The best hot hatch soon to be on the market?
The last time Ford launched one of these it wasn’t sold in the US and hot hatch enthusiasts weren’t happy. At all. Not only did the US miss out on a better Ford Focus in comparison to the one sold in Europe, but we also didn’t receive a proper high-performance version. Fortunately that all changed with the latest generation Focus, which is now a global model. Aside from the base model, it was the Focus ST that’s received a colossal amount of attention, and rightly so.
Thing is, we always figured Ford could do better, and it’s finally happening with the 2016 Focus RS. Debuting at Geneva last March, the Focus RS is the all-wheel-drive hot hatch that’s about to become the biggest threat to the Volkswagen Golf R.
Developed by Ford Performance, the Focus RS is powered by the same 2.3-liter turbocharged four-banger found in the EcoBoost Mustang. Output is expected to be at least 345 hp and 324 lb-ft of torque. Power is sent to all four wheels via a six-speed manual gearbox and its Dynamic Torque Vectoring System distributes torque between the front and rear axles to maximize grip. Ford claims that understeer has been virtually eliminated. Other features include an improved and upgraded suspension with stiffer springs, sway bars and adjustable dampers. The driver can select from four drive modes (Normal, Sport, Track, or Drift Mode) in order to configure the car for optimal performance based on driving capabilities and road and/or track conditions.
What’s cool is that each mode can be selected using a specific switch alongside the gear lever, and even has specific settings for the AWD system, damper controls, Electronic Stability Control system, steering and engine response, and exhaust sound. Impressive. Enthusiasts in particular will get a kick out of Drift Mode, which features a uniquely developed calibration for the AWD system that’ll modify torque distribution to help the driver achieve controlled oversteer drifts. And then there’s Launch Control, a feature also found on some of the world’s best supercars. Impressive that Ford included it in a hot hatch. So now you might be asking yourself about the Focus RS’s performance specs?
In a nutshell: mental. Try 0-62 mph in only 4.7 seconds and a top speed (electronically limited) of 165 mph. Base price? $35,730. Fully loaded? $42,275. Folks, this is one of the best deals in years in terms of performance bang for your buck. Thing is, some Ford dealerships are already jacking up the price by around $15k. Compared to the Focus ST, the Focus RS is definitely a stand out, thanks to its new front end featuring a deep splitter and the largest possible apertures for engine cooling. We particularly like that wide, more muscular stance that’s emphasized by the lower wings and large outboard openings on each side, which feed the brake cooling ducts.
The interior will be familiar to anyone who’s ever been in the current Focus, but this time there’s a flat-bottom steering wheel, alloy foot pedals and unique instrument graphics within the main cluster. Without question, the 2016 Ford Focus RS is a special car, and it very much has the potential to be the best all-around hot hatch on the market.