For hot hatch fans, it was a miracle that Ford delivered the all-wheel-drive Focus RS to North America for the first time. It became the hottest hatch in a lineup of greats, including the Fiesta ST and Focus ST. The RS sports 350 horsepower in a fun-to-drive package. As great as it is off the dealer lot, however, these cars don’t attract the kind of owners that will leave them stock.
It’s immediately apparent just how far past efficiency the stock turbo is at higher RPM, and this is exactly where the Precision unit shines! — Andy Ricketts, Livernois Motorsports
There are lots of bolt-on upgrades that will easily enhance its output, but if you want to take a Focus RS to the next level you will want to upgrade the factory turbocharger in favor of something with more airflow. Fortunately Precision Turbo & Engine offers a direct-replacement turbo upgrade (PN 11918; $2,795) designed to take your hot hatch to the next level.
The Focus RS’ 2.3-liter engine is already a potent performer, but this owner is obviously all about adding more power as evidenced by the direct-port methanol — which was used to supplement the fuel system before the injector upgrade — and Mountune cold-air intake. As such, this car was an ideal candidate for an upgraded turbo. (Photo Credit: Livernois Motorsports & Engineering)
“Like the 2.0 EcoBoost, the 2.3 EcoBoost in the Focus RS runs out of turbo rather easily without many modifications needed,” Andy Ricketts, Vehicle Operations Manager at Livernois Motorsports & Engineering, explained. “With just an upgraded calibration, the car can hit the limit of the turbo. This is typically in the 330-350 all-wheel-horsepower range.”
“For those wanting more power out of their Focus RS our turbo is the way to go,” Reggie Wynn, Sales & Marketing Manager at Turbonetics/Precision, added. “With the stock unit maxing out at 400 horsepower using our turbo will allow you to push over 600 horsepower with supporting mods and tune. It’s a direct bolt-on. It fits in the stock location using factory oil and water lines.”
The Precision Turbo & Engine 2.3-liter EcoBoost Focus RS Turbocharger Upgrade (PN 11918; $2,795) offers a number of improvements over the factory unit (see sidebar), but it still utilizes a responsive twin-scroll design and readily accepts the factory oil and cooler lines. “We are excited to come to market with a turbo that performs as well as it does,” Reggie Wynn, Sales & Marketing Manager at Turbonetics/Precision said. “In the day and age where there are more turbocharged vehicles being produced from the factory. The Focus RS has the X factor. It’s a modern-day tuner car, where the owners are looking to get more performance out of it.” (Photo Credit: Precision Turbo & Engine)
Designed to deliver the factory-engineered performance in a responsive package, the stock turbo works well. However, once you start pushing this snail outside of its performance shell the returns start to taper off.
For those wanting more power out of their Focus RS our turbo is the way to go. — Reggie Wynn, Precision Turbo
“Newly designed larger compressor wheel and turbine wheels which produce more air,” Reggie said. “More air means more power. For added durability our unit features dual ceramic ball bearings. All backed by our one-year, no-fault, no-hassle warranty.”
Before installing that spiffy, new Precision turbo, Livernois technicians removed the belly pan, unbolt the exhaust, disconnect the oil/coolant lines, and unbolt the stock turbo.
Better yet, as we mentioned, this unit bolts on in place of the factory turbocharger, so there isn’t any custom fabrication required. Just remove the stock unit and replace it with the Precision unit, which is what Livernois did on one of its in-house projects.
“The direct-fit, engineered-for-this-specific car approach is exactly why we wanted to go with this turbo,” Andy said. “Some real design and thought went into everything on this to ensure it was a great choice and fit for these cars, while adding some real power potential.”
Next they slid the turbo into place. It is a tight fit, which can make the install a bit tricky for the first-timers, but it does fit, so don’t worry. “Our expert shops can do the installation between three to four hours. However, that time can easily double for someone who has never done this before due to the location of the turbo on the engine,” Reggie explained. “This is a job where having a lift would be super helpful. Pro tip: Most shops drop the engine (which gives you easy access to install the turbo).”
