What could be better than a Mk3 Focus RS development car you say? Well, two actually, and that's exactly what our engineering team have been using for more than six months to design, develop and validate our forthcoming range of performance parts and upgrade kits for Ford's latest AWD, RS-badge wearing Focus.
For all of our major MP (mountune Performance) upgrade programs we use Ford pre-production development cars, or mules as they're affectionately referred to as. These dev-cars might not look all that, but it's underneath, and what you can't see that's so special, as these are thoroughly re-worked to RS specification and fully instrumented. This provides the perfect platform to gain early access to the base vehicle calibrations via a development module and, gives us the opportunity to see how the powertrain functions and where we can make improvements for the aftermarket, as opposed to OE customer. Oh, and if you're sat there wondering, what on earth do we mean by fully instrumented, or development module, we'll cover both of those in more detail later.
DRIVEN, BY DATA
As with so many things, having rich data to work with is key, especially when you're talking about further increasing this high-output 2.3-litre turbocharged engine. The dev-module we use is fitted with a lead that links directly to a laptop running special software. This gives our calibration team complete, unparalleled access to the ECU. We can see everything the base calibration team at Ford can see, unlike any other aftermarket tuning system or company out there, so regardless of what you might've been told elsewhere, nobody else has this access.
The other thing that sets us apart is also having the strategy. The strategy tells the calibrator how each table interacts with one another, why variables are changed, and the knock-on effect this can have elsewhere in the calibration itself. Modern 'maps' have evolved into complex calibrations that require a great deal of knowledge to modify and optimise properly – it's not just a table for boost, ignition and fuel. Things are far, far more complex. The Focus RS base calibration, for example, has no less than 1400 different tables controlling everything from pedal maps to altitude-based correction offsets.
Therefore, it takes real understanding to manipulate a base calibration to reliably produce more performance, whilst maintaining drivability, fuel economy, refinement and in our case, your warranty!
We also mentioned earlier that these vehicles are fully instrumented. In order to meet our sign-off criteria we need to know what turbo speeds, in-cylinder pressures, engine revs and what a whole host of parameters being produced are, in order to remain within the required boundary conditions set out by Uncle Henry.
Pop the bonnet and you'll see a host of wires running throughout the engine linked to pressure transducers, thermocouples and more, all relaying this essential data back to modules and data loggers that can be used to view live, and compare recorded data. So in summary, all you really need is a dev-module that gives you complete access to all of the base tables, the strategy that tells you what each table does and the effect it has on all other tables, an instrumented engine and finally, a calibrator that knows what they're doing, TED (The Engineered Difference)... simple!
GOING WITH THE FLOW
Now that you're up to speed, it's time to share some more specific detail about the new Focus RS with the group and, as this is our first RS instalment we're going to take a look at one of the first modifications that will undoubtedly be made, the induction setup. As you've probably seen from all the press shots doing the rounds, the Focus RS uses a brand new, modified airbox setup, complete with an almost 'open' filter arrangement in the top. You'll notice it features some RS branding and a lattice design, but its main reason was to provide minimal pressure drops across the 'dirty' side of the air filter to the 'clean' side. A brand new intake tract then feeds the air across the engine bay and down to the turbo, similar to its Focus ST predecessor. Our development initially started with back-to-back sessions on our in-house flow bench, together with a host of air filter and intake options to find the best combination of parts to release additional induction noise, and further reduce any pressure drop across the intake system.
The easiest way to relate to what's trying to be achieved is if you were to put your hand across the end of a vacuum cleaner. With your hand across the nozzle (intake) it causes the engine (or vacuum) to work harder to try and draw in the same amount of air and maintain performance. Ensuring this intake has as little restriction as possible means your engine can work at its most efficient, either releasing additional power in the process, or, as in most cases, gaining some additional head-way back that can then be exploited, also giving more power and the same net-effect.
With some data to work with, development parts were fitted to one of our test cars to correlate our findings in-car and in the real world. This involves countless miles accumulating data logs under varying conditions and driving styles, before being further validated on a chassis dyno.
We know that in the course of time, a good number of RS owners will end up fitting a larger turbocharger and our complete intake also allows for this, as well as incorporating improvements in air-flow and an aesthetic enhancement, too.
Be sure to check back in with us for plenty of new Focus RS kit and product update blogs over the coming weeks.
The mountune induction kit will be available to purchase in March (subject to Focus RS being available) at both mountunestore.com and mountuneusa.com and from all mountune dealers and re-sellers.