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The 2016 Ford Focus RS has been revealed at a special preview event in Cologne ahead of its Geneva debut, but it’ll be a bit of a wait for those looking to bag one of these – production of the the third-generation RS is set to begin late this year, which pretty much means a 2016 market debut for the range-topping C346 Focus in many places.

Still, the patient RS aficionado will have much to look forward to. The new car – the 30th vehicle to wear the Rallye Sport moniker since it was introduced in 1968 – will feature all-wheel drive, for starters. It’ll be powered by a 2.3 litre EcoBoost engine, the same as found in the new S550 Mustang, but reworked for this application with a comprehensive package of design changes. It’ll be mated to a six-speed manual transmission.

No 350 hp as initially thought or the 330 hp as later rumoured, but power is still in excess of a decent 320 PS. Additions and changes include a new low-inertia, twin-scroll turbo with a larger compressor to deliver significantly increased air flow as well as a larger intercooler to maximise charge density. The car also gets improved cooling, aided by a larger radiator (the biggest ever stuffed into a Focus, so it goes) and improved materials for the cylinder head/block as well as the head gasket.

Also on, a less restrictive, newly designed intake to offer improved engine breathing and a large-bore high performance exhaust system, the latter featuring an electronically-controlled valve in the tailpipe to optimise the balance of back pressure and noise output, complete with distinctive burbles, pops and crackles. Looks like the Mercedes-Benz A 45 AMG is set to have a raucous competitor in the output sound stakes.

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The new Ford Performance AWD system with Dynamic Torque Vectoring is based on twin electronically-controlled clutch packs on each side of the rear drive unit. These manage the car’s front/rear torque split and are also able to control the side-to-side torque distribution on the rear axle.

The control unit in the rear drive unit – which monitors inputs from multiple vehicle sensors 100 times per second – continuously varies the front/rear and side-to-side torque distribution to suit the driving situation. A maximum of 70% of the drive torque can be diverted to the rear axle, and up to 100% of the available torque at the rear axle can be sent to each rear wheel.

When cornering, the rear drive unit diverts torque to the outer rear wheel immediately based on inputs (steering wheel angle, lateral acceleration, yaw as well as speed). This torque transfer has the effect of “driving” the car into the bend, translating to improved turn-in and stability.

Ford says the AWD system effectively eliminates understeer, and hoons will be pleased to know that it’ll offer the car the ability to achieve controlled oversteer drifts. Plenty in the way of grip, with the RS capable in excess of 1 g in lateral acceleration.

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The new RS also gets a sports suspension featuring spring rates, bushes and anti-roll-bars stiffer than that found in the Focus ST – the dampers are two-mode switchable types, capable of offering a firmer setting if needed, say for track driving.

Design-wise, the RS gets a reworked front-end, with a new upper trapezoidal grille above the deep front splitter, incorporating the largest possible apertures for engine cooling. Large outboard openings on each side of the front house vertically-mounted fog lamps and also house the apertures of the brake cooling ducts.

At the back, there’s a large diffuser with twin round exhaust outlets – in European and Asian market models, this is where a clear central fog lamp will be found. There’s also a dedicated RS roof spoiler, replete with embossed RS logos on the sides.

A choice of multi-spoke 19-inch RS alloy wheels are available for the car, including a high-performance lightweight, forged design finished in low-gloss black – it’s stronger than the regular wheel, and lighter as well by a kilo per wheel. The wheels are wrapped with 235/35 Pilot Super Sport rubbers, though optional Pilot Sport Cup 2 tyres are available for track-focused drivers.

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The interior gets the facelifted Focus‘ redesigned dash and control layout, and heavily-bolstered partial-leather Recaro sports seats are standard issue – customers in Europe and Asia will be able to go for the optional RS Recaro shell seats that come dressed with authentic motorsport microfibre fabric panels.

Elsewhere, there’s a new, flat-bottomed steering wheel with a soft-feel leather covered rim, alloy foot pedals as well as unique instrument graphics within the main cluster. The blue theme is showcased through the stitching on the seats, steering wheel, floor mats and interior trim, a coloured graphic on the gear shifter and via the RS logo found on the seats, steering wheel and door scuff plates.

Tech bits include Adaptive Front Lighting for the standard fitment bi-Xenon HID headlamps and Active City Stop system, as well as SYNC connectivity and an eight-inch colour touchscreen. Like in the ST, there’s a triple gauge bank sitting above the centre console, and these display turbo boost pressure, oil temperature and oil pressure.

The Focus RS will be available in four exterior shades, these being Stealth Grey, Absolute Black, Frozen White and Nitrous Blue – the latter is a four-coat metallic finish exclusive to the car. The debutant in Cologne is dressed in the same unique Liquid Blue colour scheme seen on the new Ford GT in Detroit, so it won’t be available for series production cars.