters, depending on the selected driving mode, but always with the same goal: to nip understeer, the natural enemy of driving dynamics, in the bud.

Let's make it specific: If you are roasting a curve with solid stock, a control unit puts everything on alert. The choreography begins with the first steering impulse. The clutch on the inside of the curve opens, the opposite one closes. This creates excess torque on the outside wheel, which ultimately steers the rear towards the apex - strong in sport mode, as strong as necessary in track mode and in drift mode so that you can slide around the curve. Have a look, friends of the sun, that's how torque vectoring works: active, progressive and not indirectly via brake interventions that are so often sold for it.

Ford Focus RS III - Slim, beefy, agile

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Jecktriebler - His uncompromising track fashion will heat up the established ones deserves the driving pleasure gold medal.

With the 2.3-liter four-cylinder engine, it is now almost as slim as generation one - the only difference is that the turbo pressure now spreads as a permanent high between idle and maximum speed. The driving feeling is more reminiscent of part two of the trilogy. In him you can feel that young man again, this combination of board-like road holding and a certain nonchalance in dealing with her. In plain language: He bites into the ideal line, but never cramps, fights, but always playfully - whereby you can feel both facets even more directly through the noticeably stiffened overall construction.

The only step backwards relates to the relationship to rallying. Not that he has become a brittle roundabout, God forbid, but he still has less to do with the World Cup than most RS models so far - but that's not because of him, but because Ford has only been using Fiesta there for some time . The fans won't care - and it's made for them again.


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