Because of the tight confines of the Focus RS engine packaging, even a direct-replacement turbo is a little tricky to install. It can be done, but the experienced installers like Livernois can make quicker work of it.
“The install definitely takes some skill and time due to the amount of components that need to be removed for a successful install,” Andy said. “One of the greatest features on the RS is its largest downfall when installing modifications. The all-wheel-drive components take up a good bit of real estate in a small platform.”
Focus RS Mods
• Livernois Motorsports direct-port methanol injection system
• Livernois Motorsports flex-fuel custom tuning
• Livernois Motorsports/Nostrum Energy upgraded direct injectors
Whether you install the Precision replacement yourself or have it installed by a pro, you will need some hardware and tuning to make the most of its capabilities.
“To get the most out of this turbo the following items are suggested: a custom tune, a drop-in performance air filter, and a free-flowing cat-back exhaust, which helps the spooling characteristics of the turbo,” Reggie said.
Next up the Livernois team reconnected the coolant, oil, and vacuum connections, which are readily accepted by Precision’s direct-replacement Focus RS turbo upgrade.
“While you could in theory put the turbo on a stock vehicle and have some gains realized from its improved high-RPM efficiency and ability to keep boost levels flat rather than falling off like the OEM piece, to really take advantage of this turbo you would want to add in some items to help with fueling at a minimum, and if you’re wanting to push it above the 380- to 400-horsepower range, an engine upgrade should be looked at,” Andy added.
Of course an important part of what Livernois brings to the table with an upgrade like this is creating a custom calibration to maximize its efficacy. Using its MyCalibrator flash tuner, the company’s tuners dialed in a new calibration to deliver a balance of performance and driveability. The company also offers fuel system upgrades for the direct-injection system employed on the RS.
With the turbo in place, Livernois reinstalled the exhaust system and reconnected the Mountune cold-air intake to wrap up the installation. With the hardware in place, its calibrators dialed in a custom Flex Fuel tune to make the most of the upgraded Precision turbocharger.
“For this upgrade, we decided to make the car as versatile as possible, offering an upgrade only we offer and have the tuning for. This car received our Flex Fuel upgrade which features our upgraded calibration and software, as well as the necessary items to make it all work properly,” Andy said. “Our upgraded high-pressure fuel pump, as well as upgraded, high-flow injectors, and for those times when you want to run max power on 93, or improve performance even more than normal with E85 or our direct-port methanol injection. All of these pieces make it possible to have a versatile and reliable combo that has plenty of room to grow!”
As a result of the turbo upgrade and the supporting upgrades, this Focus RS pumped out over 413.48 horsepower and 430.75 lb-ft of torque at the wheels.
With the addition of the Precision turbo upgrade, this Focus RS jumped from 384.79 to 413.48 horsepower at the wheels, accounting for a gain of over 28 horsepower. With a built short-block this combo could easily be pumped up to over 500 ponies at the wheels.
“We were quite pleased to see so much power gained while keeping similar boost levels,” Andy said. “It’s immediately apparent just how far past efficiency the stock turbo is at higher RPM, and this is exactly where the Precision unit shines! Any time you can make that much power at the same, or very similar boost levels is always a benefit worth having!”
Of course, you could push the performance much higher with a built short-block, but this gives you a great idea of what can be gained with just a turbo upgrade.
Precision Focus RS Turbo Upgrade Features
• 600-horsepower capable with supporting mods and custom tune
• Direct drop-in replacement and install without modifications
• Divided twin-scroll turbine housing for improved throttle response
• Dual ceramic ball bearings for more durability and response
• High-efficiency compressor and turbine wheels for more horsepower, better response, and less lag
• Investment-cast HK30 stainless turbine housing designed to withstand high temperatures
• One-year, no-fault, no-hassle warranty
• Ported shroud compressor housing for enhanced compressor map width