Fleet News

Ford Focus RS

Ford

Review

It seemed implausible that a high performance version of the most popular car on sale would take long to arrive, even when we got the first sight of the concept car.

However, time passed by and some of us wondered if the car would ever see the light of day. But this summer, PlayStation 2 users would have seen the Focus RS feature in Gran Turismo Concept, complete with full technical specifications. The car was not a myth at all, and was just weeks away from going on sale.

For the press launch, Ford took us to its world rally championship headquarters in Cumbria to emphasise the links between the RS and the car that serves as Colin McRae's office.

However, Ford is keen to point out that the Focus RS is not a Focus Cosworth, and there will be no Focus Cosworth, or any four-wheel drive production variant, in the car's current incarnation.

The RS is 'it', and for a fiver under £20,000 on-the-road you get a 212bhp, well-equipped front-wheel drive Focus, which looks surprisingly good value alongside a £21,495 Subaru Impreza WRX.

It seemed obvious that one of Ford's main rivals on the rally track would be the benchmark for the road-going version of the WRC car.

To strengthen the competition-inspired theme Ford has used some of the various suppliers to the WRC team. The sports seats and gearstick are by Sparco, and there are OZ Racing wheels, Brembo brakes, an AP Racing clutch and a custom-built Garrett turbocharger.

The RS comes in just one exterior colour but it has a six-CD autochanger, air conditioning, part-leather trim and nice detailing, like the turbo-boost gauge, the change-up light, and the blue leather trim at the top of the steering wheel which acts as the oversteer indicator. Aggressive styling enhancements to the exterior also help the RS look the part.

And it's fast. Savagely fast. With peak torque occurring at 3,500rpm and a sizeable chunk available either side of that mark, the RS has mind-boggling straight-line speed. I was surprised, however, at the light clutch, the easy steering and the smooth gearchange.

Anyone who has driven the new range of MG saloons and the Impreza WRX would expect something a bit meatier and less passive.

Although there is plenty of grip from the fat tyres, and imperceptible body roll, it doesn't really feel that involving on public roads. The performance is more accessible than virtually any other car on sale, but it seems a little too clinical.

It is without a doubt the fastest Focus to date, but after such a long wait we were expecting something really special. While the Focus thrills on so many levels, it is tinged with disappointment at what might have been.

Model: Ford Focus RS
Engine (cc): 1,988
Power (bhp/rpm): 212/5,500
Torque (lb-ft/rpm): 229/3,500
Max speed (mph): 144
0-60mph (sec): 6.4
Fuel consumption (mpg): 28.0
CO2 emissions (g/km): 237
Service intervals (miles): 12,500
Fuel tank capacity (l/gal): 55/12.1
On sale: Now
Price (OTR): £19,995

CO2 emissions and fuel consumption data correct at time of writing. The latest figures are available in the Fleet News fuel cost calculator and the company car tax calculator.

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