Street Cred, Track Performance
The Ford Focus RS is a scrappy street kid. And much like growing up on a tough block in a rough neighborhood, the RS rightfully earned some peer cred in Europe before refining its debut for the North American market. “It’s about time we finally get it! Ford’s been toying with us for years. We’re glad it’s finally here to compete with other rides in its category. The performance figures are there; it’s a helluva car!” said Ben Chase, a Keystone sales associate based on the West Coast.
Ford fan or not—rather, Ford Focus RS fan or not—the numbers don’t lie. Ranked in the five-star club by syndicated magazine Car and Driver, the RS is like a gazelle; it achieves highest marks on the track, handing in a scorecard of 0-60 in 4.6 seconds and a sensational 13.4 second quarter mile.
“The new RS already dominated a comparison test held in Europe against the Subaru WRX STI and the Volkswagen Golf R and tackled the 24 turns of Virginia International Raceway in our annual Lightning Lap (where it turned a lap quicker than a V-8 Mustang achieved in 2015).” On such ultra-sticky rubber, “it follows every last pavement crack, bump, and tar strip while the firm suspension keeps body roll in check. In the sterile lab of a well-groomed racetrack, this translates to a connection between car and driver that we dream of,” said Car and Driver.
Crank it Up
Known to have some shaky handling as an everyday driver, all one has to do is “crank up the velocity to criminal levels, and the RS actually settles down a bit. The ride evens out and the steering stops favoring the road’s topographical features and starts to better hew to the driver’s desires. But it’s a lot to ask of a driver—say, his or her license—when a good car is at its best only when doubling the speed limit,” continued Car and Driver.
Not Your Granny’s Focus
Ultimately, a body this lightweight with such arresting horsepower and punchy torque is meant to be driven hard and fast. The Ford Focus RS is a ride that pushes limits. Not one to recede into the background. While it may not always finish first, it’s guaranteed to be right on the competition’s tail. And that desire to compete, a willpower to be recognized, is quite possibly its most captivating quality. Because you see, super cool looks and drift mode aside, the RS represents an impression larger than its small sporty frame. In a segment dominated by import performance and European tuner models, the Ford Focus RS legitimizes America’s stance as a worthy contender among the long-time greats.
“I can’t leave my house without seeing a Ford Focus ST or RS. They’re all over Toronto, Canada. The Ford Focus RS is bringing an entirely new level of excitement to the game. And it’s re-sparked the interest of more serious, mature enthusiasts. Maybe the guys that at one time were big into the Honda Civic scene (possibly during the Fast and Furious frenzy of the early 2000’s),” said Jon Ruzzi, National Accounts Manager at Keystone Canada.
With a $50,000 price tag in Canada, it’s not unattainable but certainly a stepping-stone option. “A bunch of surveys on the Focus forums list the dominant age group as 35-45 (which confirms the assessment of an older, more established tuner crowd). Ford Focus RS owners want to put some money into it, take it to the track, and run it hard. It’s not a budget-minded, ‘econo’ option for them. These consumers made a conscious choice to purchase this vehicle because it represents the kind of performance they want,” continued Ruzzi. So naturally, these enthusiasts are willing to throw extra money at the aftermarket upgrades like tuners, intakes, engine mounts to control rock, lowering kits, etc.
Raising the Bar
Even more important, the RS is forcing cream to rise to the top. Since the EVO’s untimely departure, the Subaru has been running a muck in a category of its own. Competition raises the bar across the board and if nothing else, the RS is positioned to wreak enough havoc to elevate the entire category to the next notch on the belt. And according to Car and Driver, the RS is well on its way.
“Dynamically, the RS is in a different league than the others, maybe even playing a different sport. It’s far more exciting than the staid Golf and much more polished than the brutish STI. And this isn’t just because of that trick rear axle; it’s evident in practically every detail, from the crisp communication of the steering to the predictable weight of the gearshift to the resistance of the brake pedal,” added Car and Driver.
It’s the flagship of domestic sport compact performance. We can’t wait to see what the Ford Focus RS and subsequent American-based models have in store for the segment at large.