Think Ford’s race-only Focus RS RX is just a hopped-up version of the one you can buy? It sort-of is, in the same way chocolate cake is just modified flour and eggs. Ford cooked up a nice behind-the-scenes video on the RS RX, mixing race footage with techno-speak and plenty of interviews on the car’s development.
If you want a primer before committing 16 minutes of your life, here are the basics. The folks at M-Sport – Ford’s long-time partner in building kick-butt rally racers – take the bones of the same Focus RS built in Germany, and then modify it. A lot. Meanwhile, gurus at Ford Performance in Dearborn dial up hurricane-force levels of boost to coax 600 horsepower from a 2.0-liter mill, which sends the power to all four wheels using a straight-up mechanical all-wheel drive system.
So no, the RS RX isn’t simply a street Focus with a bigger turbo. Rally fans will be surprised to learn that it’s also not a tweaked version of Ford’s Fiesta and Focus platforms used in the World Rally Championship. The RX moniker stands for rally cross, as in the FIA World Rallycross series. There are certainly similarities among the racing fleet, but the RS RX is as much touring car as it is rally car. In building this particular machine, designers and engineers started from scratch.
That’s not to say Ford didn’t have any related experience to draw from. The manufacturer has a long and distinguished history in the rally genre, dating back to 1978 with the European-spec Escort RS1800. After taking a few years off, the manufacturer dipped a toe into the bonkers Group B series of the World Rally Championship with the RS200, then kept going with the Ford Sierra before returning to the Escort RS Cosworth through the 1990s. Ford would ultimately capture back-to-back manufacturer championships with the Focus WRC in 2006 and 2007.
The RS RX is strictly a race machine, but with a year of development now in the books, don’t be surprised if RX-inspired Focus RS upgrades eventually sneak into dealerships. In the meantime, enjoy the video and photo gallery.