From Chris Biewer [ 19/09/2003 ].
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Ford had a big corner of one hall to themselves and you could easily spot them by the flood of blue lights. The main show however was all road cars as we know them already. It still was worth spending some time and the attitude of the Ford representatives gave you the impression that this is not only a very friendly make, but each customer oppinion is extremely valued indeed. Ford certainly showed themselves off in a better light than many other manufacturers managed on this show. But you still had to look carefully to find the attractions. There was a nice Ford GT40, that had just been re-launched and looked quite different in bright red. But for us rally fans the even better attractions were Focus related.
The Ford Focus RS 03 WRCar appeared to be a real car as used by Francois Duval. Like at Peugeot and Citroen, you were allowed to touch this rally car, which some other makes wouldn’t even let you do to the road cars they are trying to sell. But in the Ford case – and other than Citroen i.e. – it was the real rally car you could sit in and use it as the most expensive frame I have seen to date to play your Playstation game in:
The other car that interests us is the road base car to the Ford WRCar, the Ford Focus RS. It has only FWD, but it’s clever, modern front differential is meant to help this FWD car cope with the torque without making traction and understeering too much of a problem. The Focus RS has a 2.0 16v turbo engine with 215BHP. The rear axle design is to blame that this car is not available with 4x4. But the next generation Focus, on sale from summer 2004, has a different rear axle geometrie. The intention is to launch a new RS version a year later, summer 2005. And then we may quite likely see an even more powerful 4x4 version, possibly called the Focus Cosworth and possibly being a group N rally base car. In this, the intentions of Renault (see our general article) with their new, turbo charged Megane Sport seem to be very similar, which is good news for rallying as a whole and amateur rally drivers in particular. The current Ford Focus RS, as displayed here, has been made as a limited edition of 4,500 units. Amusingly the car on display had a badge “0007/4500”. While all of these have been built at Ford’s Saarlouis plant in Germany, 2,500 have been taken to the UK and there they are sold out. If you want a Focus RS, try Germany, where apparently out of 800 alocated, some 600 or so are still found at Ford dealerships.