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Get up close with Ford’s ferocious Focus RS hot hatch before its NY debut

When we saw the Focus RS debut at Geneva, the car set our hot-hatch-loving hearts aflutter and we instantly wanted a closer look. Lucky for us (and you), Ford has one on hand here in the States for next week’s New York auto show, and we had a chance to get up close and personal before it hits the stage floor.

The Classic Car Club of Manhattan is like the waiting room for gear-head heaven. Here, flanked by several Fords of old, the new 2016 Focus RS was perched appropriately beside its rally sport-inspired ancestor, the Escort Cosworth RS. Right off the bat, this Nitrous Blue is one of the four colors that the car will be offered in here in the U.S., marking the first time we’ve seen it not wearing the Liquid Blue, which Ford has been exclusively debuting its latest cars. In fact, this RS has more production parts than any of the previous examples we’ve seen on display in Europe, making this the most true-to-production example we’ve seen yet.

The bodywork modifications of the 2015 Focus shell, making it into the RS, are undoubtedly aggressive, from the wide-open front grille aperture down to the tweaks to boost brake and engine temp management by way of increased air flow. Along with opening up the breathing passages for the engine, Ford attacks cooling the front brakes from three sides: first with a large intake on the corners of the front fascia and then with an “aero blade” under the front bodywork that splits the airflow and channels it towards the brakes in a more deliberate manner.

These four-piston brakes are highlighted by body-matching painted calipers that sit behind gloss black 19-inch RS alloy wheels. These are shod in the grip-y Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires.

The front is where we can see the level of detail that Ford paid to the RS body. Looking closely at the black aero component, like the front lip and intakes reveals a fine hexagonal grain on the surface that were designed to match the hexagonal mesh the covers the front, we wager designers meticulously pored over every inch of this hot hatch hellion. That said, the back is largely unchanged, save for a prominent rear diffuser packing two hefty tailpipes and the distinct RS-embossed wing.

Inside, the RS doesn’t depart much from what we’ve seen in the Focus ST, apart from the materials. The Recaro sport seats are covered in more Alcantara than before and feature blue RS badges and matching contrast stitching. All the gauges also have that distinct RS blue mixed in as well.

The Ford handler for the Focus RS wasn’t able to let us peek under the hood, but he insisted the car’s underpinnings were all there — just not yet ready for close ups. Power numbers are still quoted as 315-plus horsepower from its 2.3-liter four-cylinder Ecoboost engine, sending it to all four wheels by way of a six-speed manual gearbox. Ford says they hope to crank that number up further by the time it hits the streets.

Just when will that happen? Right now, it looks like the RS will be available to U.S. customers in the spring of next year, as they’re manufactured in Germany before heading over.

Along with the Nitrous Blue are three other exclusive colors that the Focus RS can wear: Stealth Gray, Absolute Black and Frozen White. For the blue, we were told that it was a quad-coat paint job, with a reflective element layer so that the color changes slightly in the sunlight. The stealthy gray is said to be a very deep and almost matte-looking in person, which has us intrigued.

No pricing information is available just yet, but we hoping that, shortly after the New York Auto Show concludes, that information will become available.

We were already deeply in love with the Focus RS, having been sold on the Ford Performance breed with the likes of the Fiesta ST. Having gotten this close and personal with the Focus RS, though, we can easily say we’re champing at the bit and are quite certain it’ll become one our all-time faves.

Alexander Kalogianni
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Alex K is an automotive writer based in New York. When not at his keyboard or behind the wheel of a car, Alex spends a lot of…
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