Carbon-fiber bonanza and enhanced performance

The latest Ford Focus RS was unveiled for the 2016 model year and gave the hot-hatch term new meaning through its aggressive exterior, race-prepped cabin, and surprisingly powerful drivetrain. Rated at 350 horsepower and 350 pound-feet of torque, the Focus RS is significantly more powerful than anything else in this niche, including the much-praised Volkswagen Golf R. To put things into perspective, the Focus RS is quicker and more powerful than he awesome Porsche 718 Cayman. At the same time, it’s only marginally less powerful than the base Porsche 911, but around two tenths quicker from 0 to 60 mph. But while the Focus RS is arguably the most exciting hatchback you can buy nowadays, there are quite a few tuning companies that find a way to make it even better. VMP Performance is one of them, and its version of the Focus RS was just unveiled ahead of the 2017 SEMA Show.

Dubbed "TriAthlete," because it can "smoke the competition in true Olympic triathlete style" at the drag strip, the road course, and on twisty backroads, this souped-up Focus RS boasts upgrades in just about any department. Fitted with parts from Ford Performance, CoBB Tuning, and Anderson Composites, among others, the "TriAthlete" is a more aggressive proposition inside and out, while its drivetrain is a significant departure from the standard 2.3-liter EcoBoost engine. Some details are still under wraps, but until Ford spills the beans at the SEMA Show, let’s take a closer look at what we already know about this exotic concept car.

Continue reading to learn more about the Ford Focus RS “TriAthlete.”

Exterior

2017 Ford Focus RS “TriAthlete” by VMP Performance
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If you're a big fan of carbon-fiber, you'll definitely love this one

Thanks to its beefed-up aero kit, the standard Focus RS is already a menacing hatchback on the outside. But that didn’t stop VMP Performance giving it an even more aggressive look. And if you’re a big fan of carbon-fiber, you’ll definitely love this one as the tuning firm used plenty of it. The engine hood, the front splitter, rear spoiler, rear diffuser, rocker panels and foglamps surround are all made from the lightweight material. But while the hood and the foglamp surrounds are identical to the standard model as far as design goes, the splitter extends the bumper closer to the ground, giving the front fascia a sportier look. The same goes for the side skirts, which feature aggressive extensions and winglets toward the rear wheels.

All these parts were sourced from Anderson Composites, a California-based company specialized in fiberglass and carbon-fiber components for late-model U.S. models.

2017 Ford Focus RS “TriAthlete” by VMP Performance
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Exterior modifications continue onto the sides with a set of Forgestar CF5 Deep Concave wheels

Exterior modifications continue onto the sides with a set of Forgestar CF5 Deep Concave wheels finished in matte black. The rollers measure 19 inches and are wrapped in Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 high-performance tires. Unfortunately, there’s no photo of the rear section, but we can see a large wing atop the tailgate and it’s safe to assume that the diffuser is motorsport-inspired element that’s far more aggressive than the standard unit.

The souped-up hatchback also features lighting components with RetroShop custom fitment by Diode Dynamics and lens tint by Anchor Room. A dark gray paint rounds off the menacing exterior, giving the carbon-fiber elements a more subtle look.

Interior

2016 Ford Focus RS Interior
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Note: Standard Ford Focus RS pictured here.

Much like the exterior, the cabin received some carbon-fiber parts

There aren’t photos of the interior yet, but VMP Performance added a range of new features, starting with a Brey-Krause custom bolt-in harness bar and a Simpson Racing five-point harness. There’s no mentioning of racing seats, but it’s safe to assume that the harness comes with a race-spec unit for the driver.

The tuning firm also mentions some Ford Accessories, but there’s no specific info as to what that may mean. However, there’s a big chance that this Focus RS will be used to showcase some upcoming features from the brand. Much like the exterior, the cabin received some carbon-fiber parts, like the shift knob, the window switch cover, and the instrument cluster. Finally, there’s a cargo area protector in the trunk.

