The racing and motorsports legacy of the Ford Escort is not well known in North America. For beginners, Escort is the predecessor of the Focus. Although this name is still in use in China, in Europe then name Focus replaced Escort at the beginning of this century.
The Escort won numerous awards in it Cosworth version in the eighties and nineties and this model, to us carries the flag to another era.
We tested the Ford Focus RS with all-wheel drive (AWD). It is the first RS that comes with AWD. Thr most powerful Focus around has a 2.3L Ecoboost engine, which produces 350 horsepower and 350 lb-ft of torque. It is borrowed from Mustang. Although 350 horsepower sounds a little bit high for a “hothatch”, with 1.6 tons, this compact car is quite heavy for its class. At the end of our five-day test drive we recorded an average consumption of 13.8L. This is significantly higher than the Government of Canada measurement, even if this difference is not a surprise.
The Focus RS has three main competitors: The Subaru Impreza WRX STI, Mitsubishi Lancer EVO, and VW Golf R. They all have all wheel drive and turbocharged engines. Finally this is a niche market that attracts young drivers who want to be fast on the road and track.
Even though the interior looks high quality, they still use hard plastic and it is almost identical with the mainstream Focus. RS badges all around the interior, and Recaro sports seats with RS badge still remind you that you are not inside your every day Focus. We find the cushion of the seats really uncomfortable, even for the track. If you are a porker, this is not the best car for you to drive. Overall, the interior is slightly better than the STI, but not as good as the VW Golf R.
In Canada, the Focus RS comes fully loaded and the only option is nitrous blue quad coat for $995. The standard features include, among other things, navigation, Sirius XM, heated steering wheel and seats, and start-stop function.
This is where the Focus RS really shines, compared to its competitors. The body kit looks really muscular with enlarged front air vents, and rear wings. It comes with 19” wheels along with Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 track tires. So, it fully deserves the RS badge.
This car is one of the most “tail happy” AWD cars on the road. It can send up to 70 percent of its torque to the rear, and 100 percent of that torque can be transferred to either side. This is the most advanced AWD technology ever made, and it is surprising to us that Ford uses this advanced AWD technology in a compact car.
There are four different driving modes: Normal, Sport, Track and Drift mode. The comfort level is acceptable in Normal and Sport mode. However, the suspension is very stiff if you choose the Track mode. The suspension is overly dampened and not great for daily driving. We think this is the weakest point of the car. It doesn’t have to be super stiff to be fast. Obviously, there is no body roll, but you have to sacrifice road comfort to achieve this super stiff ride. Also, you will have to deal with snap oversteer if you push it to the limits, since the suspension is so stiff, sometimes it can be dangerous for new drivers.
The MSRP for our test vehicle is just shy of $51.000. You can buy two “regular” Focus for that price. Nevertheless, when we consider the prices in this niche category the Focus still has the upper hand. The price is the same with fully loaded Subaru Impreza STI, while Ford offers the versatility and practicality of a hatchback. We understand that that no one will buy the Focus RS just to go from A to B. It is worth this money considering the performance and the fun factor on the track. And it is good to know that you can leave behind even a super sports car when the red light turns to green at an intersection.
Always obey the traffic rules and respect the speed limits in your daily commuting. Wait your track day for speeding.
If you choose the Focus RS, you probably know, what you are looking for and the chances are; you’ve found it.
Type of vehicle Hatchback 5-door compact car
Power 2.3L, 4-cylinder, inline, turbocharged GTDI gasoline engine, 350 horsepower (6000 rpm), 350 lb-ft torque (3200 rpm),
Transmission Six-speed manual, AWD
Brakes Four-wheel Brembo discs with ABS
Price: base/as tested $47,969 / $50,664
Destination charge $1,600
Natural Resources Canada fuel economy (L/100 km) 12.1 city, 9.3 highway, 10.8 combined
Tires: Michelin 235/35R19
Standard features :Almost everything is standard
Options Nitrous blue quad coat (995)
Article: Varol McKars, Dan Gunay
Pictures: Varol McKars, Burak McKars
Test vehicle was provided by Ford Canada via BHG Media
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