If you are prone to nausea then please look away now as this article is a prime example of an over-the-top automotive love-in. You see, the word that immediately springs to my mind here is, Wow! I had to keep telling himself that this car is, after all, a Focus, the mainstay of the mainstream market. But this is no ordinary Ford, oh no. It is very special yet the vehicle in the images, with its special Ford Focus RS sparkly paint and a number of must-have extras, like those awesome wheels, costs just £36,545 in the UK which in my opinion is a bit of a bargain that sets new benchmarks for driving at this price point. See the full spec below.
First, The Nitpicks
There aren’t any. Well, okay, some of the plastics seem a bit cheap and the boot capacity, although usefully sized, isn’t best in class; but that’s about it.
The Ford Focus RS On The Road
Impressively, this high-performance car utilises the Ford Performance all-wheel-drive (AWD) system coupled with the company’s dynamic torque vectoring. This delivers absolutely class-leading cornering speed that is unmatched by any of the front-wheel-drive hot hatches. It’s like a WRC Rally car, running on rails. The whole package offers up an absolutely thrilling performance and unbridled driving enjoyment in my opinion. In short, this Ford Focus RS is sensational. Put your foot down and as the revolutions rise hearken to the heavenly choir of the sirens of speed sweetly singing.
Enthusiasts will love that the car is equipped with four selectable Drive Modes – Normal, Sport, Race Track and a Drift Mode. Do not press the latter two buttons unless you really know what you are doing or are actually on a racetrack. There’s also a Launch Control mode, which is fun, if rather pointless. The steering has a proper feel to it, something that is missing from so many cars today, and it weights up ideally as the speed increases.
A race-inspired, say Ford, six speed manual gearbox allows the driver to keep the RS at optimum torque and power points all the way through the rev range. The action is slick and it’s practically impossible to fumble a shift. Pick-up thanks to the twin-scroll turbo is almost instantaneous.
The Power Of The Ford Focus RS
With a specially engineered 345bhp (350PS) version of Ford’s new and rather brilliant 2.3-litre EcoBoost engine, this high-performance hatchback is the fastest ever RS model, say the company, sprinting from 0-62mph in just 4.7 seconds and hitting a top speed of 165mph (where allowed).
The AWD system is based on twin electronically-controlled clutch packs on each side of the rear drive unit, we learn. These manage the car’s front-to-rear torque split, and also can control the side-to-side torque distribution at the rear axle delivering the “torque vectoring” capability, which has a dramatic impact on handling and cornering stability. In short, the tech boys have nailed handling on the Ford Focus RS.
During cornering, Ford explain, the rear drive unit pre-emptively diverts torque to the outer rear wheel based on inputs such as steering wheel angle, lateral acceleration, yaw and speed. This torque transfer has the effect of “driving” the car into the bend, achieving improved turn-in and stability, and virtually eliminating understeer. What this means in layman’s terms is, ‘Whoopee’!
Other exclusive chassis features include sports suspension with stiffer spring rates – increased by 33 per cent front and 38 per cent rear – and more efficient anti-roll-bars than those found in the Focus ST, and two-mode switchable dampers, which offer a 40 per cent firmer Sport setting for track driving.
Even in Normal mode this car is stiff. Although it has all the attributes of a medium family five door hatch – good-sized boot, 4/5 seats, plenty of storage space – the RS might just be too hard for everyday driving some might think, although we got used to it very quickly. No doubt this was because we were too busy enjoying the drive.
The Features Of The Ford Focus RS
The vehicle’s exterior design has also been developed to support the driving dynamics. Careful aerodynamic optimisation of the front splitter, rear spoiler and underbody features eliminates lift forces, and the final design delivers a balanced performance with zero lift front and rear for optimum high-speed handling and stability.
The vehicle features the most powerful brake system ever fitted to an RS model, with 350mm ventilated front discs and aluminium Brembo four-piston monoblock callipers – painted in distinctive RS blue with a Brembo logo available as an option. The new 2.3-litre EcoBoost engine shares its fundamental structure with the all-aluminium four-cylinder engine in the new Ford Mustang (also tremendous by the way).
The engine has been significantly upgraded for the Focus RS to deliver 10 per cent more power whilst singing a visceral song. It has eco-attributes too in that there is a gear selection feature to suggest the optimum gear for economy when pottling about as well as a stop/start feature to cut idling. Ford reckon that an average fuel use figure would be around 36mpg but you are unlikely to see that in the real world. It’s too much fun burning the stuff, frankly.
Five striking exterior colours include Nitrous Blue (pictured), a vibrant four-coat metallic finish exclusive to the RS, as well as Stealth Grey, Shadow Black, Magnetic Grey and Frozen White. Standard Bi-Xenon HID headlamps feature Adaptive Front Lighting, which adjusts the intensity and angle of the headlamp beams according to vehicle speed, steering angle and distance to objects for optimal illumination. Customers also can specify the latest Active City Stop automatic braking technology.
The high-performance character of the RS is reflected inside the car with heavily-bolstered partial-leather Recaro sports seats (option) at the heart of the cockpit although the standard seats are more comfortable, I would suggest.
The redesigned Focus control layout isn’t the most exciting I’ve seen to be honest. Its an intuitive design though with SYNC 2 connectivity providing access to audio, navigation, climate control and mobile phones via voice control, and via a high-definition, 8-inch colour touchscreen. SYNC 2 also can be specified with Rear View Camera with park distance control, as well as a Sony premium sound system with 10-speakers for those driving tunes.
The driving experience is enhanced by a flat-bottomed steering wheel with a soft-feel leather covered rim, alloy foot pedals, and unique instrument graphics within the main cluster. An old-school (thankfully) additional bank of gauges above the centre console displays turbocharger boost pressure, oil temperature and oil pressure.
If you have a little extra cash Ford have just announced a new ‘Edition’ version of this car which adds a few choice morsels to an already satisfying meal. This includes primarily a mechanical limited slip differential for the front axle to further enhance handling. Tasty.
If I haven’t already made it quite clear, I love this car and, if driving is in your blood, so will you. Even Mrs DriveWrite, who usually hates hot hatches with a passion, loved it. It must be rubbing off. Geoff Maxted