We tell ourselves the same two words every time we see one of those fancy two seater, mid-engine sports car – “some day.” But then reality sets in and some day is actually never, cause it’s a pipe dream – us, normal people here have a 1% chance of actually owning that exotic specimen of a machine we see at Cars and Coffee. However what if you can have a car with similar traits, but in form of a twenty thousand dollar hatchback?? I’d say, where do I sign…?
Before you agree to those terms and conditions, maybe there are a few things you should know first.
Hot hatches have taken over like Meme’s on our Instagram – not that we mind – we can relate to meme’s as much as we can relate to a hot hatch – Volkswagen gives us the GTI, Kia has the Forte5 Turbo, and Ford fights back with the Focus ST. How much hotter can it really get in here?
In response to Volkswagens Golf R, Ford wasn’t going to back down from this hatch war – they said “okay, we see your messily 292-horsepower turbocharged mouse and raise you 350-horsepower from our 2.3-liter turbocharger out the Mustang.” If only that was a real conversation. Did you hear that right though, 350-horsepower? From an engine no bigger than a shoe box?
It takes a lot of very clever engineering to fit so much power into a small little car. First they had to upgrade the standard front-wheel drive Focus to Fords dynamic performance All-Wheel Drive system, then they lowered, stiffened, and fitted fatter tires. They stiffened the chassis and added more welds to make it more rigid and composed. They added bigger Brembo brakes and fitted a torque vectoring system somewhere underneath. I certainly hope you know how to drive too, it comes with a third pedal and six forward gears – only.
Volkswagen apparently didn’t get the same memo that Ford got, after all if you’re going to give your hatchback bonkers power, why not style it to look as such. Not only does the RS incorporate the Focus’ newest design pattern, but the RS comes with a different grille and lower cooling vents – side skirts and a big ass wing. Add some fat dual exhausts tucked between a rear diffuser and black out the 19-inch forged wheels makes our Nitrous Blue hatch look like a real life Hot Wheels.
Let’s run down the facts shall we – zero to 60 mph, 4.5 seconds and 60 mph to zero will snap your neck. The Focus RS offers four driving modes – more so, how mad do you really want to be and how much do you really want to crash – there’s normal and sport as per the usual, but then there’s Track and the famous Drift Mode. Unless you have access to a track that doesn’t have any other cars on it, drift mode is likely to be used once, then scare you enough to never use it again – leave it to the professionals.
With the Focus RS being lowered and fitted with stiffening springs, it has the ability to stay completely flat in a corner – absolutely no body roll. This of course makes the ride comfort about as cozy as a wooden roller coaster. Our sampler was upgraded with the Michelin Pro Series Cup 2 Tires that stick to the asphalt like gum caught in the hair. Then there’s the handling, it changes direction quicker than a gazelle being chased by a lion and the steering response so quick there’s no room for error.
At $42,245, the Focus RS can be a tough sale – after all it is based on a car that starts at $19,765. The RS comes with a love/hate relationship – those Michelin tires wrapped over 19-inch forged wheels not only cost $1990 and will cost about the same every 6-12 months. The transmission, while can intensify the driving pleasure comes with a stiff clutch – not so great in traffic. The Reccaro seats may hug us tighter than a straitjacket, but also squeak against the center console. And then there’s the rattles… oh so many rattles.
But what’s a super car without its area of problems – 10-minutes behind the wheel at full throttle and all of sudden those problems disappear. The turbo spools up quick leaving nearly zero lag. Flat out, the exhaust will bark and pop setting off car alarms. The gear changes glides through each transition so smoothly a toddler could change gear. And then there’s the sound of the engine that sounds like a teenagers mating call from a Subaru.
With the Focus RS now being the highest trim level the Focus can go, it’s equipped with darn near everything – SYNC3 with Navigation – Power Driver Seat – Heated Front Seats – Heated Steering Wheel – Dual-Zone Climate Control. The interior is about a stylish as the inside of a high schools locker – the seats at least are part leather part suede with blue contrast stitching and embossed ‘RS’ logos – in case you forgot what you’re driving. And because it is after all a hatchback, it’s semi-sensible – there’s enough room in the back for 2.5 children and enough trunk capacity to have all the canned goods fall out and roll around.
Fuel consumption wasn’t exactly the Focus RS’s strong suit – but that could have come down to the driver behind the wheel – given a little more time, we probably would have stopped fooling around… yeah no. We averaged 12.2 mpg over the EPA 22 combined averaged. And even though the trip computer read out 210 miles to empty, judging by the fact that we emptied its premium gold liquid from its tank in less than 150 miles says a different story.
The fact of the matter is, the Focus RS is in fact a very exciting car to drive, but not an easy one to live with. Unless you live and breathe your days at the track, the RS is the valued packed super hatch without spending six-figures. But if you live in the world of rush hour and diaper bags, this will end up being a pain in the ass.
|2016 Ford Focus RS:||$35,900|
|As Tested (including Options & Destination):||$42,245|
|2.3-liter EcoBoost Four-Cylinder – 350-Horsepower, Six-Speed Manual Transmission – 0-60MPH: ±4.5 seconds|
|EPA MPG: 19/25/22 (City/Highway/Combined) – SSB Average: 12.2 MPG’s – Fuel Range: ±210 Miles|