The Focus is set to go out with a bang with the ultimate hot hatch! For the car’s swansong, before the all-new third generation arrives in dealers next year, Ford bosses have given the green light to a firebreathing new version.
Hear the RS500 in action in the official teaser video
Taking the already potent RS as a base, the RS500 features a revised engine that will really get fast Ford fans talking. The Volvo-sourced turbocharged 2.5-litre has been tweaked by UK-based tuner Mountune. The result is a power output boosted to 345bhp – a 15 per cent increase from standard. Plus, torque has risen from 440Nm to 460Nm, to give the engine yet more mid-range punch.
To squeeze out all the extra power, the RS500 is equipped with an enlarged intercooler, which feeds colder, denser air into the engine. A larger exhaust downpipe and new fuel pump have been fitted to keep up with the unit’s higher performance demands.
In addition, the engine management system has been recalibrated to optimise the delivery of power for maximum pace. As a result, the sprint from 0-62mph now takes only 5.6 seconds – three-tenths faster than the standard car – while top speed is up from 163mph to 165mph.
Other than the engine changes, there have been very few modifications to the car’s chassis. The RevoKnuckle front suspension system – which reduces torque steer – remains the same, as does the Quaife limited-slip differential. The brakes are also carried over, although the calipers are painted red to help set the RS500 apart from lesser models. Ford has retained the 19-inch 15-spoke alloy wheels, too, but given them a metallic black finish.
To prove that the chassis could cope, as part of the car’s development programme, three racing drivers were hired to lap the infamous 12.9-mile Nordschleife section of the Nürburgring circuit in Germany non-
stop 500 times. Following the test, chief engineer Matthias Tonn confirmed: “An eight-minute lap time is within reach.” tThat would make the RS500 the fastest hot hatch at the track, eclipsing the current record of eight minutes 17 seconds, held by the Renaultsport Mégane R26.R.
Ford will offer only one colour – a striking matt black foil finish, specially developed for the car by American technology firm 3M. The foil is applied by hand after each model rolls off the line at Ford’s plant in Saarlouis, Germany. A unique blue and red badge is also added to the tailgate.
Inside, a number of modifications have been carried out. The RS500 is based on the top-spec version of the RS, so it already gets air-con, parking sensors and Recaro seats. But in addition, each car is individually numbered with a plaque on the centre console. There’s a unique red colour scheme, with red stitching for the leather on the steering wheel, door trims and gearlever gaiter. The only options are a touchscreen DVD sat-nav and red leather seats.
The car will make its debut on 9 April at Germany’s Leipzig Motor Show, and go on sale in the UK late in June. As it did with 2003’s GT supercar, Ford will bring 101 examples to the UK. Demand is likely to be high, despite the predicted £34,000 price. Bosses are finalising a ballot system to decide the lucky recipients of the fastest Focus ever.