The Ford Focus RS: The Blue Oval’s best is a performance car for the people – Ars Technica

Posted: Friday, September 02, 2016

Don’t let the familiar name fool you—the new Ford Focus RS is no mere shopping hatchback. Behind that gaping front grill is a turbocharged 2.3L engine with 350hp (261kW) and 350lb-ft (475Nm) torque vectored to the road via all four wheels. The wheel arches are blistered. There’s a great big wing at the back; there’s a diffuser, too. And if that doesn’t already sound like a very special Focus, the new RS even has a “Drift” mode.

Despite all the fancy carbon fiber supercars Cars Technica spends time with, I’d been looking forward to getting behind the wheel of this vehicle more than just about any other. From auto shows to race weekends to other Ford track events, the car has taunted me, sitting static but resplendent in that eye-catching Nitrous Blue paint. Our first drive was originally slated for July, but scheduling conflicts at the Blue Oval saw that opportunity bumped into late August. That delay is now a minor blip; the RS was more than worth the wait.

Are there many more evocative letters one could stick on a car to let the cognoscenti know something special was going on? Spy “RS” on a Renault, Porsche, Audi, or Ford, and you know the vehicle you’re looking at has been breathed upon by that company’s raciest engineers. The fat will have been removed, the suspension made track-ready. Tires will be wider, stickier, and have more power to put down. (Only Chevrolet lets the side down by glueing those letters to a quite pedestrian Camaro.)

At Ford RS stands for Rallye Sport, and it’s a name that goes back a long way. Back in the day, one of the best ways for a car company to imbue an everyday shopping car with some pizzazz was to take it racing. But motorsports demands more than the school run; wider tires, aerodynamic appendages, altered suspension pickup points, and so on. This was permissible with the proviso that a certain number of road cars sold to the general public were so equipped, creating the homologation special. And Ford’s homologation cars were quite special.

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