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Ford Focus RS First impressions are that Ford's techies have

pubblicato 26 ott 2009, 09:31 da Focus Club RS   [ aggiornato in data 1 gen 2014, 10:50 ]

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Wossit like, then?’ Um, er… ‘That your RS, mate?’ Er, yeah, but… ‘Nice, is it, the RS?’ Well, I haven’t actually… Not one but three separate conversations in the space of five minutes, and this was just the first time I stopped for petrol. Since at that point I’d driven the fastest Ford all of 20 miles, my replies probably weren’t terribly enlightening. Never, and I do mean never, have I been approached by so many people to talk about a car, and what everyone wants to know is whether it’s as mad and as fast and as fantastic as it looks. So the first thing you should know: do not buy a Focus Rallye Sport unless you enjoy lots of attention. If you prefer to slip by unobserved (and I have a nagging suspicion that I might fall into this category) buy something less conspicuous. Like a bright pink Rolls-Royce Phantom. With breasts. 

And I thought I’d got off lightly when our RS turned up in Performance Blue, by far the most discreet of the three paint finishes, the others being Frozen White and the nuclear-powered Ultimate Green. Fact is, whatever the hue, the Focus RS makes even ordinary, non-petrolheaded people stop and stare. I reckon it’s the sheer bloody size of the thing. That and the wider track, distended arches and skirts, Desperate Dan jawline, multiple scoops and vents, and to top it all off, an aerofoil spoiler atop the hatch that you could go wing-walking on. All of which could have made it look under-tyred, except that they’ve fitted it out with 19in alloys and 235/35 Pirellis that are so low-profile they look like they’ve been snapped onto the rims like rubber bands. 

These are standard on the RS, as are xenons, air con, a very decent eight-speaker hi-fi, rear privacy glass, a capless refuelling system (you open the flap and there’s no separate fuel filler cap to unscrew), heated screen and heated washer jets, airbags everywhere, and the fabulous Recaro seats. This particular car has the Luxury Pack 2, which adds dual-zone climate control, keyless entry, rear parking sensors, tyre deflation detection, rain-sensing wipers, auto headlights, touchscreen satnav and an iPod connection. Unfortunately it also adds £1500 to the £25,740 list price, and when you add a further £425 for metallic paint (only white doesn’t incur an extra cost) the grand total is a not inconsiderable £27,665. This is a seriously expensive Focus. 

But then it’s a very serious bit of kit. I can remember conversations 15 years ago on Performance Car when we speculated about the most power you could ever put through the front wheels without a car becoming effectively undrivable. The consensus was probably about 200 brake. If you’d driven the last Focus RS, with 212bhp, you might well have concluded that we were right. But here is the new Focus RS with 300bhp. Would I even make it home? 

Impressions from the launch drive in the south of France (evo 129) suggested Ford’s engineers have worked a small miracle. The combination of ‘RevoKnuckle’ front suspension, a Quaife torque-biasing helical limited-slip diff, and the obligatory electronic stability system, meant the Focus not only managed all that power but put it to very good and entertaining use. It was, reported Mr Catchpole, a cracker. 

But we can’t make a definitive judgement till we’ve spent considerably longer with a car, preferably on Britain’s uniquely varied and testing road network. Which is why we’re so chuffed that, along with a couple of other mags, Ford has lent us an RS to evaluate for four months. During that time we’ll find out how practical it is. And of course let you know if anything goes wrong. (Speaking of which, all is not completely tickety boo with our RS: there’s a flat spot in the delivery on part-throttle, the obvious short-term answer to which is to floor the throttle and drive right through it. So that’s what I’ve been doing, and it’s a bloody riot.) But most of all, at the end of those four months when someone asks ‘So, wossit like then?’ we’ll definitely know the answer.