When you think of classic Fords, the Escort, the Capri, the Sierra, the iconic designs that instantly spring to mind are the ones that have been proud to wear the RS (Rallye Sport) badge. RS has allowed Rally fans throughout the years to buy a car equivalent to the ones they have watched their sporting heroes drive.
It felt special when Ford invited me to the launch of their new All-Wheel Drive Ford Focus RS (MK3). I had heard the car was exceptional and driving from the country house of Aynhoe Park to Silverstone; I soon discovered it was. The Ford Focus RS was beautifully composed on the road. Taking it out on the Stowe circuit, I then discovered a compelling track car, with a stiff chassis and all the tools you required for the role in hand.
The team at Ford Performance have worked hard to get the iconic performance car elements right. The exhaust on the new RS was totally redesigned several times to get the acoustics right and still meet global requirements. The large bore system is as straight through as possible to remove back pressure and Ford Performance even had a strategy to ensure (in Sport, Track and Drift modes) the exhaust pops, baubles and bangs like a rally car when driven hard.
The Ford Focus RS project team planned from day one to minimise drag, maximise cooling of both the engine, the Brembo brakes and make the car handle as well as possible. The 350PS Ecoboost 2.3 litre engine in the RS has come from the new Mustang and been specifically tuned for 0-62 in 4.7 seconds and a top speed of 165mph.
Good grip is essential for an iconic car and the new Focus RS is equipped with a clever Torque Vectoring system which during cornering transmits increased torque to the outer drive wheel which helps to improve agility, stability and avoid understeer. The Michelin Pilot Super Sport tyres (235 / 35 R19) work in beautiful harmony with the new technology.
The Focus RS is a very professional piece of kit that makes an average driver look exceptional. It has set a new bar for the five door performance hatchback. The hugely functional aerodynamic styling blends into the package, making a sophisticated looking car that I know will become a future classic.
The Ford Focus RS costs £31,000 which is a fantastic price for such a highly engineered and well-built performance car. With fast Fords in high demand on the classic market it has a made the case to buy a new one even more compelling.
Ford have a global winner with the Focus RS (3000 pre-orders before the first car left the plant) and I feel they can sit back for the rest of the year and watch the awards roll in.
The passion for heritage, designing iconic cars and the legacy they leave is all pervading at Ford; we can expect many more stunning performance cars in the next few years.