new 163mph Focus RS marks
a welcome return for the RS Rallye
Sport badge which has played such
an important role in Fords
AT LONG LAST FORD'S AWESOME THREE-DOOR 'SUPERCAR', the
305bhp Focus RS, is with us. Such is the demand in the UK that we are having
4,000 units that's 50 per cent of Ford's lifetime Focus
RS production total of just 8,000 cars.
And the news from this week's media launch is that on the day the RS hit
UK showrooms, already half of those 4,000 are sold. Clearly even a recession
in the new car market hasn't dampened demand from RS enthusiasts and increasing
numbers of new car buyers moving away from hard-core all-wheel drive race- and
rally-bred supercars. Keen drivers of 'premium' brand fast cars, who still want
performance but at a more reasonable price, see the £25,740 RS as a good option.
The RS is a natural progression from the Focus ST which has the same core 2.5-litre,
five-cylinder, turbocharged petrol engine. But for the RS it has been developed
in every area to boost power and, more importantly, torque. This unit produces
a massive 324lb ft, available through a broad rev range of 2,300 to 4,500rpm,
but which is, impressively, still evident up to 6,500rpm. Turbo boost pressure
has been doubled from .7 bar (used for the ST) to 1.4bar for the RS. Top speed
is 163mph and 0-62mph takes a sharp 5.9 seconds.
So, whichever of the six gears the car is being driven in and whatever the speed
of the RS, there is always torque available for phenomenal response and acceleration.
The most intriguing thing is that all this power is put on the road through
just the front wheels courtesy of the latest state-of-the-art Quaife
helical limited slip differential and RevoKnuckle front suspension and steering
RevoKnuckle does many things but to keep it simple all you need to know is that
its 'C'-shaped mount is connected to both the hub and the MacPherson struts
either side of the front of the car. This double connection keeps the kingpin
offsets much more consistent, no matter what load each front wheel is placed
under. Not only has it allowed Ford to fine-tune the handling of the RS, but
another benefit is that it reduces tyre wear caused by fast cornering. Thicker
and longer anti-roll bars and increased diameter front and rear disc brakes
over the Focus ST accommodate the added performance.
Torque-steer is just about evident, but not very much in wet or dry conditions
or on smooth or rough road surfaces. The steering felt pretty heavy at all speeds
but it needs to be precise and it is. Power delivery and the use
of that power are the real technical highlights of the RS, whether an
owner wants it for road use or for trackdays.
Not having the added weight of an all-wheel drive system (such as those used
by Subaru Impreza WRX STI or Lancer Evolution models) allows maximum performance
and, of course, reduces cost. As far as I can tell there is very little loss
in performance, grip and traction by having just the front-wheel drive system
used for the RS over a four-wheel drive layout. Ice and snowy conditions might
cause us all to rethink that impression but for now the RS is unbelievably impressive.
So we have raw power, seemingly endless grip, a relatively comfortable ride
and a very competitive price. Add to those the high visual impact with a massive
rear wing, unmissable rear diffuser and 19-inch wheels plus the usual side body
skirts and the RS definitely looks the 'business'. Thankfully, though, it isn't
The cabin is generally well done with excellent and shapely Recaro front seats
and a full instrumentation pack. It takes a while to locate all the controls
and dials because there are so many of them but it all adds to the RS image.
For? All the Ps: Price, Performance and Pace. Against? If you order now (April
'09), having to wait until November to take delivery. David Miles
Ford Focus RS | £25,740
Maximum speed: 163mph | 0-62mph: 5.9 seconds | Overall test MPG: 24.2mpg
Power: 305bhp | Torque: 324lb ft | CO2 225g/km