I used to like our old Focus ST. I liked the way it handled, sounded, looked and drove, and many times I would get out of more exotic machinery to get back into the Focus and not once was I disappointed. (Except with the too-high seating position, but that didn’t spoil it too much.) It was therefore a sad day when Ford called the office to remind us that the ST had to go.
You know the score by now, Ford has taken the already great-handling Focus and worked on the 2.5 turbo engine by adding a whopping great Borg Warner turbo (giving twice the pressure of the turbo found in the Focus ST), reworked cylinder heads, pistons and camshaft. The track has been increased by 40mm, nicely filling out the unique body panels and it stops by using 336mm ventilated discs. As a reader of PH, you are probably aware that this car is front-wheel drive and not four-wheel drive as many suspected it would be. Truth is, though, it doesn’t need 4WD as the car never suffers for having 300bhp channelled through its front wheels, thanks to the clever people at Ford being apparently able to defy the laws of physics.
Stop reading for a moment, and take a look at the pictures. How purposeful does this car look? It wants to eat your pet dog simply because it can. Aggressive? Oh yes indeed.
The RS is fast - oh my it’s fast - and happily kept up with the rest of the team on the way to Le Mans, despite being as much as 200bhp down compared with the others. Power seems to be available whenever you want it and getting it down onto the tarmac isn’t an issue even from a standstill. The brakes are just as good, but the single stand-out feature is the way that it goes around corners. There aren’t enough clichés to describe it, to be honest, but think of sticky things and blankets and you will be about there. On the way to Le Mans we met some lovely twisties and, with RacingPete leading the way in the BMW M5, I knew we would be taking them fast. The M5, RS and Audi R8 left the others in the group behind, and the Focus had plenty more left in it. I can honestly say that I believe I had the most capable car in the group for road work, and my selfishness meant that I rarely offered the keys to anyone else, even when offered a swap with the DB9. I was quite happy where I was thank you very much.
When in Le Mans, it was certainly a head-turner and seemed to command a certain amount of respect from those that came and spoke to me about it. The same is true at home, where driving the blue Ford gets you into conversations with people you don’t know, usually of the ‘how much?’ and ‘how fast?’ variety.
Worried that someone from Ford had put something in my coffee, I thought I’d ask fellow PHer ThatPhilBrettGuy for a second opinion as I knew he had recently sampled the Fast Ford. Over to you Phil…
“Tom Ford (Top Gear magazine) has written that the Focus RS can be quicker than the Ford GT over a B-road course. It’s a bold statement. It needed testing.
After a gentle run out of London, it doesn’t look hopeful for the RS. It’s quite stiffly sprung, more so that the GT in fact. There’s plenty of torque and in fact you could probably throw away 50 per cent of the gears available and it’ll still work well, but it’s obviously not in the time warping acceleration league as the GT.
Until you overcook it that is, when the car gently taps you on the shoulder and warns you to back off a bit. Get it that wrong in the GT and it’ll be tapping you on the shoulder and handing you a phone pre-dialled with your insurance company claim office number. Sure, if you could drive both cars at 100 per cent the GT would walk away from the RS. But the confidence the RS gives will always tip the balance.
You do get the odd hint at front-wheel drive coming into play from time to time, but to be honest it wouldn’t matter if it were driven by one wheel on a pole stuck out of a headlight. It’s great fun. That alone makes it worthy of the RS badge.
I’d like to say that no animals were harmed making this report (just like in the films). Sorry about that Mr Rabbit…