Focusing the Chassis
The front suspension uses the usual Mac strut arrangement with revised geometry and beefier links, including new steering knuckles. Engineers wanted to increase the stiffness of the chassis, particularly in the rear, but making things difficult is the fact the RS goes down the same production line as a 1.0-litre Focus, and they can’t slow the line down in order to fit too many extraneous RS bits. Ford managed to beef up the rigidity by 23 per cent over a regular Focus with additional bracing front and rear while also welding a new rear crossmember to the floor and extra reinforcing steel around the shock towers in the boot. Along with additional attachment points on the rear subframe, it’s said to help make the rear of the RS up to 200 per cent stiffer in key areas, which all helps improve steering response.
The RS gets two-stage dampers, (i.e., not continuously variable) while springs rates are one-third stiffer than an ST’s. In their hard mode, the dampers are 40 per cent stiffer, and this setting is intended for use on smooth tracks. The steering gets its own map, and a fixed, high ratio rack with just 2.0 turns lock-to-lock.
Helping stop everything are 350mm ventilated front discs with aluminium Brembo four-pot callipers. The tyres were developed by Michelin, which was apparently challenging given the need for good front-end grip but also accommodating the new Drift mode. This was achieved with a unique sidewall construction and by mixing the rubber compounds through different sections of the tyre. There’s also an optional Sport Cup tyre too. While Ford doesn’t give a ’ring time, they did say the RS is 12-seconds faster on the optional Cup tyres, due to the tyre’s different compound and the lesser tread pattern which gives it a seven per cent larger contact patch.