RE: Ford Focus RS Red Edition: Driven

RE: Ford Focus RS Red Edition: Driven

Wednesday 18th April 2018

Ford Focus RS Red Edition: Driven

Race Red paint signals last orders for the Mk3 Focus RS. We're going to miss it.



Let's not get too hung up on the colour here. Yes, the RS Red Edition is red - Race Red, as a matter of fact - and, no, you couldn't have an RS in red before, and, yes, there's more than a hint of life-cycle-ending marketing gimmick about the whole idea of paying a premium for it in red now. But think of this less as a 'hello Red Edition', and more a 'goodbye third generation RS', because while there might be a Heritage Edition left to come - exclusively in Tief Orange, no less - the car tested here already sports the optional FPM375 Mountune upgrade that model gets as standard. So, mechanically speaking at least, this is the way the Mk3 Focus RS will be remembered.

That's significant for two reasons. One, the next iteration of the RS - based on the recently revealed fourth generation car - will almost certainly be a mild hybrid, and therefore fundamentally different to the current incumbent. And, two, love it or hate it, the outgoing RS has well-earned an early epitaph. Not since Mitsubishi's introduction of Active Yaw Control in the mid nineties has all-wheel drive been so overtly dedicated to the business of having fun - and even if Ford over egged the salad with the misnomer that is 'Drift' mode, the car reminded us just what could be done if you got all imaginative about how best to deploy peak torque.

Read more: Ford Focus RS Heritage Edition launched

Its resulting notoriety has not faded. There are virtually no shrinking violets in the fast Ford back catalouge, and while there are several things wrong with the way the RS looks that have nothing to do with paint (it has too many doors for a start), it has always fitted the bill. Undeniably, the Mk2 was better looking and handily stockier, but no-one is ever going to mistake the Red Edition for a stock Focus, and that's very much the point. Understatedness and sophistication are for Volkswagen; the RS is about making a point in the least bashful way possible.


Inside, its chief foible is apparently insurmountable. Certainly any other manufacturer would, by now, have conceived a way of mounting the front seats so they didn't start halfway up the door cards, but Ford has grimly persisted with modelling the driving position on a Transit. In fairness, after living with the car for a while you notice your proximity to the ceiling less - and the partial leather Recaro seats themselves are very decent. They're standard too, as is much else in the high-spec Red Edition, including the SYNC3 Navigation system, a rear view camera, power-fold mirrors, 19-inch black alloys (to go with the RS Edition black spoiler) and a heated steering wheel.

Otherwise the latest, greatest variant delivers the stock experience: ash-grey plastic, inexpensive switchgear, blue-ish dials and passable build quality. Thankfully the control weights are familiar, too - and a reminder of Ford's talent for tuning such things: nothing that needs pushing, turning or shifting operates without a progressive and oily sort of heft. The RS doesn't attempt to imitate a regular Focus at slow speeds either; there's no Golf R-style modesty here. The rumble of the 2.3-litre Ecoboost motor is never distant, nor is the callousy stiffness of its always-surly trick chassis.


Certainly the RS has never seemed particularly light on its tyres, and the additional power (and torque) afforded by the Mountune kit does nothing much to alter that impression. Ford says the tuner's Β£899 add-on lowers the 0-62mph time to 4.5 seconds, yet even with it attached the car feels a notch below the current hot hatch big league. Self-assured, linear and industrious the turbocharged four-pot may very well be, but it can't claim to possess the pyrotechnics or ultimate payload of Audi's 2.5-litre inline five or AMG's 2.0-litre engine. Granted, both are installed in substantially pricier cars. But they provide the straight-line yardstick nonetheless.

Truth be told, straight lines were never the RS's strongest suit anyway. Under heavy acceleration it still has a tendency to track with the vagaries of a B road's camber, a habit which, when combined with 376lb ft of overboost, occasionally has you wrestling with the steering wheel for supremacy. Its ride, even in the more gentle 'Normal' mode, is percussive enough to feel fidgety over really difficult surfaces, making the adaptive dampers' second stage of abruptness generally inadvisable for everyday driving. It's not inconceivable that you might even take issue with the length of the gear lever's throw.

Mercifully though, and usually just before you really start to hold its unruliness against it, a corner pops up and the RS lunges at it in the singular, sensational fashion that has been its three-year calling card. Mostly it is about balance, and the car's superlative ability to thrust through a constant radius turn in phases: feeling faithfully nose-biased, then neutral, then, finally, if you insist, hip-sendingly rear-powered - all in the space of about half a second, and all within a particularly obliging ESP bubble. The RS Red Edition (like the non-Red RS Edition) adds a Quaife limited-slip differential into the mix, with the intention of increasing mechanical grip, which it does, which just makes the initial bit faster and neater still.


The Focus is so keen to keep you happy in fact that it is possible to mildly dissapprove of its high jinks; after all, this is a comparatively heavy family hatchback being made to overspeed its outside rear wheel by a very clever all-wheel drive system - the automotive equivalent of having an elephant perch on a bar stool. With the overwrought 'Drift' mode engaged this is understandable, but such objections do tend to occur at a distance, and not while you're merrily driving the door handles off the thing. That's because the latter is very easy to do, and very easy to enjoy - not least because Ford didn't forget to make every stage of the caper feel completely knowable to the driver, which means that nothing happens without a genuine sense of engagement; the quality we prize above all else.

That it comes hand-in-hand with a hooligan-style reputation is merely par for the course. In its brief tenure, the RS has grown no softer or easier to live with; indeed, if anything, it has become more uncompromising, powerful and expensive. The Red Edition in the spec we drove it topped out at Β£37,385 with options, meaning you could have a top spec Honda Civic Type R and a good year of petrol money instead. You'd have a better all-round mega-fast hot hatch, too. But I'd sorely miss the Focus's tearaway attitude and its bludgeoning inability to hide it. When it's finally gone, I suspect we all will - no matter what colour its paint.

Inspired? Search Ford Focus RS for sale on PistonHeads Classifieds


SPECIFICATION - FORD FOCUS RS RED EDITION

Engine: 2,261cc 4-cyl turbo
Transmission: 6-speed manual, all-wheel drive
Power (hp): 350@6,000rpm (375 with FPM375 upgrade)
Torque (lb ft): 347@2,000-4,500rpm (376 with FPM375 upgrade)
0-62mph: 4.7sec (4.5sec with FPM375 upgrade)
Top speed: 165mph
Weight: 1,599kg (inc. 75kg driver)
MPG: 36.7
CO2: 175g/km
Price: Β£36,325

Photos: Luc Lacey/Stan Papior

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Author
Discussion

TTmonkey

Original Poster:

14,932 posts

192 months

Wednesday 18th April 2018
quotequote all
What's so wrong with it being red then? Yes its not a shocking colour, but it will brighten up a really dull car park.

Sick of black, grey and silver and even white cars.

Jon_S_Rally

545 posts

33 months

Wednesday 18th April 2018
quotequote all
I couldn't really work out if this review was positive or not to be honest, just pretty hard going to read.

Regardless, I think it looks great in red. Should have been a stock colour for the RS all along, as the standard colour range was too dull in my view.

Usual moaning about it having too many doors too. Funny, the Saph Cosworth has four doors, but no one seems to claim that isn't 'proper'.

woodro

1 posts

17 months

Wednesday 18th April 2018
quotequote all
How come in all the glowing reviews I head on these RS's , no-one ever mentions their alarming propensity to destroy engines at extremely low mileages ? My brother has been through 3 engines in as many years, all did less than 10k, ( one 3k ! ). A quick search on the web reveals he is not the only one, yet all I ever read is how great they are. And the hassle to get Ford to admit there is a problem and replace them was unbelievable.

mooseracer

551 posts

115 months

Wednesday 18th April 2018
quotequote all
Jon_S_Rally said:
Usual moaning about it having too many doors too. Funny, the Saph Cosworth has four doors, but no one seems to claim that isn't 'proper'.
At the time people absolutely did!

RacerMike

2,443 posts

156 months

Wednesday 18th April 2018
quotequote all
Worth mentioning that you can buy a kit that lowers the seats to a sensible height. I have them in mine and it transforms the car:

http://www.jcr-developments.com/ford

Car-Matt

1,923 posts

83 months

Wednesday 18th April 2018
quotequote all
Calling it out for not being a 3-dr is pathetic....

cookie1600

1,257 posts

106 months

Wednesday 18th April 2018
quotequote all
Jon_S_Rally said:
I couldn't really work out if this review was positive or not to be honest, just pretty hard going to read.
Ah yes, that old chestnut. Maybe they're being paid by the comma and hyphen these days rather than the sentence?

Anyway, it's a shame they went up on the Beachy Head to Birling Gap road on a foggy day. That's a great drive in the sunshine and they could have got some shots with Belle Tout in the background.

culpz

3,956 posts

57 months

Wednesday 18th April 2018
quotequote all
TTmonkey said:
What's so wrong with it being red then? Yes its not a shocking colour, but it will brighten up a really dull car park.

Sick of black, grey and silver and even white cars.
Admittedly, i think it looks good for the same reasons you've mentioned. However, it is work mentioning that it's the same Race Red paint that you got on the MK7 Fiesta Red Edition, ST-Line and Zetec S. It's hardly a bespoke paint job, especially considering the asking price, but it does work with the Focus, IMO.

I do think that orange Heritage Edition looks nice too. Out of all of them, for me, you just can't go wrong with Nitrous Blue. It's such a stunning colour but the Stealth Grey is also a nice, if a more subtle, choice to go for.

