Oh, Ford’s built a special Focus RS.
Yep, and the news is good and bad. The good? This is probably the fastest Focus yet. The bad bit is it’s the final act. RS factory lines in Saarlouis, Germany, will power down next year and the Limited Edition will be the last for a while.
That was brief. How long’s a while?
Ford ain’t saying. Or whether the RS will appear early or late in the next model’s lifecycle. Seeing it off will be 500 Limited Editions in Australia for $56,990.
And that comes with?
Eight changes. The boring stuff includes autonomous emergency braking, window tint, and a black finish on the spoiler, mirror caps, and roof. While the Recaro seat bolsters beam in blue.
But the real news is more grip. Ford’s installed a front Quaife LSD and ticked the box for lightweight forged 19-inch wheels and Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tyres.
No one has complained about power, according to Ford, so its 2.3-litre turbocharged four endures untouched, bringing 257kW and 470Nm (on overboost) to the party.
The same driveline sophistication as an AMG A45, then.
The Focus RS hardly needed more grip, but Ford says so many customers do track days it was a no-brainer. So the new front diff is a helical type, while the rear item works like LSDs in cars three times as expensive.
Quite the parting gift.
On a Sydney Motorsport Park caked with rubber and coated with a fine drizzle, conditions were perfect for revealing what’s changed.
The base car quickly reminds you what makes it so rapid. Rock-solid braking becomes cutting turn-in before tenacious roadholding takes over. Such slippery conditions, though, reveal the all-wheel drive system’s rear-biased personality. The back axle twinges under power where front drivers would be accelerating hard.
But this isn’t a problem for the Limited Edition. It digs in and fires out from corners with more velocity. That LSD settling down the chassis by absorbing more of its bulky 470Nm.
That’s surely the tyres.
There’s no doubting their effect on braking distances, mid-corner speeds, and overall lap times.
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The smooth, rounded Cup 2 tyre should hate water more than cats, however, even during warm-up the Limited Edition boasted superior traction, balance, and precision.
Does it still drift?
The Limited Edition struggled on a wet skidpan. Where the base car holds half-baked arcs, with forceful provocation, the LE grips up and start to push. It battled so much it would need an occasional breather to let its systems rest. The extra adhesion making it harder for the rear differential to overspeed the rear boots.
Mind you, this was at low speeds. And using a feature that is, while fun, ultimately pointless.
Should I buy one?
If you’re set on the Focus RS you don’t really have a choice. This is now the only variant available. And all are Nitrous Blue. Nor do the upgrades themselves represent excellent value. As you could previously option the same wheel and tyre package for $2500 and buy the same Quaife LSD through Ford Performance for US$1199.
It won’t be the most exclusive thing, either. Around 1000 people have bought a Focus RS, which will mean a third of total sales will be the Limited Edition. There are also better daily drivers, nicer interiors, and that seating position suffers from Falcon syndrome. But Ford won’t have trouble selling the Limited Edition.
At its core, the Focus RS is a honed apex-eating animal. A very rapid thing that lives to thrill. It dominated Bang For Your Bucks last year. And while the Limited Edition’s price rise isn’t welcome, the extra pace means there’s every chance it’ll repeat the feat. There are few as fast for the money.
4.5 stars out of five
Ford Focus RS Limited Edition specifications:
Engine: 2261cc inline-four, DOHC, 16v, turbo
Power: 257kW @ 6000rpm
Torque: 440Nm @ 2000-5000rpm (470Nm on overboost)
0-100km/h: 4.7sec (claimed)