Drivetrain

2016 Ford Focus RS
- image 702708

Note: Engine of t he standard Ford Focus RS pictured here.

The beefed-up Focus RS uses the same engine 2.3-liter EcoBoost engine, but there are plenty of upgrades to talk about

The beefed-up Focus RS uses the same engine 2.3-liter, four-cylinder EcoBoost engine as the standard model (paired to the six-speed manual transmission), but there are plenty of upgrades to talk about.

For starters, VMP Performance added a short throw shifter and a cat-back exhaust system from Ford Performance. There’s also a carbon-fiber cold air intake and an Accessport handheld tuner, both made by COBB Tunning, while the new internal wastegate actuator comes from Turbosmart. A dual port blow-off valve from Kompact rounds off the engine upgrade list.

The chassis was also enhanced by means of a performance suspension from Air Lift

The chassis was also enhanced by means of a performance suspension from Air Lift — the lowered ride height is more than visible from the outside — as well as DBA USA 4000 series slotted brake rotors at all four corners.

There’s no word as to how these upgrades modify engine performance, but it’s safe to assume that the turbocharged EcoBoost unit cranks out more than the standard 350 horsepower and 350 pound-feet of torque, although likely not by a lot. Still, the extra oomph, the new internals, and the revised aerodynamics should shave some two tenths of the Focus RS’ standard 0-to-60 mph time of around 4.6 seconds.

Conclusion

2017 Ford Focus RS “TriAthlete” by VMP Performance
- image 738199

While we still have no information about the actual output and performance and we still need to see shots of the rear end and the cabin, it’s pretty clear that the Focus RS "TriAthlete" is one of the main highlights at this year’s SEMA Show. All I can say right now is that I wish VMP Performance would put this kit into production. I bet it wouldn’t be overly expensive and that it will turn the Focus RS into an even better car for weekends at the race track.

  • Leave it
    • * Just a show car for now
    • * We still don’t know much about its performance

References

Ford Focus RS

2016 Ford Focus RS High Resolution Exterior
- image 664701

Read our full review on the 2016 Ford Focus RS.

2016 Ford Focus RS – Driven Exterior High Resolution
- image 718773

Read our full driven review on the 2016 Ford Focus RS.

Press release

At the drag strip, the road course or on America’s twisty backroads, this Ford Focus RS smokes the competition in true Olympic triathlete style. Performance suspension and powertrain upgrades including a dual port blow-off valve helps vent the air-intake reducing turbo lag and eliminating cavitation. A sinister matte black finish with custom airbrush art and lightweight carbon fiber bits combine for an RS with a street stalker exterior and competitive attitude.

Base Vehicle

2017 Ford Focus RS
3L EcoBoost I4 engine
6-speed manual transmission

Powertrain

Ford Performance cat-back exhaust**
Ford Performance short throw shifter**
Levels Performance high performance intercooler
COBB Tuning carbon fiber cold air intake
COBB Tuning Accessport handheld tuner
Turbosmart internal wastegate actuator
Kompact dual port blow-off valve

Chassis

Air Lift - Performance series suspension
DBA USA 4000 series T3 front/rear slotted rotors

Wheels and Tires

Forgestar CF5 Deep Concave in custom matte black (19” x 9.5”) wheels
Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 high performance (265/35ZR19) tires

Exterior

Chris Cruz Artistry full custom paint in matte black with airbrushed graphics
Anderson Composites:
Carbon Fiber hood
Rear spoiler
Front splitter
Rear diffuser
Rocker panels and fog light surround
Diode Dynamics lighting with RetroShop custom fitment
Anchor Room lens tint

Interior

Brey-Krause custom bolt-in harness bar
Simpson Racing 5pt harness
Ford Accessories:*
Carbon fiber shift knob
Carbon fiber instrument cluster
Carbon fiber window switch cover
Cargo area protector

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Press release
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