Ford Motor Co. is reviving its RS badge with the unveiling of the European-only ‘09 Focus RS hatchback today at the London International Auto Show.

Rolled out in pre-production form sporting electric-green paint, the RS builds on the current turbocharged 5-cyl. ST model with upgraded dynamics, power and World Rally Championship styling cues.

Ford of Europe says final details may change prior to the car going on sale early next year but pegs the Duratec 2.5L I-5’s output at 296 hp and more than 302 lb.-ft. (410 Nm) of torque. Modifications include revised camshafts, cylinder head and intake and exhaust tracts, as well as new turbo plumbing and boost programming.

The 6-speed manual gearbox, also sourced from the Focus ST, transfers power to the 19-in. wheels through a Quaife limited-slip differential.

Further managing the power are lowered, widened and stiffened suspension setups featuring a RevoKnuckle layout in front. This unique configuration works with the standard McPherson strut suspension, the auto maker says, but with special geometry settings that help minimize steering disturbances and torque steer.

“As you would expect, we gave all-wheel-drive careful consideration, but by combining and tuning these elements and learning from Ford’s expertise and industry-leading handling, we have managed to eliminate the weight of AWD from the car and still have been able to target a class-leading balance of traction, handling and performance,” says Jost Capito, Ford of Europe vehicle line director-performance vehicles.

Also new are larger 4-wheel disc brakes, a more-precise steering rack and a sport-tuned version of Ford’s electronic-stability programming.

Exterior highlights include wider wheel arches and an aggressive nose accented by hood louvers, piano-black trim and a large-mouth, rally-car-inspired fascia. Dual-exhaust outlets, an integrated diffuser and a high-mounted spoiler distinguish the rear.

Changes to the interior, such as numerous Ford/RS logos and carbon and metallic trim pieces, mostly are aesthetic, but the new thick-bolstered Recaro seats should be helpful during aggressive cornering.

The new RS reportedly will be built in a run of about 9,000 units over the next two or three years, with Ford expected to provide additional details, including pricing and options, closer to the vehicle’s launch.

msutton@wardsauto.com