The Ford Focus RS is a fun runner that turns heads everywhere, writes Paul Gover Compact speed machine thrills with its theatrics
BELTER. It’s the word that sits best against the Ford Focus RS. The last time the carsGuide test team was this surprised and impressed by a turbocharged pocket rocket was when the Subaru STi first hit the road in Australia.
The go-fast Focus has everything we like in a compact speed machine, even without the all-wheel drive grip and security net that comes with Subaru’s WRX family and the Mitsubishi Lancer Evo.
It is a massive step up from the XR5 turbo, which was the hero car in the Focus family until the RS arrived.
The RS is a car that makes every trip a fun run, although you must adjust to turning heads everywhere you drive it.
Its turbocharged five-cylinder engine turns the front wheel and does it with plenty of theatrics, from the whoost and chatter of the turbo and wastegate to the way its front wheels scratch for grip under full throttle.
The worst thing about the RS is that only 315 cars have come to Australia and almost every one is already with its new owner.
There is talk of another RS when Ford does a complete model change on the Focus, as well as a Fiesta RS to tap the 2011 challenger in the World Rally Championship, and we cannot wait.
THE price of the Focus RS is just about irrelevant, because all 315 cars were pretty much pre-sold. A couple could still be lurking in Ford dealerships, but almost every one went straight to owners.
That’s proof that the price was right, even if $59,990 seems a lot for a front-drive car against a WRX from $39,990 and a Renault Megane RS at $41,990.
THE heart of the RS is the upgraded fivecylinder Duratec engine that is also used by Volvo and in the Focus XR5.
The difference is big, though, and not just the boost to 224kW. Major hardware changes have been made inside the engine and the turbo has also been given a tweak.
The key to putting so much power on the road is the Quaife-brand torque sensing differential, as well as RevoKnuckle front suspension and 19-inch tyres and rims.
The RS also gets bigger brakes, tweaked stability control and convenience features including rear parking radar and excellent Xenon headlamps.
THE RS is still a Focus, but the body bits make a massive difference to the way it looks.
For our money it easily trumps the STi from Subaru and makes the Evo look a bit plain.
It has a giant front spoiler and a substantial rear wing.
And the WRC-inspired body changes include spoked alloys, a fake venturi under the rear bumper and meaty exhaust tips.
Inside, the giveaway to the sports focus is the Recaro bucket seats and the steering wheel.
The look is not for everyone — and the Kermit-green hero colour works best for people who like to wear their baseball cap backwards — but it makes the RS unique and desirable.