Fo­cus blurred

The per­for­mance hero with the RS badge lives up to the go-fast legacy

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Used Car - GRA­HAM SMITH gra­ham.smith@cars­guide.com.au

NEW

FORD has al­ways used per­for­mance as a sell­ing tool. Over the years the RS badge has been a ma­jor part of the com­pany’s go-fast im­age, only the RS500 has topped it.

So it was com­fort­ing to see the maker launch in 2010 the Fo­cus RS, a gen­uine no-holds-barred per­for­mance ver­sion of the Fo­cus. It wasn’t cheap, but it could jus­tify its lofty $59,990 price by its gen­uine claim of com­pet­ing with the likes of Volk­swa­gen’s Golf R and SubaruWRXSTi, the bench­marks in the go-fast class.

Ford said the RS was all about overt per­for­mance— and it wasn’t kid­ding.

One look at it, with its vi­brant colours, pumped guards filled with mas­sive 19-inch al­loy wheels, plung­ing front spoiler and twin-plane rear wing was enough to say it meant busi­ness.

When pressed to the limit it would ac­cel­er­ate to 100 km/h in some 6.0 sec­onds and rush on to a max­i­mum speed of more than 200km/h. Lift the bon­net and you found a tur­bocharged five­cylin­der en­gine that pumped out 224 kW, that’s 300 horse­power in proper RS terms, and 440Nmof stump-ex­tract­ing torque. A six-speed man­ual backed the en­gine— no au­tos here folks— and it fed a spe­cial Quaife lim­ited-slip dif­fer­en­tial at the front. The sus­pen­sion was tweaked to elim­i­nate torque-steer, some­thing that can ruin high­pow­ered FWD cars, and it worked a treat.

Huge al­loy wheels and spe­cially devel­oped low-pro­file tyres, sharper steer­ing and big brakes helped the RS per­form. In­side, it was suit­ably sporty with sports seats, a chunky steer­ing wheel, short-throw shifter, al­loy ped­als and ex­tra di­als.

There was also a com­pre­hen­sive ar­ray of safety sys­tems, from ABS to ESP sta­bil­ity con­trol and a full com­ple­ment of airbags.

NOW

With only 315 RS models im­ported there aren’t a lot about. Still it’s im­por­tant to do your home­work be­fore plung­ing in. Cars like the RS are usu­ally bought by peo­ple keen on per­for­mance, us­ing it to its full ex­tent, some­times on the track.

It can be hard to re­sist a race when you drive a hot look­ing and per­form­ing car like the RS, and many own­ers are will­ing to put them to the test. With that in mind it’s im­por­tant to thor­oughly check any car un­der con­sid­er­a­tion be­fore hand­ing over any cash.

Look for any sign of hard use, from bumps and scrapes on the body­work and wheels, wear on tyres and brakes, clutch wear, and cer­tainly any mod­i­fi­ca­tions that might have been made.

Mod­i­fi­ca­tions can present is­sues down the track be­cause en­gines, clutches, gear­boxes, brakes and sus­pen­sions are put un­der ex­tra pres­sure they’re not de­signed for. It’s best to walk away from a car that’s been mod­i­fied rather than take the risk.

Ser­vic­ing is crit­i­cal with any car, more so with a per­for­mance car, es­pe­cially one like the RS with a turbo en­gine. Check the ser­vice record of your po­ten­tial pur­chase and if it’s been done by any­one but a Ford dealer check their bona fides.

SMITHY SAYS

Ford’s per­for­mance hero is not for the faint-hearted.

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