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2018 Ford Focus RS Limited Edition track review

By David Morley, 24 Jul 2018 Best Value Performance Cars

Newfound grip and a trick LSD transforms an already formidable package

2018 Ford Focus RS Limited Edition review

There will possibly be those who don’t reckon that the Limited Edition version of the Focus RS should be here at all.

This track review was carried out in conjunction with MOTOR's Bang For Your Bucks 2018

They will point at the BFYB rule that says a car must be substantially changed (or totally new) before it can have a second bite at the Bang cherry. They will further ague that autonomous braking and blue leather trim does not a new Focus make.

Well they can get stuffed. Because let me tell you right here, right now, that while smart braking and dead cow won’t cut it, the Quaife LSD and the Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 hoops most certainly do. And isn’t it nice to see a manufacturer spending the money where it’s needed, rather than window-dressing a car that still trips over its own scarf in a corner?

To be brutally honest, the Focus RS didn’t wow us at last year’s Bangfest as much as it probably should have. Well, speaking for myself anyway. I just came away from the Winton circuit wondering why the RS didn’t carry more corner speed. Oh sure, it was fast in a lap-time sense, but purely because it jumped out of turns so hard and accelerated like it was on fire. But actual mid-corner speed? I couldn’t find it.

But now, with the extra power-down of the clever diff and those super sticky Cup 2s, I was able to make the Focus flow so much better. Suddenly, I could tip it in, line up the apex and get back on the noise fast, just as you should be able to in an all-wheel drive hot hatch.

Luffy’s equal-fastest lap time in the wee blue Ford backs that up; so does the RS’s average corner-speed trace that puts it up at the pointy end. And suddenly, you can make better use of that super-quick steering-rack and the way it allows you to really stick a fork in the apex rather than simply brush by it, hoping for the best.

In fact, the RS is a car that will easily cope with giving the ripple-strips a bit of an elbow now and then, too. There’s more compliance than I remember and, while that does amount to a small degree of body roll, the damping is bang on the money. And since the seats grab you so well, that bit of roll doesn’t matter quite as much.

This new level of grip and poise allows you to also further exploit the Focus’s other charms of which there are many. Primary among them, of course, is that monster engine which not only sounds grouse, but also tugs you along like only a 257kW claymore mine can.

You still get a slight sense of disjointedness as the acceleration graph dips while you shift gears, but that’s really only because it’s such a surging animal when it boosts back up and, possibly, because we’ve all become used to seamless double-clutch transmissions.

Perhaps the only mild downside to all this new grip is that the RS is even harder to launch across 400m than ever. You need to ignore all concepts of mechanical sympathy, rev the thing to the limiter and side-step the clutch.

Fortunately, the RS feels like it would take that sort of thuggery all day long, but sometimes, even that level of brutality is insufficient to keep the engine on boost and the 60-foot times where they should be.

Frankly, the new LE version of the Focus RS is so good that had it turned up last year in the same form, it might very well have taken home the chocolates. Problem with waiting 12 months to give us the LE is that the rest of the world hasn’t been standing still either.

Where cheap thrills can be a virtue on Bang For Your Bucks 2018 

Ford Focus RS Limited Edition BFYB 2018 Results - 2nd place

0-100km/h: 5.00sec (3rd)
0-400m: 13.34sec @ 170.49km/h (4th)

Lap Time: 1:35.90sec (=1st)

Price: $56,990

Bang Index: 186.7

Bucks Index: 88.1

BFYB Index: 142.4

Judges' Comments

Warren Luff - 2nd
“You can drive the Ford Focus RS LE really hard into the corner, to the point where you feel like you’ve gone in too quick, but as soon as you grab the throttle, all of the electronics makes the car turn and rotate. Yet, in some low-speed stuff I think the basic mechanical grip isn’t quite a match for some of the other cars here. Still, this thing, on the limit, is a huge amount of fun. It’s also got a great engine, that’s reasonably torquey.”

David Morley - 2nd
“Stickier tyres have completed the picture”

Dylan Campbell - 2nd
“Made for the track, endlessly fun, epic chassis to explore”

Scott Newman - 2nd
“Fast and grippy yet supremely adjustable. So much fun”

Louis Cordony - 4th
“Tyres and diff inject it with unbelievable grip levels, but its brakes eventually went soggy”

FAST FACTS 
2018 FORD FOCUS RS LIMITED EDITION

BODY: 5-door, 5-seat hatch
DRIVE: all
-wheel
ENGINE: 2261cc inline-4, DOHC, 16v, turbo
BORE/STROKE: 87.4mm x 94.0mm
COMPRESSION RATIO: 9.4:1
POWER: 257kW @ 6000rpm
TORQUE: 440Nm @ 2000-4500rpm
WEIGHT: 1575kg
POWER-TO-WEIGHT: 163kW/tonne
TRANSMISSION: 6-speed manual 
SUSPENSION: struts, coils springs, adaptive dampers (f); multi-links, coil springs, adaptive dampers, anti-roll bar (r)
BRAKES: 350mm ventilated discs, 4-piston calipers (f); 350mm ventilated discs, single-piston calipers (r)
WHEELS: 19.0 x 8.0-inch (f/r)
TYRES: Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2; 235/35 R19 (f/r)  
PRICE: $56,990

Bang For Your Bucks 2018

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