It's a shame they didn't offer an Ultimate Green, like on the MK2 RS. Not many seem to like it but i think it's a gorgeous colour.

culpz

3,956 posts

57 months

Wednesday 18th April 2018
quotequote all
woodro said:
How come in all the glowing reviews I head on these RS's , no-one ever mentions their alarming propensity to destroy engines at extremely low mileages ? My brother has been through 3 engines in as many years, all did less than 10k, ( one 3k ! ). A quick search on the web reveals he is not the only one, yet all I ever read is how great they are. And the hassle to get Ford to admit there is a problem and replace them was unbelievable.
Tell me honestly, was that really worth signing up for? wink

cookie1600

1,257 posts

106 months

Wednesday 18th April 2018
quotequote all
culpz said:
Tell me honestly, was that really worth signing up for? wink
Hang on in there, we haven't got to the bit about residuals yet....

kayzee

1,842 posts

126 months

Wednesday 18th April 2018
quotequote all
Car-Matt said:
Calling it out for not being a 3-dr is pathetic....
Eugh, I hate 5 door cars... personally makes the Focus RS a no go for me, although I'm rapidly running out of options! So I think it's definitely worth calling out.

MDT48

388 posts

139 months

Wednesday 18th April 2018
quotequote all
woodro said:
How come in all the glowing reviews I head on these RS's , no-one ever mentions their alarming propensity to destroy engines at extremely low mileages ? My brother has been through 3 engines in as many years, all did less than 10k, ( one 3k ! ). A quick search on the web reveals he is not the only one, yet all I ever read is how great they are. And the hassle to get Ford to admit there is a problem and replace them was unbelievable.
Maybe because the head gasket problem was (allegedly) dealt with on engines post July 2017, so this car shouldn't have any issues worth mentioning.

I'm also confused as to how your brother has been through three engines in three years, given that the very first cars were delivered exactly two years ago.

Did your brother send his car back in time?

Don't get me wrong, it took Ford way too long to figure out the problem with the RS engine, and then way too long to implement a the recall for existing customers.

But the Mk3 Focus RS is hardly the first car to suffer engine problems that needed to be dealt with under warranty - at least the engines didn't catch fire like the early 991 GT3.

If there's one saving grace for Ford, it's that all failed engines have been replaced under warranty, regardless of how modified said engine might be.

TTmonkey

Original Poster:

14,932 posts

192 months

Wednesday 18th April 2018
quotequote all
kayzee said:
Car-Matt said:
Calling it out for not being a 3-dr is pathetic....
Eugh, I hate 5 door cars... personally makes the Focus RS a no go for me, although I'm rapidly running out of options! So I think it's definitely worth calling out.
The three door version of the Mk2 never sold enough across the range to justify the costs by all accounts. You could buy 3 door non St's and RS's, but they were quite rare.




burger81

205 posts

101 months

Wednesday 18th April 2018
quotequote all
Love the red but why keep blue stitching on the steering wheel? This looks odd to me and it should be red to follow the colour scheme and make it unique.

Didn’t the mk2 RS500 have red stitching on the wheel??

gigglebug

1,234 posts

67 months

Wednesday 18th April 2018
quotequote all
woodro said:
How come in all the glowing reviews I head on these RS's , no-one ever mentions their alarming propensity to destroy engines at extremely low mileages ? My brother has been through 3 engines in as many years, all did less than 10k, ( one 3k ! ). A quick search on the web reveals he is not the only one, yet all I ever read is how great they are. And the hassle to get Ford to admit there is a problem and replace them was unbelievable.
How many different names is this now Humandoing?

Woody John

348 posts

18 months

Wednesday 18th April 2018
quotequote all
I didn't realise the yobs I see driving these things had to endure such poverty spec interiors. No accounting for taste i guess.

Gaffer121

3 posts

37 months

Wednesday 18th April 2018
quotequote all
Are there any left,or have thry all been sold

blade7

8,831 posts

161 months

Wednesday 18th April 2018
quotequote all
Jon_S_Rally said:
Usual moaning about it having too many doors too. Funny, the Saph Cosworth has four doors, but no one seems to claim that isn't 'proper'.
Compared to the 3 door Cos the Saph looked very dull.

J4CKO

27,960 posts

145 months

Wednesday 18th April 2018
quotequote all
Woody John said:
I didn't realise the yobs I see driving these things had to endure such poverty spec interiors. No accounting for taste i guess.
You do realise what a colossal ponce that makes you sound ?

CS Garth

2,010 posts

50 months

Wednesday 18th April 2018
quotequote all
Going (asking) for overs at 39k in the classifieds. One for the Ford-aficionados to my mind.

The best thing about the Mk 3 RS is that it has surpressed the Mk2 prices in my view.