Ford Focus RS: Signing-off as one great turbo rocket hatch
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While it feels like we were just getting to love the Ford Focus RS (we were, the model’s only 2 years old) we have to come to the reality that all great things come to an end. Luckily, for the Focus RS, the ones that survive after this last year will undoubtedly become highly sought-after cars.
It doesn’t take much math or any physics to realize that if you take a relatively lithe 3,434-pound vehicle and pack it with a 2.3-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine that produces 350 horsepower and 350 lb.-ft. of torque, you have what is commonly called a rocket sled.
While the beauty of the Ford Focus RS is certainly steeped in the very fun relationship created between the vehicle’s weight and the powerplant, and in the resulting 0-to-60-in-under-5-seconds performance spec, there is a lot more that’s going good for the Focus RS driver.
The Focus RS has a sophisticated all-wheel-drive system with a torque-vectoring rear differential; four-piston 350mm Brembo brakes, Recaro seats and electronically adjustable shocks. Not bad for a vehicle whose base price is $41,120 and lays claim to being the fastest Focus ever created.
Ford delivers this hatchback with an impressive set of the most aggressive performance tires available, the Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2, which grip onto gorgeous 19-inch rims. With this much performance on demand, you need braking power to the max. Huge Brembos are capable of stifeling the Focus RS from any reasonable (and unreasonable, too) speed without exhibiting any fade.
While the 19-inch rims speak volumes of what lies beneath the hood of the RS, the exterior lines of the Focus are definitively sporty and extreme. Yes, this is a hatchback, but there’s no other hatchback in this class doing what this one does; so, why don’t you just call it ‘hatch’ for short, if nothing else, out of respect.
Like many of the performance sedans that cost thousands more, the Focus RS driver has a choice of Sport, Track or Drift modes at the touch of a button. Most notable is the Drift mode that allows you to take fun driving to a level that borders on juvenile (read: thrilling again) sometimes. With the Drift setting engaged, you can push your RS hard into a corner, expectantly feel the tail end slide out, contersteer to offset, and smile as the Focus holds itself on line and “drifts” through the turn.
Also in-line with some of those expensive performance sedans is the Focus RS’ suspension system and steering response, which are independently adjustable for the driver. The system allows you to soften the dampers for crass pavement, all while keeping steering and throttle response advanced (and traction/stability control minimized).
Thank goodness there are Recaro sport seats (power-adjustable, too) and a fantastic sport steering wheel that reminds the driver they are in the RS version – otherwise, they might think it was merely the normal Focus, which it feels like. The instrumentation, as well as the cabin materials, are the same as the standard model, though Navigation was added as an option for 2018.
It’s hard to celebrate the end-of-production run for a distinctly different high-performing automobile, I’d rather just nod my respects and hit the Drift button one more time.
This auto review was researched and written by SteinPro Content Services and provided to the Sun-Times for publication