Ford Focus RS
The wait is over, the new Focus RS is here, and Auto Express has already put it through its paces!
Sticking the legendary RS badge onto the back of just any old hot hatch wasn’t an option for Ford. It needed to make a jaw dropping performance machine – and it has succeeded! While the new Focus RS lacks the delicate feel of a lively hot hatch, its epic pace, never-ending cornering grip and enticing sound track make it an instant classic. There’s no doubt it will cost a fortune to run, but that won’t stop the Focus RS from putting a smile on the face of everyone who gets behind the wheel.
Following in the tracks of legends like the whale-tail Sierra Cosworth of the Eighties and the famous Escort Cossie of the Nineties, the new Focus RS has some ground to make up if it is to be accepted as an all-time fast Ford great. The Mk1 Focus RS is fondly remembered, yet its wayward torque steering handling took the shine off the driving experience.
At first glance, it’s clear Ford has not held anything back with its latest high performance model. From the deep gloss black front splitter at the front to the swollen wheel arches at the sides and the huge tailgate roof spoiler, this Focus screams RS from every panel. And that theme continues when you start the engine…
A heavily re-engineered version of the ST’s powerplant, the five-cylinder unit settles to a subdued idle. However, once on the move it sounds like it’s tearing its way through the air, whooshing and popping as it delivers devastating pace.
Ford claims a 0-62mph time of 5.9 seconds, and we have no reason to doubt it. The engine’s full torque isn’t available in first gear, but once you slot the gearbox into second the instant thrust continues right up to the extended 7,050rpm redline. Grab the next ratio and the onslaught of acceleration continues.
But surely with all this torque going through the front tyres, the wheels couldn’t possibly cope with cornering, too? On smooth, dry tarmac at least, they can. Ford has developed a clever new suspension set-up called RevoKnuckle, which aims to rid the Focus of a writhing steering wheel under full throttle acceleration.
Apply the power when cornering and it’s clear the technology really works. Where the Focus ST would push wide, the RS grips and goes with the efficiency of a true supercar. While the meaty steering keeps you informed with what’s going on, there’s none of the playful handling traits of a hot hatch. Instead, Ford has created a true high performance model with both road and track pace that few cars will be able to match.
Our test route on the challenging mountain roads above Nice in France were perfect for showing off the Focus’s amazing performance…but did its fuel economy no favours. By the end of the day the trip read-out told us we had averaged 14mpg! That’s what we’d expect from a supercar, and less than half the official 30mpg combined figure.
While you’ll have to set aside huge sums for fuel and insurance, the Ford’s list price is less imposing. At £24,995, the RS seems pricey for a Focus, but this is no modified hatchback, it’s a tremendous performance machine.
The RS legend lives on!