Driven: 2017 Ford Focus RS Review
So much hype has been in the pipelines for the Ford Focus RS. We got a chance to get in on the action and take this much anticipated car for week long test. Take a look at our thought on it below.
What’s the Ford Focus RS All About?
The 2017 Focus RS is, without a doubt, one of the hottest cars on the scene right now. The reasons for this are well founded. Ford is well known for their hot hatchbacks that offer great handling, practicality, and perhaps most obviously, their speed. But they always seem to skimp on something and leave us wanting more. A while back, Ford promised their Focus would have four-wheel drive and a hefty power boost, but it simply didn’t happen. Now, their promise is ringing true. The newest incarnate of the Focus delivers all that was made in past promises. And about time, too.
The Ford Focus RS is a ferocious, fire-breathing, feisty hatchback. Four-wheel drive, 350 hp, and 470 Nm of torque make it a boldly built beast that is receiving high praise from reputable car journalists across the globe. It can race from 0-62 mph in just 4.7 seconds. With the Lancer Evolution series at an end and Subaru taking some down time, Ford have unleashed a wolf among sheep that is taking the market by storm.
The test model we managed to get our hands on has a 2.3-litre turbocharged transversely mounted Ecoboost engine gives this model a huge power surge. The engine drives the single gearbox option, a traditional H-pattern 6-speed manual. It sends power directly to all four wheels, using Ford’s own design Ford Performance 4WD system.
When it comes to design, Ford have knocked it out of the park. Historically, Ford have tended to play it safe when it comes to the hot hatch. Former designs have been understated and muted. But the RS has blown any ideas of the meek little ford hatchback out of the water. A gaping grille shows off a gigantic intercooler that had to be intentionally reduced in terms of efficiency because apprently it was making water vapour in the engine. Sharp lines, sleek edges and a sporty spoiler add up to a seriously sweet design package.
Ford is no longer content with sitting in the back row. They mean business, and that formulates itself in the RS. With a surge of excitement surrounding the car’s release, Ford have brought out the big guns and pack a powerful punch with their new model. Competitors need to step up their game, or risked being stomped on by the new kid on the block.
Specifically designed for the enthusiast market, the RS puts the driving experience in a position of utmost importance. Consumers getting behind the wheel of this beautiful beast are most likely, pure petrolheads. Ford has tailored the RS perfectly for this market.
The 2.3-litre Ecoboost puts out 175 g/km of CO2, surprisingly low for such a high-output engine. Of course the turbo helps to achieve this. Weighing in at just under 1,599 kg, this car may be carrying a few extra pounds, but it is a practical 5-door hatchback at heart!
How Does it Drive?
The driving experience we had in the RS was nothing short of dreamlike. Ford is the main name in the game of hot hatchbacks, from their line of Focus and Fiesta models to the iconic Ford GT40 that put Enzo to shame. When it comes to handling, Ford are one of the top dogs on the scene, and this car makes no exception. The effort put into the handling of the RS is clear, and it makes for a marvellous drive.
The RS comes with a drive mode selector to choose how you want your drive to be. The standard Normal mode helps to tame the beast by lightening the steering, muting the engine, and so on. But to really feel the ferocity of the RS, you need to unleash the beast by setting it on Sport mode.
When driving in Sport mode, the RS’s inner rally car makes an appearance. The throttle response is sharper, the steering is heftier, and – perhaps just for a bit of fun – the exhaust spurts out artificial pops and crackles. If you want to hear this car roar, literally, set it in Sport mode. The handling is also massively improved by the proper torque vectoring system.
The new RS is exceptionally responsive to steering inputs. Cornering is easy, thanks to the specially designed 4WD. The front end turns in well, and when taking a tight turn, the rear picks up the slack to make cornering a breeze.
Ford haven’t skimped on the rubber either, opting for Michelin Super Sports tyres. Tucked in behind them are the massive brakes; 4 piston Brembo units are fitted with giant 350 mm ventilated discs for the front, and 302 mm solid discs for the rear.
If you’re actually using Sport mode in the sporty sense, the adaptive dampers are a great shout. They really help to stiffen up the car, making them a great addition for track days. A word of advice, though; they do make the RS a but jittery when on the road. To appreciate them at their best, use them on the track.
What would a sporty hatchback be without drift mode, right? The RS has you covered. Get aggressive on the throttle, and the rest is done for you, making drifting fun and easy.
The engine does a great job of delivering that 470 Nm of torque. All of that power is ready to go at a mere 2,000 rpm, meaning it’s almost constantly on tap. This makes the driving experience even better, because the RS never feels like it’s lagging behind or struggling.
What’s it Like Inside?
Ford have managed to strike a good balance when it comes to the interior. It’s no Rolls-Royce, but it’s no cow pen, either. It is immediately clear that the interior is very driver-focused. The instrument cluster harbours a big tachometer and speedometer for easy viewing. The bucket seats keep a tight grip on you when you’re catching some Gs on a tight corner. And three extra dials on the dashboard open up even more information.
Keeping the suspension set on normal is a must for the RS for everyday driving. Sport mode suspension can be great, but can be uncomfortable even on smooth roads, and almost unbearable over long distances. Best to keep it mild if you’re popping to the shops.
The striking exterior is balanced out well by the simple interior. It has all you need, and doesn’t get too complex or fancy. In a driver-focused vehicle, you certainly wouldn’t want too many gadgets taking up your attention. All you need are the pedals, steering wheel and the gear knob. Nothing much needs to be stated about the interior.
Ford have made up for all their empty promises this time around. The Focus RS is a practical hatchback that can comfortably fit four people and give them a smooth ride, making it perfect for buyers with kids. The technology is decent, and not over-complicated. While it can be a calm and collected drive, you can unleash the beast at the touch of a button, making it a fantastic option for those who want practicality and fun all in one.
At heart, the RS is really a rally car, and it wants to go fast. But it also offers practicality and prestige, making it a great all-round vehicle. The hype surrounding its release was certainly deserved. For me, the Ford Focus RS is undoubtedly a future classic. When we begin to be flooded with efficient EVs and automatic transmission cars, we will miss the thrills a car like this used to supply. This is a beastly behemoth that craves speed, boosts adrenaline, and puts the driver experience the forefront of design; but it doubles up as a practical, easy to drive hatchback too. A great all-rounder for all buyers.
- Price: £36,545
- Engine: 2.3-litre Ecoboost inline-4 turbocharged petrol
- Power: 350 PS
- Torque: 470 Nm
- Transmission: MMT6 6-speed manual gearbox
- 0-62mph: 4.7 Seconds
- Top speed: 165 mph
- Weight: 1,599 kg
- Economy combined: 36.7 mpg
- CO2: 175 g/km
Author: Paul Hadley