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Unread 07-08-2016, 09:38 AM
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Default Vorshlag Ford Focus RS Development Thread

Project Kickoff - July 8, 2016: The 2016 Ford Focus RS, AWD turbo compact, has hit the streets - and we just got our hands on one for the next 10 days. During that time we plan on measuring, weighing, and testing the OEM bits - and hopefully developing some new items for this chassis.

The new Ford Focus RS is being introduced in the USA in July 2016 as a 2016 model. The key features are: All Wheel Drive, 2.3L 350 hp turbocharged 4 cylinder engine, compact size, big Brembo brakes, and a $36,755 starting price. These cars are just starting to hit the dealerships across the country this week (many with large mark-ups) and our friend Todd Earsley at MyShopAssist just got his the day before he left town to go race his Mitsubishi EVO at an Optima event in Colorado.

Vorshlag Forums - our little forum which gets a surprising amount of traffic
Corner-Carvers - A very technical forum that ... tolerates us posting there. #Watermarked
TrackMustangsOnline - a Forum for S197 and S550 Mustang track owners (which we sponsor)
S197 Forum - a Forum for S197 and S550 Mustang track owners (which we sponsor)
SCCA Forum - a forum for SCCA racers who autocross, road race, and more (which we sponsor)

Above are the forums where this thread will be updated, questions answered, etc. We didn't want to push this thread where it wasn't wanted, so we're sticking with forums we own or sponsor only.


Why is this Focus RS car important? For one it fills a niche now that the AWD turbo Mitsubishi EVO is no longer being made. That departure last year left a huge hole in the AWD turbo compact market.

We had fun with the 3610 pound EVO X MR back in 2008-09. We used that to developed a number of suspension products (shocks, camber plates, shock mounts) as well as figured out better solutions for the wheels, exhaust, and even came up with some cooling fixes for the DSG's sequential gearbox. We had a lot of fun racing it in NASA Time Trials and SCCA autocross semi-effectively (it won some TTA events and did well in BSP autocross class locally).

The rest of the AWD turbo market is fairly underwhelming. After the remarkably light and fast GR model Subaru STi left us (shown above) it became a bigger/heavier car that went up in price. The 2017 model STi is now 3400 pounds and starts at $35,000, but they go way up from there (the popular Limited trim level STI is $40,000). The Subarus are also just... odd. The flat 4 engine they use is hung way out in front and full of bad ideas, which makes Subarus a "love it or hate it" kind of car. And they don't do as well in autocross or on track as the EVOs of the same years, so losing the EVO was a significant loss - that Ford is trying to fill.

The only other AWD turbo compact we have in the USA is the Golf R, which itself has become a heavy compact car with an even smaller following. The 2016 Golf R with the DSG trans is close to 3400 pounds and $39,000. We worked with a tester on the new Mark VII VW platform, shown above, to create a camber/caster plate for this new chassis earlier this year. His car was a 2015 GTI - these are FWD (the AWD model is much more costly) but had the slick DSG dual sequential gearbox - like the EVO X MR had. The GTI is nearly 300 pounds lighter than the new Focus, as you will see below, but the Golf R (292 hp) is almost the same - but with a better gearbox.

So, Ford has added its hat to the "AWD turbo compact car" ring in the USA. And looking at it's current competitors, it is neither overpriced nor overweight. But does it offers more than these other cars? The $36,775 base price might also be a bit misleading - it is easy to option these cars to $45,000, and some dealers are marking them up $10K beyond that (which goes away fairly quickly, once initial demand catches up with supply).


We here at Vorshlag try to get our hands on the "hot new cars" that people might want to use on a road course or autocross, and we use our Vorshlag Test Pilot Program to reach out to folks with these cars when they first hit the streets. If we can borrow their car for a week or two it allows us to get real corner weights of the cars (because OEM "curb weights" are usually junk data), measure for larger wheels, measure brake pads to help develop track worthy options, look for any exhaust system issues, and of course measure suspension bits.

I got a message two days ago that basically said: "If you want to develop stuff for my RS while I am out of town for the next ten days, come get it!" So yesterday my engineer Jason and I went to the Evolution Dynamics / MSA shop space and picked this beauty up. Jason drove it back the ~25 miles to our shop (nearly doubling the mileage on the odometer) and had these things to say:

"Lots of power off the line, surprisingly good acceleration. Ride quality is harsh, the steering is very fast, it is *very darty and wants to tramline badly. The shifter needs some help." - Jason @ Vorshlag

* We have since measured the alignment and this car came with 1/8" of total front toe out, which might explain the dartiness.

After shop manager Brad shot a few outside pictures we brought it inside and checked the initial ride height at all 4 corners, camber and toe front and rear, then put it up on the lift and slid our digital corner weight scales underneath to get a weight. As always I took a guess - without knowing anything about this car other than what I could see - and I guessed 3220 pounds. I'm usually pretty close on my weight guesses but this time I was off by over 200 pounds. This car had a FULL tank of fuel, which could explain some of the higher weight...

Wow, 3445 pounds full of fuel is a lot for a car considered a compact - but again, look at its competitors and they are all in this range. AWD definitely adds some weight to the FWD Focus ST, as do the giant Brembo calipers and 19x8" wheels Ford decided to put on this car. That would be the first thing I changed, by the way - the OEM wheels. The 235/35/19 rubber looks too narrow on this car and the sidewalls are too short, which might explain the ride harshness. We are pulling the wheels and tires + brakes off to weigh them now...

Ford used the old "scoop and flap" method of front brake cooling, just like on the 2015 Mustang and on Porsches since the 1980s. This is where a brake duct or in this case a low pressure inducing tunnel under the front end puts air near the inside front suspension, then a flap on the control arm diverts this flow towards the brakes. It doesn't work all that well, but its something.

With the weight this car has I suspect a dedicated brake cooling system will be beneficial for track use, so we will look into that for this Focus.


There are dozens more pictures we have taken and need to analyze. There are definitely things that can be improved in the exhaust, the wheels, and suspension.

I haven't even driven the focus yet, so I will go drive it around the block a few times and get a feel for it. We are looking at the suspension and brakes very closely right now and will report back in the next few days, to see if we can improve on what Ford has built...


Last edited by Fair!; 07-07-2017 at 09:22 AM.
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