There was a considerable amount of excitement surrounding the arrival of the Ford Focus RS in our long-term test fleet last fall.
It was understandable that all over the world fight it out for a drive in it. This was, after all, a car that has been praised by all corners, received a maximum five-star road test verdict in this magazine, became the star of many online drifting videos, and it offers a generous 345bhp for only £30,000.
That’s all well and good, but a car in our long-term fleet has to prove himself not only to be skilled in all the road tests jobs, but equally capable in the management of more routine tasks, such as the daily commute or a trip to a DIY store. And, in all honesty, the Focus RS did not initially feel all that amazing at normal speeds. Felt (whisper it) a bit ordinary, in fact.
The best fast cars are famous, as such, because they engage, involve and entertain sedate speeds and levels of engagement notches down from her best Sébastien Ogier print. At the first contact, despite the fact that the Focus does not achieve any of that. The engine felt a bit flat, the overly high driving position never became really well-known and the punishingly stiff the ride was an ever-present reminder of just how much weight was being managed.
That was the story of the city, but once the Focus RS was released from the streets of the city, became much more endearing and likeable car. Provides dynamic qualities of the hot hatch class that simply has not been seen before. This is a key point of sale for the car and, without a doubt, one of our highlights during your time with us.
The tenacity of the attention of the front end is remarkable, and their willingness to give their time, seemingly undeterred by the entry speed, weather conditions, type of road surface. This breeds massive confidence and allows you to put the grip and the speed of the car to full use.
More than that, it is the dynamics of the options that the Focus RS gives that attract both. You can brake deep into a corner, locking the front in a line and the use of the enormous traction of transport. You can go slow and (very) fast on a curve.
When there is a little moisture on the road constantly speeding the rear axle can be felt hardening of the curves of the line in the accelerator. It is not safe or wild, but just a reminder of what intelligent four-wheel-drive system can do. Like the Nissan GT-R, the Focus RS has been shown that the four-wheel drive can be an enhancer for driving fun and not an inhibitor.
This proved to be true in a circuit, also. Image Editor Ben Summerell-Youde took our car on a track day at Snetterton and found him “very progressive and playful”. Without a doubt, made Haldex-based four-wheel-drive rivals look a little one-dimensional by comparison, although it should be noted that the use of a Focus RS on a track day can be very expensive. Another thing it has in common with the GT-R is that the freakish agility and poise of something so heavy you will have your (expensive) toll road in expendables…
On the subject of expenses, Focus RS options must be chosen carefully if you specify a new car or the selection of a sample. Ford has recently replaced its relatively low Sync2 infotainment system with Sync3, which is a marked improvement. Some cars have the earlier system, so it is certainly worth a look for an update of the car. There is also a decision on the choice of body color. The Nitrous Blue of our test car is £ 745 option, but in the rest of the colours – black, grey or white – and without the optional forged alloy wheels (£595), the RS can perhaps look more smooth so that it is actually a 345bhp hatch. Of course, the subtle style will appeal to many buyers. The Recaro optional shell seats (£1145) are also well worth having. If only there was a way to lower mounting.
The Focus RS residual values are showing very strong, something that is becoming a fast Ford, a sign of identity and a great point in favor for the owners. We accumulated an average of miles, our test car has lost a little more value. However, we have seen other examples of similar specifications, and with over 10,000 miles on the clock for sale at more than £ 30,000. A Honda Civic Type R with a five-digit mileage is already hovering around £25k.
Sometimes, the Focus RS could be a tremendously exciting and enjoyable car, capable of things other hot hatches could not achieve and very likeable as a result. The turbo engine became a lot more energetic with the miles beneath him, while the fuel consumption did not improve as much as we would have liked.
What we’re going to take away from our time with the Focus RS is that the enjoyment of it really depends on the situation. While as a rival to the Volkswagen Golf R scores 8/10 (if not more) across the board, the Focus felt like a 11/10 car in some cases, but a 5/10 car in the other.
For some hot hatch enthusiasts, schizophrenic nature is part of its charm and attraction, despite the fact that during the last few months of dealing with the daily driving, there have been highs and lows. The Focus RS is still a very good hot hatch, but I’m not sure that is enough with the fast Ford great.
With the weather takes a turn for the worse, the roads are now covered by a sheet of straw and water, perfect conditions for the Approach to prove itself. I have to say, however, that the bumpy roads round my way say the RS’s super-quick steering, and ferocious, springing up, and the will to turn the corner, on the throttle to make more demand of the driver than I had expected. As such, he is proving himself more Evo Volkswagen Golf R in nature and is in no way dumbed down.
If you’re ready for the challenge, which is great news. Not so long ago, you would have had to endure horrendous fuel consumption, and weekly service intervals for this level of pace. Now you can get in a Approach says much of Ford’s democratization of performance.
A little discomfort
As much as we’d like to spend three months with the Focus RS in the highlands, the fact is that a large part of your driving will be in the city. It is the same for many hot hatches, of course. And, unfortunately, the Approach does not fare very well, with a hard low-speed ride, terrible turning circle and difficult visibility. Hopefully, more fun miles can restore the balance soon.
FORD FOCUS RS
Price £31,000 Price of the test from £35,135 Economy 26.3 mpg Faults None Expenses None Last seen 23.11.16
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