MHH International drives the astonishing Ford Focus RS
Impressively, this high-performance Ford pioneers the innovative Ford Performance all-wheel-drive (AWD) system coupled with Ford’s dynamic torque vectoring. This delivers absolutely class-leading cornering speed that is unmatched by any of the front-wheel-drive hot hatches. The whole package offers up absolutely thrilling performance and unbridled driving enjoyment. In short, this Focus RS is sensational.
Enthusiasts will love that the car is equipped with selectable Drive Modes – Normal, Sport, Race Track and (Hubbah! Hubbah!) a Drift Mode. Do not press that button unless you know what you are doing or are on a racetrack. There’s also a Launch Control mode, which is fun, if rather pointless. The steering has real feel to it, something that is missing from many cars today, and it weights up as the speed increases. Under heavy braking there is a slight sense of torque steer but it’s easily ignored.
With a specially engineered 345bhp (350PS) version of Ford’s new 2.3-litre EcoBoost engine, this high-performance hatchback is the fastest ever RS model, sprinting from 0-62mph in just 4.7 seconds and hitting a top speed of 165mph.
The all-new Focus RS is a serious machine with high-performance technology and innovative engineering that sets new benchmarks for driving at this price point.
The AWD system is based on twin electronically-controlled clutch packs on each side of the rear drive unit. 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.
During cornering, 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.
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 cubby space – the RS might just be too hard for everyday driving.
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 Focus RS features the most powerful brake system ever fitted to an RS model, with 350 mm 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.
The engine has been significantly upgraded for the Focus RS to deliver 10 per cent more power and delivering a visceral soundtrack. It has eco-attributes in that ere is a gear selection feature to suggest the optimum gear for economy 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.
Five striking exterior colours include Nitrous Blue, 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 as the centrepiece of the cockpit. Signature RS Recaro shell seats, with authentic motorsport microfibre fabric panels, are an option for customers in Europe and Asia.
The interior features the redesigned Focus control layout with its simpler, more intuitive design. SYNC 2 connectivity provides access to audio, navigation, climate control and mobile phones via voice control, and via a high-definition, 8-inch colour touchscreen. Simple voice commands such as “Find a race track” enable RS owners to get instant directions to the nearest public circuit. 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 including a subwoofer.
The RS driving experience is reinforced by a new flat-bottomed steering wheel with a soft-feel leather covered rim, alloy foot pedals, and unique instrument graphics within the main cluster. An additional bank of gauges above the centre console displays turbocharger boost pressure, oil temperature and oil pressure.
If it isn’t already apparent, we love this car and, if driving is in your blood, so will you.