EFP / Escort-Focus Performance
Although SVT has recently given the U.S. market its own brand of hot hatch, Ford's RS (Rallye Sport) badge has a worldwide history that stretches to the early '70s, adorning a wide variety of small performance compacts and sedans. Its value became slightly tarnished in later years, as Ford stuck it on anything with boy-racer pretensions. The ad news is you can't buy one in America, at least, not at the moment.
The stock Focus chassis has been one of Ford's best efforts for some time, yet the car has been thoroughly reengineered in RS form with 70 percent of its components uprated or redesigned. The vast spoilers and unseemly body kits that made the last-generation, Euro-market RS Escorts look so thuggish have been replaced by a subtly muscular stance that's sufficiently different from the standard car to let you know it means business.
Inside, you settle into the figure-hugging Sparco seats; the starter button, drilled pedals, and chunky aluminum gearshift knob add more racing flavor. The engine, Garrett turbocharged and good for 212 horsepower--an increase of 42 horses over the U.S.-spec SVT Focus--has a gruff, throaty edge that'll hit all the right notes with hard-core drivers. It goes strong from low revs, spearing forward through five gears as the blower spools up between 3500 and 6000 rpm. It feels urgent, spiky, and very fast. The Quaife differential copes admirably with the power, although torque is limited to 177 Ib-ft in first and second.
The temperature of the charge air entering the new throttle body is controlled by a unique water-air intercooler. A separate radiator utilises its own dedicated water cooling supply and is significantly more efficient than the conventional air to air intercooler. The spent charge leaving the turbocharger enters the intercooler at a typical 150° C and exits it below 45° C. The engine has a water pump with 50 per cent more flow, and a high efficiency oil cooler. Additional 'run on' cooling fans are fitted and the engine bay is treated to more heat shielding with higher grade materials used to counter the increased underhood temperatures. A remapped version of the Ford EEC V engine management system controls fuel delivery through higher flow rate injectors. Additionally, the fuel system is completely new with a high-flow pump and pressure regulator valve.