Now that Ford has managed to drop a number of jaws with its unveiling of the 2016 Focus RS, a lot of people were dying to know how and why the sports model comes with all-wheel drive and a manual transmission only. Speaking with Autocar, Ford’s VP and Chief Technical Officer Raj Nair shed some light on the matter, while dropping a minor bombshell about the company’s future strategy as well.

As it happens, manual transmissions will not be entirely replaced by hyper-efficient automatics and dual-clutch gearboxes any time soon when it comes to future Ford sports models - the only exception obviously being the 2017 Ford GT, whose twin-turbocharged V-6 will be paired with a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission. "All our current research says that customers really like these kinds of cars to have a manual gearbox,” Nair told Autocar. “We’ll keep looking at market trends, and of course we’ll give customers what they want, but for now the manual stays."

This is not the only good news from Ford for performance-car purists though, as the innovative all-wheel-drive system sported by the new Focus RS may end up installed in other future models as well. "We’ve done the hard part in developing it to production,” Tyrone Johnson, RS engineering manager told Autocar. “It would be fair to suggest that we’ll be looking to use the technology in other ways in the future, having done that."

Click past the jump to read more about the new Focus RS AWD system and manual transmissions for Ford.

Why it matters

The highly unconventional all-wheel-drive system found in the new Ford Focus RS is arguably the biggest step foward that the model has made compared with any of its predecessors. So far, the new sports model is the only AWD car with a transverse engine that can send more that 50 percent of its available torque to the rear axle. In fact, the 2016 Focus RS can send up to 70 percent of its engine’s torque to the rear axle, where a thingamajig called a Rear Drive Unit (RDU) can further split it in its entirety to either rear wheel. In translation, this contraption can give the model the ability to perform controlled power oversteer and drifts at will.

Also coming with a manual transmission as standard, the new Focus RS can thus cater to both traditionalists and modern performance car fans, which is no mean feat for any carmaker. Now that Ford officials have confirmed that both the intelligent all-wheel-drive system and manual transmissions will trickle down to other performance models in the nearby future, it looks like the Dearborn company is set to satisfy a huge number of enthusiasts all over the world.

Ford Focus RS

2016 Ford Focus RS High Resolution Exterior
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Source: AutoCar

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