Ford Focus RS 2017 Review – The best hot hatch

Ford Focus RS 2017 Review - The best hot hatch

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The Focus RS is the hot hatch that every petrol head has been waiting for. It is the kind of vehicle you will have dreams about. It is the kind of vehicle where the saying “Drive it like you stole it” was born. The Focus RS is a true example of performance. Let’s find out more about this performance hot hatch.

Styling:

The Focus RS is a 5 door hot hatch. It is bigger than the Ford Fiesta ST that I have driven but not as big as the Ford Fusion. At the front, there is a super wide grille with a blue RS logo, which kind of looks like a mouth waiting to eat you up. The rear is wide with a large diffuser which houses two huge exhausts and a RS branded spoiler. At the side you have prominent side skirts and 19 inch 20 spoke RS alloy rims. It looks like Ford has taken the stock Focus and tuned it up to make it look like it belongs on the track. Available in 5 colours, I was given the Frozen white model which I liked as the vehicle looks good in any environment but I do have my eyes on the Nitrous Blue colour which is the featured colour!

Interior:

Climbing inside, you are reminded that this is not just any vehicle but a Focus RS. You will find the RS Logo on the step sills, on the back of the seats and also on the dash as a gear change indicator. You will find blue detailing on the seats, on the leather steering wheel, on the gear knob, on the inside of the door as well as a few other places. The leather and mesh Recaro racing seats are there to hold you in place but are also super comfy! The dashboard has an analogue rev counter and speedometer with blue elements. There are rubberized pedals to insure optimum grip. There is a Gauge Cluster in the middle of the dash which gives vital information that a racing driver would need because this is a racing car!

You get an 8 inch display with Sync 2 technology for hands free control as well an auxiliary port, SD card slot and bluetooth connectivity. You get auto stop/start, climate control, keyless entry with push start button, daytime running lights, auto folding side mirrors, Rear parking sensors, Ford MyKey and remote central locking all standard.

Since this is a 5 door hatch, there is plenty of space in the vehicle for 5 passengers and fair amount of space in the boot. This is not the sort of vehicle for family adventures but for daily driving, the boot space should be adequate.

Performance:

The Focus RS is one of the most fun cars that I have ever driven and there is one reason for this. The Focus RS is powered by a 2.3 Litre EcoBoost engine which gives a pure grunt of 257kW of power with 440Nm thanks to a bigger induction and a massive turbo. This is the same engine that you will find the Ford Mustang. From 0-100 in 4.7 seconds with a top speed of 300km/h the RS falls in with the likes of the VW Golf GTI.

I cannot even describe how quick the RS is. Gently touching the pedal, the Focus roars through the large exhausts. The RS only comes with a 6 speed manual transmission and I would not have it any other way. Gear changes are quick and very responsive. The clutch is a bit short but once you are used to it, it is no issue at all.

The RS is raw. It is the kind of vehicle where you want to feel the gears shake as you up a gear. It is the kind of vehicle where you want to have complete control over how you drive. In fact, the RS has some features which allows you to do just that, if you are brave enough. You have the option of driving in Normal, Sport, Track or Drift mode with the touch of a button. TRACK mode is designed to allow the driver greater access to the cornering abilities of the Focus RS. Drift mode allows you to experience controlled slides just like Ken Block does in his RS.

I didn’t have the option to test the Focus RS in Track or Drift mode as I didn’t have a safe place to do so but I did use Sport mode and boy am I happy I did. In sport mode the steering, engine and exhaust valve are set to sport. The steering has increased torque feedback for spirited driving. The engine has more direct response with quicker reaction to throttle inputs. Sports calibration opens up the electronic exhaust valve for a different sound. In normal mode, the Focus RS is fast but tries to blend in. Once sports mode is activated the Focus RS shows her true colours. The exhaust gives off pops and crackles and engine response is sharper in sports mode.

With up to 6800rpm available, the RS never feels like it can’t go any faster. It never feels held back. There is always power available.

With electronically assisted steering and brilliant chassis balance, you don’t feel like you are just a driver you feel like you are part of the car.

What separates the RS from other All Wheel Drive vehicles it its Torque Vectoring Control. As you take a corner, the TVC system can send 100% of the rear drive torque to a single wheel by making use of twin rear clutches. This can make one wheel spin faster and make the RS drive quickly around a corner. This can virtually eliminate any potential under-steer when taking a corner too sharply.

With a fuel consumption of 7.7L per 100Km, I did go through a full tank in a week of driving but lets be honest here. You don’t get handed the keys to hot hatch and drive it gently. You are going to drive the Focus RS hard and Ford Performance built the vehicle for this very purpose.

Pricing:

Starting at R699K, the Focus RS is really well priced. You are getting a seriously quick vehicle that will take on many other performance vehicles such as the BMW M2, Golf GTi and Honda Civic Type R and you get to save some cash as well for some extras such as blue calipers, which you are going to “need” or a Power-tilt/slide sunroof!

Verdict:

The Focus RS is designed and engineered for the kind of driver that wants to make every driving experience fun. Inside there are enough features to keep you satisfied but you don’t buy an RS for it’s navigation system or for it’s audio system. You buy an RS for it’s performance, which it has a lot of. The Focus RS focuses on the driver and is surprisingly very easy to drive. The RS has a lot of power for a hot hatch and is really exhilarating to drive. There are only 300 Focus RS’s in South Africa so you better get searching as these vehicles are going fast!

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