Car Reviews

2016 Ford Focus RS Review

Ford Focus RS (2016) Test Drive - Carzone

Carzone test drives the all-new 2016 Ford Focus RS. The 5-door, 345bhp, 2.3 litres all-wheel drive with dynamic torque vectoring has an outstanding 4 driving modes including our favorite 'Drift Mode'.........




Video Transcription

If you like your Fords fast, then twenty sixteen is quickly becoming a vintage year.  With v8 mustang selling like hot cakes across Europe, a new beautiful GT car fighting for honours and an all new version of a very iconic hot hatch ‘The 345 brake horsepower four-wheel drive focus RS’.

Though the looks have been toned down a little bit since the last time the focus wore an RS badge back in 2009.  The mark two well that looked like a homologation rally special, straight from the stage but this car because it's now a global design it comes only in a five-door layout and that means no blistered arches or wide body design.

Having said that it does still look pretty mean with this big rear spoiler at the back apparently inspired by the Ferrari f40, and a diffuser that gives real downforce and a pair of cut twin exhausts too.  Think of this them as a nice halfway house between the queue car subtlety of the Golf R and the bonkers bands eye aesthetic of a civic type r and all finished in this lovely nitrous blue.

 In here though things are a little bit more toned down unless you go for the optional bucket seats with holes for six point harnesses and it feels pretty similar to the ST inside.  There's a flat bottom steering wheel, a unique set of dials and some nice blue stitching and RS badges but that's about it and you have to pay extra for luxuries like cruise control, the sat-nav or even rear parking sensors. Having said that the standard price is £29995 so I'm not complaining. Has the RS lost its bite though? well I think it's probably time we go and find out.

Now you probably all know the vital statistics for this car off by heart but it bears repeating this is a Ford Focus that cost less than 30,000 pound but it will also do 0 to 62 in 4.7 seconds and go on to get hundred and sixty-five miles an hour, but just exactly what does that feel like on the road.

 Well I can tell you from the driver's seat that it certainly feels like a serious piece of kit. 

The ride feels really well judged, it's a lot stiffer than the ST and just the right side of comfortable.  The steering though is lighter than I expected, it's actually really darty and it works well with the front end it just seems like it's falling into corners and it works beautifully with the four-wheel-drive system which is a first for the focus RS.

The focus RS is of old have always been technical to the forces and this version is no exception.  It uses a new four-wheel-drive system which is extremely lightweight but uses a pair of clutch packs to shift power from the front to the rear axle and between those rear wheels to give you loads of drive out corners.

It works really really well to. The limits of traction are very very difficult to approach even on roads like this unless you chuck it in, again you're going to get nowhere near the limit of grip of these tires and it also means that you can use all of the power from the new 2.3 litre engine.

 It's a turbocharged four-cylinder which means you missed some of the rally bread five cylinder wall ball from the previous version but having said that there's absolutely nothing wrong with the power delivery. 

Peak torque comes in at just over 2,000 rpm and then as soon as you get it wound up here this roar straight through exhaust system building the cabin with noise t's really really fast this thing but not that intimidating surprisingly easy to drive quickly and there's four different driving modes cycle through as well.

Here on the road we've been trying out normal and sport but there are two modes to explore later tomorrow we're on track too.  One is the obligatory track mode which stiffens everything up by about forty percent in fact when it comes to the dampers but drift is the final mode and that is the Ford Focus’s party piece and we're looking forward to trying that out tomorrow.

So these cars are a little bit different from the ones we've been driving on the road.  They've got the optional bucket seats as you can see, we've also got the optional stickier cup two tyres on and the optional 19-inch forged alloys, which look great too.  

Here at the Circuit De València we now should be able to try out those two other driving modes and find out just what the RS is capable off.  Here on the track that you can really appreciate the stiffness in the body on the chassis.  The amazing steering on this new RS has got and I was talking to one of the engineers last night and he said the great thing about this car is it doesn’t feel like turbocharged engine.

Which means as soon as you're out of the corner and just gently push on the power it pulls and pulls and pulls all the way up to the 6800RPM red line. You're supposed to shift a little bit before that 5800 RPM but with the cracks and pops going you tend to just want to Rev all the way out.  You can feel the car moving around all the time the rear is always trying to help you out. That trick four-wheel drive system just shuffling the power around. Another interesting thing I found out is that reason this car handles so well is that the four-wheel-drive system actually uses an over speed function. That means the rear wheels are going faster than the front wheels which gives it this incredible agility, it also unfortunately creates a lot of durability issues, but we've been assured that they have ironed those out. 

If you're driving a lot on circuit, then the car actually has a sensor, a clock and it will tell you when you need to replace the oil in the clutch pack on the rear axle so you don't end up wearing out by having too much fun.  

The other thing you can really appreciate once you're out here on the circuit is the brakes.  These Brembo brakes are the biggest ever fitted into a focus RS.  I mean on the road yesterday they were impressive but here on the track the stopping power and the staying power really really impressive The pedals are easy to modulate but they've really haul you down and the sound really comes into its own too.

 I might have said yesterday that the exhaust kind of just stays a little bit constant just get steadily louder and apart from the crackles and pops not really that much fireworks going on apparently they could have engineered in a sound or a sudden rush of power right the top of the rev range but they said they would have made the car slower and what was the point in making a four-wheel-drive RS as slow as the old one to drive.  I think that's fair enough really.

 We're just going to try out drift mode now and see what that's like.  Right let’s give this a go. This is my first time in drift mode which sends a bit more power to the rear axle and also kind of puts of everything else back in normal mode.  So it's a bit softer on the dampers, just gives you more time to respond to stuff as it's happening in the car.

 Apparently just push past the understeer, give it a bit of prod of power and you can really slide the car out quite nicely, it’s amazing and feels rear wheel drive and its stuff like this that makes you know that Ford as a company has a sense of humour and wants you have fun with your hot hatch I really admire that.

 Yeah we like that, we like that a lot, well done Ford.  As you can probably tell I got a bit over-enthusiastic out there on the track but this car begs for that sort of enthusiasm and all it takes is a few laps to realize that this is something truly special that Ford have made here. Look past the boorish looks and the bombastic exhaust note, shake off your inhibitions and you'll be buying something truly exhilarating and a new first for the hot hatch market as well.  Its exceptional in almost every single respect and that includes the price which given the level of performance would be great value for twice the price.