The performance hero with the RS badge lives up to the go-fast legacy
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.
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.
Ford’s performance hero is not for the faint-hearted.