Ford Focus rocks with the RS

2016-12-21 06:01
The Focus RS exterior design is both dramatic and functional, with a more powerful and muscular character.     photo: supplied

The Focus RS exterior design is both dramatic and functional, with a more powerful and muscular character. photo: supplied

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IF you like a car that idles quietly, that doesn’t attract attention wherever you go and that just gets you from A to B to C with as little effort and (fun) as possible in the most fuel-efficient way, the Ford Focus RS is not the car for you.

On the other hand . . . If you like a bold, powerful and loud car that turns heads….. this performance vehicle of Ford will tick all those boxes and give you endless days of driving fun, even if it is just from A to B to C and then back to A.

Express on Wheels spend a week on the mom’s taxi route with the Focus RS. This hot ride was also recently named as one of the three finalists in the Cars.co.za consumer awards in the performance car category (between R600 000 and R1 000 000). This is quite an achievement as its competitors are the BMW M2 M-DCT and Mercedes-AMG A45 4Motion.

The Focus RS is one of at least 12 performance vehicles that Ford is planning on bringing out in the next four years.

Production of the all-new Focus RS commenced on 14 January this year at Ford’s Saarlouis manufacturing plant in Germany. South Africa will receive a limited supply of only 300.

According to Ford, the all-new Focus RS pioneers the innovative Ford Performance All Wheel Drive (AWD) system, along with numerous advanced performance technologies to deliver exceptional cornering speed, thrilling performance and unbridled driving enjoyment.

With a specially engineered 257kW version of Ford’s new 2.3-litre EcoBoost engine, the Focus RS is the fastest-ever RS model, sprinting from 0-100 km/h in 4.7 seconds and hitting a top speed of 266 km/h.

Ride

Since this is a high performance vehicle, people who would be interested in it would understand all the high-tech language, so – for their sake – I will relay what Ford says about why this car is a perfomance car.

According to Ford, “the innovative Ford Performance AWD with Dynamic Torque Vectoring delivers a new level of handling capability and driver enjoyment, combining outstanding traction and grip with unmatched agility and cornering speed.

“To deliver optimum driving dynamics, the Ford Performance AWD system was calibrated alongside the car’s advanced Electronic Stability Control, in particular the brake-based Torque Vectoring Control system that works in parallel with the torque-vectoring AWD.

“Other exclusive chassis features include sports suspension with stiffer spring rates and more efficient anti-roll-bars than those found in the Focus ST, and two-mode switchable dampers, which offer a 40% firmer Sport setting for track driving.

“A carefully tuned electric power-assisted steering system, working in combination with an optimized front suspension knuckle design and shorter steering link arms, delivers responsive steering with outstanding feel.

“The vehicle’s exterior design has also been developed to support the driving dynamics. Careful aerodynamic optimisation of the front splitter, rear spoiler and underbody features eliminates lift forces, and the final design delivers a balanced performance with zero lift front and rear for optimum high-speed handling and stability”.

On the mom’s taxi route I never had to worry about “a balanced performance with zero lift front and rear for optimum high speed handling and stability” (except over a speedbump or two, maybe…), but this is how I experienced the drive in my own words:

Number one – it is fun to drive in capital letters. You will never get bored of the roar coming out of those two exhausts.

And the four driving modes (Normal, Sport, Race Track and Drift) tell you enough about what this car is capable of. I kept it on normal.

At first I found the ride to be hard – especially in the first couple of gears, but once you get going, it is more comfortable. It was the same situation with the seats – getting into those beautifully sculpted Recaro seats might be a bit tricky at times – especially if you are not as thin, fit and flexible as when you were 16, but as soon as you have settled into those seats, they are pretty comfortable, with some nice lower back support.

The steering wheel feels nice between the fingers and the 6-speed gearbox offers great pleasure. I found the digits of the speedometer a bit small, something which had to be checked regularly – as with all the power that this car has, one can quickly go much faster than you wanted to or than what the law allows.

Its brake system, which features Brembo front calipers, is also very efficient.

During my week with it, the trip computer showed an average fuel consumption of a thirsty 15.1 litre/100km.

The new 2.3-litre EcoBoost engine for the all-new Focus RS shares its fundamental structure with the all-aluminium four-cylinder engine in the all-new Ford Mustang. The engine has been specifically developed for the high-performance Focus RS to deliver 10% more power with a maximum output of 257kW.

An interesting fact is that the EcoBoost power unit is manufactured at the Valencia Engine Plant in Spain, where every RS engine is subjected to a rigorous “listening test” at the end of the production line to pick up any tell-tale noises that might indicate a possible defect and that machines cannot easily identify.

Exterior

The Focus RS exterior design is both dynamic and functional, with a more powerful and muscular character. Ford says their designers worked closely with Ford Performance to focus on the aerodynamic downforce and balance delivered by the design, as well as the cooling demands of the powertrain and brakes.

The distinctive rear roof spoiler ensures that no-one is left in doubt of this car’s sporty DNA – and if you are in doubt, the RS logo, which appears all over the car inside and outside, will make sure that you know this is a super special vehicle.

Its standard Bi-Xenon HID headlamps feature Adaptive Front Lighting. This adjusts the intensity and angle of the headlamp beams according to the vehicle’s speed, steering angle and distance to objects.

Interior

As befits a high performance car, the interior is also laden with high-spec features, such as steering wheel controls, a touchscreen with rear camera view, park sensors, auto headlights and wipers, to name but a few of the features.

It has lots of dials with data and the trip computer’s info as well as the SYNC®2 infotainment system is at the tip of your fingers with the steering wheel controls.

Three gauges above the centre console, which is angled at the driver, displays turbocharger boost pressure, oil temperature and oil pressure.

The sculpted Recaro seats have bold blue inserts with the blue theme continued in the blue stitching of the leather upholstery.

It also offers decent sized boot space and more than enough stowage cubicles.

The RS offers SYNC®2 connectivity for the audio, climate control and mobile phones via voice control, and via an 8-inch colour touchscreen.

The price:

The Focus 2.3 EcoBoost RS 6MT 5-door costs R699 900.

Optional extras include metallic paint, Recaro Shell Seats and RS Power/Tilt/Slide Sunroof.

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