VWGolf R deal-hunters pause their search. Maybe even potential Mustang owners too. Or it would if the RS was coming any time soon - 2016 is all Ford would tell us.
As we guessed, the engine is the 2.3-litre turbocharged EcoBoost four as fitted to theMustang, but with the power boosted to "more than 320hp" thanks to an improved turbo with a larger compressor, as well as a larger intercooler to feed it. So it beats the Golf's 300hp and should sound good too, with Ford promising all the "burbles, pops and crackles that are an RS signature." The gearbox is a six-speed manual.
The Ford information sheet we got didn't go into too much detail about the four-wheel drive system, but it sounds very PH. For a start it comes with something Ford calls Dynamic Torque Vectoring on the rear axle that uses electric clutches to control the torque between front and rear axles and also between the left and right wheels at the rear.
We don't know whether it is a front-biased Haldex-type system, but it seems likely from Ford's blurb that power is being sent through the rear wheels for much for the time. For example Ford says the torque vectoring system will push torque to the outer rear wheel during cornering for better turn-in and stability. The company claims this "virtually eliminates understeer" and says the RS will achieve cornering forces approaching 1g.
Even better for the those of the sideways school of driving, Ford claims it offers "the ability to achieve controlled oversteer drifts at the track". With that much traction, there's a real possibility it could crack five seconds 0-60mph sprint time, although no performance figures were given ahead of the unveiling event.
So far the only downsides for RS purists are the fact the lack of a three-door Focus in the current range means five doors are compulsory and the inevitable adoption of electrically assisted power steering. Progress is rapid in the latter so let's hope some steering feel has been engineered in.
Some other details Ford has released is that it'll come with "two-mode" switchable dampers and that the suspension (obviously) has been stiffened from that of the ST.
We don't know about price yet. We can only assume that Ford will cover off the Golf R, which starts at £30,150. The R hasn't got the power or the premium pull of the 360hp Mercedes A45 AMG or the 367hp Audi RS3 Sportback (both 4WD), even though right now the RS is looking a sight more desirable, especially given that Ford traditionally limits numbers and that Focus RS Mk1 and Mk2 have held their values exceptionally well.
The marketing genius of the new RS is how well it feeds back into nostalgia for performance four-wheel-drive Fords of old. Better than that, it could even be cheaper - check out the price of this 1994 Escort RS Cosworth!