Sunday, September 03, 2006

Ford Focus RS

Hot-hatchbacks don't get much hotter than this. Ford's 212bhp Focus may have been a long time in gestation, but marks the welcome return of the RS (Rallye Sport) brand, a moniker which first appeared in 1970 on an Escort.

There have been a succession of RS Fords since then, most of which came with a reputation that the RS will have to try hard to live up to.
Just as well, then that the Focus RS comes well-equipped for the job of Meeting Expectations.

Along with that turbocharged, 2.0-litre engine, the Focus RS boasts Brembo brakes, a Quaife limited-slip differential, an AP-Racing clutch, an up-rated gearbox, unique 18" OZ alloy wheels, the same track as the World Rally Championship Focus, and a Sparco interior.

Only sixty or so engineers have been working on the Focus RS, and it's claimed to have been created for enthusiasts, by enthusiasts. That could be perceived as bull, but it doesn't come across that way.

The Focus has got what it takes to be a stupendous hot-hatchback. And it's definitely worthy of the RS tag.

Although it's a specialist car, there shouldn't be too many worries about the quality of the RS Focus. Some 30 a day are going to be made, and they roll down the same production line as the standard Focus. In fact, the main reason that the Focus RS took so long to reach the market was because productionising the car took longer than expected.

Focus RSs can be bought and serviced at any Ford dealer, and the warranty is the same as for any other model in the Focus range. That said, Ford has used aftermarket suppliers such as Quaife (limited-slip differential) and AP Racing (clutch) and has modified the five-speed gearbox for the Focus RS, and these components haven't yet been customer-proven like in the standard car (though they have all been chosen because they can handle the power).

The carbon insert on the dash, unique seats, steering wheel and trim all appear of pretty sound construction. But though our test cars were pre-production models, one suffered from some minor squeaky trim. Given the stiff suspension, this maybe isn't so surprising.

Editor's note: I recently sat in one as a passenger in a circuit and boy it was very responsive and fast, taking corners at 70mph and straights at 110mph ( short circuit, if its a longer straight we could have gone up to 140mphish i was told ).

No comments: