We previewed a host of hot hatches in advance of this year’s show, one of which is a Focus RS designed to excel in just about any environment. It was created by the crew at VMP Performance who are well versed in maximizing the fun factor of modern Ford machinery. Thus the company was again selected to create a unique machine for display inside Ford’s coveted SEMA Show display.
We set out to create a car that would do well in all three disciplines. — BJ McCarty, VMP Performance
Much like last year’s stunning Track Attack Mustang, the mission for the VMP Focus RS project was maximum all-around performance.
“The RS is an unusual beast. It’s sort of the hot hatch version of the GT350,” BJ elaborated. “GT350s certainly aren’t just a road course car. They are great touring cars, attention getters at every ‘Cars & Coffee,’ and yes, people even drag race them. We had our VMP GT350 with the front tires off the ground probably before the Dodge Demon was even in concept!”
Heating Up A Hatch
Take that cutting-edge attitude and passion for performance and apply it to Ford Performance’s hottest hatch. It’s a car that is already tuned up to handle well, drift and more from the factory, so VMP set out to heighten and expand its capabilities.
“To that end, we set out to create a car that would do well in all three disciplines,” BJ explained. “We could take it to the drag strip and flog it, taking advantage of all-wheel drive. We could drive it to a track day and have fun flinging it around the turns, and have a car that would look menacing as a street cruiser. Three events, one player — it’s our Triathlete.”
To embody the spirit of its moniker, this Focus RS underwent an aggressive appearance makeover, which includes a custom matte-black paint scheme with airbrushed graphics by Chris Cruz Artistry, carbon fiber accents, and more. All together the package definitely achieved the goal BJ set for the car.
We wanted it to look like it was fast even while sitting still. — BJ McCarty, VMP Performance
“The carbon fiber aero pieces from Anderson Composites underscore the look as does filling the wheel wells with the concave look of the Forgestar CF5s and the Michelin Pilot Super Sport 4 s tires in 255/35-19 on all four corners,” BJ added. “And, of course, there’s the ability to adjust ride height on the fly.”
Taking A Stance
To set that low and adjustable stance, VMP replaced the factory dampers and springs with a performance air suspension. It offers not only a performance upgrade, but the ability to set appropriate ride height for the situation.
“We wanted the ability to show and go,” BJ said. “At stock ride height the car didn’t display the attitude we were looking for when it was static. The Airlift Performance Suspension allowed us to drop it to the point where the tires are touching without it looking ‘slammed.’ There isn’t a good option for flares for the RS yet, so we wanted to take advantage of as much stance as we could by using the drop and the wheel/tire combo. It actually accentuates the car’s natural ‘flares.’”
This suspension wasn’t just about the ride height, however. This system fit within VMP’s mission to improve the car’s performance as well.
“When we discussed our target with the folks at Airlift, we of course spec’d the performance line rather than stance,” BJ elaborated. “They are fully adjustable and have been proven to rival, if not exceed, the results of coilovers.”
In practice this setup really seems to work so far, though VMP hasn’t had a chance to really stretch the Triathlete’s legs in advance of its show debut.
Pushing The Envelope
VMP Triathlete Focus RS Mods
Ford Performance cat-back exhaust
Ford Performance short-throw shifter
Ford Performance Drift Stick
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
Air Lift Performance series suspension
DBA USA 4000 series T3 front/rear slotted rotors
Wheels & Tires
Forgestar CF5 Deep Concave custom, matte black, 19×9.5-inch wheels
Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 high-performance (265/35ZR19) tires
Chris Cruz Artistry full custom paint in matte black with airbrushed graphics
Anderson Composites carbon fiber hood
Anderson Composites rear spoiler
Anderson Composites front splitter
Anderson Composites rear diffuser
Anderson Composites rocker panels and foglight surround
Diode Dynamics lighting with RetroShop custom fitment
Anchor Room lens tint
Brey-Krause custom bolt-in harness bar
Simpson Racing five-point harness
Ford Accessories carbon fiber shift knob
Ford Accessories carbon fiber instrument cluster
Ford Accessories carbon fiber window switch cover
Ford Accessories cargo area protector
After its show appearance, that development will continue with a greater emphasis on increasing the output of the already potent 2.3-liter EcoBoost engine.
“We want to see the power into the 350-plus-rear-wheel-horsepower level and torque in the high 300s,” he said. “Most of these cars are in the 290/300 range stock. For now, it’s a Cobb cold air, a Levels Performance intercooler, Turbosmart wastegate actuator, and custom tuning using the Cobb Accessport.”
How far they can push the platform in the future remains to be seen, but we look forward to following its progress.
“The overall plan is to have a car with enough power to balance its work without necessitating fortifying the bottom end, adding auxiliary fueling, and living on the edge,” BJ said.
The good news is that all the upgrades thus far are available and can bolt right on to your Focus RS if you are inclined to muscle-up your Focus RS like the Triathlete.
“Just like with Track Attack, we set out to use components that were available via our website, and everything on our Triathlete will be available in our store, plus we can install it all,”BJ concluded. “Other than the full custom paint job, everything can be bolted on.”
For more on those upgrades, you can visit the VMP Performance official site here.