The new Ford Focus RS is nearly upon us, so what better time to look at all of its most important bits, like top speed, horsepower, price and that all-important 0-62mph?
If you call yourself any kind of petrolhead, chances are you’re looking forward to the new Ford Focus RS. On paper, it has all the potential to come out as the king of hot hatches, which in this day and age is no easy task. The VW Golf R, Honda Civic Type R, Peugeot 308 GTi, Seat Leon Cupra 280 and other rivals are all wonderfully capable.
But the pressure is on because Ford has the benefit of hindsight and this new version has been a long time coming. Is the increased horsepower, addition of all-wheel-drive and aesthetic revisions enough to put the smack down on the competition? We’re damn excited to find out. Here’s what you need to know.
What’s under the bonnet?
Ford is sticking its EcoBoost engine into just about everything these days, including the Focus RS. Here we get the 2.3-litre four-cylinder used in the Mustang, but tuned up by 10 per cent to 350PS (345hp). The power hike is down to a new ‘low-inertia twin-scroll turbocharger’, bigger intercooler, less restrictive intake design and a large-bore exhaust system.
So it’s bloody quick?
Yeah, bloody quick is a fair description. 0-62mph takes 4.7 seconds, which is hardly surprising when the engine generates 440Nm of torque – available between 2,000 and 4,500rpm, with 470Nm available as part of an overboost for 15 seconds during hard acceleration. To give an idea of how fast that is, the Civic Type R takes a second longer to reach 62mph from standing. Let’s not forget only a six-speed manual option is available so there’s no fancy transmission here to improve the numbers, like with the Golf R. Meanwhile 31-62mph in fourth gear takes five seconds, 0.4 seconds faster than its predecessor.
Will it drink fuel, though?
If you drive like you’re playing Grand Theft Auto, probably. Sadly, Ford is yet to announce just how well it will perform when it comes to fuel economy, but it claims Auto-Stop-Start, advanced turbocharging and the direct fuel injection system will make it more wallet-friendly. CO2 emissions, meanwhile, are 175g/km – an improvement of 22 per cent. On the flip side, it weighs quite a lot – 1,547kg, in fact, making it 52kg heavier than the Golf R.
What about all-wheel drive?
Unlike its predecessors, the new Focus RS relies on all-wheel-drive – there’s just too much power to send to just the front wheels. Specifically, it uses a Ford Performance AWD system that works by controlling the torque distribution from the front to rear and side-to-side, known as torque vectoring. It does this by using twin electronically-controlled clutch packs on each side of the rear drive unit (RDU). Clever sensors monitor the situation 100 times a second, allowing it to send up to 70 per cent of torque to the rear wheels, up to 100 per cent of which can be sent to left or right rear. No wonder, then, cornering force is said to exceed 1g.
So can it go sideways?
All-wheel drive cars are usually harder to drift, but no means impossible. Except here that’s a non-issue because the new Focus RS has a Drift Mode, a feature that ‘modifies the torque distribution to help the driver achieve controlled oversteer drifts under circuit conditions’. In other words, it should cater for your inner-hooligan if you feel like tearing up a Tesco car park (not recommended).
How does it compare to the Civic Type R
With a top speed of 165mph, only the Honda Civic Type R is officially faster in the hot-hatch market (the Mercedes-AMG A45 is electronically limited to 155mph as standard). That makes the family-friendly Focus RS just shy of the Ferrari Testarossa’s 180mph. Progress, eh?
What about stopping power?
Did you really think Ford was going to skimp on bringing you to a halt? Ford says the brake system used for the new Focus RS is the most powerful ever used for an RS. At the front are 350mm ventilated front discs and Brembo four-piston monoblock calipers, which can be painted in RS blue for an extra £100. Yet somehow the bigger discs save 4.3kg per wheel compared with the old RS and its 336mm front discs. Brake fade should be kept at bay thanks to various cooling channels designed to push air past the anchors.
I bet the ride is harsher than a harsh thing
The sports suspension comes with 33 per cent stiffer spring rates at the front and 38 per cent at the rear, while two-mode switchable dampers offer a 40 per cent firmer ride with the Sport mode selected. Ford has also increased torsional stiffness by 23 per cent over the standard Focus. A softy, this car most certainly is not.
What about the tyres?
Michelin and Ford worked together on the rubber you get on the new Focus RS. The result is said to be a standard Pilot Super Sport tyre ‘for every-day use’.
There’s plenty of standard equipment, right?
Yes. Besides 19-inch RS alloy wheels in low-gloss black, the new Focus RS comes with Bi-Xenon headlights with Adaptive Front Lighting (a system that adjusts the beam according to vehicle speed), Recaro sports seats and Ford’s Sync2 infotainment system. Buyers can choose one of five paintjobs (Nitrous Blue, Stealth Grey, Shadow Black, Magnetic Grey and Frozen White) and spec Active Stop, which stops the car automatically up to speeds of 31mph if an imminent collision is detected.
Can I buy one?
You can, indeed. Prices start from £29,995 and production has already begun, but you should probably be quick because more than 3,100 orders have been made already and Ford claims there have been 250,000 configurations done by customers on Ford’s websites.
Is it any good?
The first reviews trickling out suggest it’s a beast, but we will reserve judgement until we get our paws on one for longer than a day or so. Will the 2016 Focus RS be crowned the best performance hot-hatch? Stay tuned.