You know the feeling when you order a new toy for yourself, it shows up at your home, but you are at work? The time seems to slow down, you are constantly looking at the clock waiting for it to hit that certain spot just so you can leave and finally go play with your new toy? Well that is how the story of our Focus RS started. Initially we were expecting to have our Focus months ago, however due to recalls, slow shipping, confused boat captains, krakens, and just about everything else apart from a complete world catastrophe kept our Focus RS from arriving here on time. However when we finally did receive it, I was already on my way to Las Vegas for the SEMA show. Knowing I had a shiny new Focus RS just sitting back at home waiting for me just drove me crazy, and although I had to focus on SEMA, I found it hard to keep focus, let’s just say my focus was obscured… Did someone just say Focus? Okay, jokes aside, it was a blessing in disguise. We had others back at the shop drive it and properly break it in for us, so that when I got back, the car was ready to be driven how it should be, and that is where this review really starts.
Initial Ford Focus RS Impression:
Walking around the Ford Focus RS it was hard to really tell the difference between this and the standard Focus ST, apart from the minor changes, the wing, and the blue Brembo brakes, if you were looking at it into the sun, you could easily confuse the two. Hoping into the Focus RS, you are greeted with a beautiful steering wheel and over bolstered Recaro seats; I tried to lower the seat but quickly realized it was already in the lowest position, which still felt incredibly high. I spent a solid few minutes fiddling with the seat position to find something I thought was comfortable and would put me in an acceptable driving position, but no matter what I did I could never find the sweet spot so I moved on to figuring out what all of the buttons on the shifter surround do. I could not help but think, wow this is just like a Focus ST with more buttons. Normally more buttons are a bad thing when you’re trying to find a car with a pure driving experience, but in the case of the Focus RS, these buttons are incredibly important. More on that later. Once I was comfortable with what all of the functions were, it was time to head off for a drive.
Initial Ford Focus RS Drive:
Leaving the parking lot and going out onto the main road I found myself complaining about how stiff the suspension was, the road noise and how I could not find a comfortable driving position. I kept on thinking “This car costs how much???”. I was trying to remain neutral until I had some miles in this car under my belt, but it’s hard to ignore that feeling of disappointment. I don’t know if I had incredibly high expectations of this Focus RS, or if I thought it would wow me before the engine even warmed up, but I’m starting to think I did. Getting on the freeway on-ramp I was able to open it up a bit, 2nd gear I roll into the throttle and before the needle swings past the 3K RPM mark I thought “Holy shit!…” This Focus RS has some serious torque. You could feel this engine wanted to show you it’s multi-million dollar investment in engineering, and it was a very sweet feeling. Once up to speed the car was actually quite pleasant on the highway, apart from a bit of road and wind noise inside the cabin it was quite comfortable with the high-speed bumps on the freeway… Which I ruined with a push of one button. On the turn signal stalk there is a magical little button that makes your Focus RS go from a nice semi-comfortable ride to a “shaken, no stirred” setting, and instantly you can feel every little bump, every crack and I swore I could feel if the tire ran over a feather, it’s that stiff. I quickly turned that back to normal suspension setting but moved my hand over to Drive Mode and put the Focus RS into “sport,” instantly the car lurched forward like a chained dog seeing a squirrel, the exhaust note opened up and the RS took on a whole new life. I feel like the RS stands for “Really Should” as in you really should leave it in sport mode all the time, as this is how the Ford Focus RS was meant to be driven.
Sitting at the bottom of the canyon I made sure the Focus RS was in sport mode, re-adjusted my seat for the 19th time, adjusted the steering wheel and set off. I took it easy the first few corners trying to get a feel for the car but even at low speeds I was blown away with how quick and darty the car felt, it had a very Point-and-Go type feel to it, like I could just point the steering wheel where I wanted it, and even before I could react, the car was there, it’s lightning quick. I kept thinking, “this Focus RS does not feel large, it feels more like the Fiesta” and that instantly brought a huge smile to my face and gave me the confidence to push the car harder. Normally when you really start to push a car hard, you can at least get it upset in tough bouncy corners, but the Focus RS has this seemingly magical ability in that it’s tires are glued to the road, it did not matter how rough or how fast I was going, the tires never left the pavement. What I though was driving at 8/10th was more like 5/10th in the RS, I found I could constantly go faster and faster through every corner without ever hearing as much as a tire squeal. Between the torque vectoring, the AWD and sticky Michelin Pilot Super Sport tires, I felt like I could never find the limit of this car. The all out grip was astonishing, but that is not what impressed me the most, what was impressive was how the Focus RS felt. The car feels unlike anything I have driven, a perfect mixture of analog feel and electronics to keep you from wadding it up into the mountain wall, it’s a perfect balance of human interface and electronics that make you feel like they are not there, other than feeling the power getting pushed around from wheel to wheel, but that actually made me giggle a few times just thinking about what the Focus RS is processing and how it is doing everything in its power to ensure I get the most grip through this corner. Between the loud pop’s from the exhaust, the razor sharp steering, and the brute force of the engine launching me up the canyon, I don’t know if my smile ever went away. Even though I knew I would not find the limit of this car on this trip, I had more fun driving this Focus RS at 7/10th than just about anything else on the road.
Overall Ford Focus RS Impressions:
I’m going to keep this short. The Ford RS feels like it is built by engineers who love cars, and who remember what it felt like to drive properly good cars. They dumped everything they had into the chassis, suspension, engine and driving dynamics and told the bean counters not to piss off. You can actually feel where the money when in this car, and its brilliant. The Ford Focus RS is next level; this is the new benchmark. Screw comfort, styling, and economy, the Ford Focus RS is the new king of the underdogs, eagerly waiting to pounce on any vehicle well above its weight class.
Don’t want to read? Check out our Focus RS Video Review:
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