I Drooled A Little On The 2016 Ford Focus RS

Sorry Ford, but you can't bring a ridiculously appealing 315HP hot-hatch along to a motor show and not expect car fans to drool around it. The surprise edge had already been taken off the 2016 Focus RS, a Ken Block tuned five-door with serious road-going abilities but a (probably) attainable price tag, but there's nothing quite like seeing the latest fruits of the Ford Performance division in the metal to whet the appetite and get you chomping at the bit for next year to arrive.

Part of what makes the Focus RS so tasty is the knowledge that the aesthetic isn't just for show. In fact, just about every addition and flourish serves some functional purpose.

So, the deep splitter underneath the trapezoidal grille helps funnel extra air into the engine compartment, where the 2.3-liter EcoBoost engine gurgles and splutters. Ducts on the side do the same thing for the brakes, which haul the 19-inch multi-spoke wheels to a halt.

At the rear, there's a meaty diffuser that's reminiscent of that of the new Ford GT, though obviously on a slightly more subtle scale than found on the 600+ horsepower uber-coupé.

It shouldn't mean the Focus RS need be any less entertaining to drive, however. Ford confirmed this week that the car will have both launch control and a drift mode.

The latter, fitted for the first time on a production car, effectively modifies the torque distribution through the all-wheel drive system, so as to provoke just the right sort of oversteer to get the RS going sideways.

What's impressive is that Ford has managed to include the electronic helpfulness without necessarily diluting the degree of interaction with the driver.

So, even though the AWD system can use two electronically-controlled clutch packs to shift torque front and back, left and right, taking into account which is the outside wheel during aggressive cornering, you still get a manual six-speed gearbox rather than a flappy-paddle DCT.

If you hadn't already guessed, I'm very enthusiastic about what the 2016 Focus RS represents, and it was a sentiment shared by many at Geneva this week. A lot will depend on final pricing, of course, which Ford is yet to confirm.