Ride in the 350 hp Ford Focus RS

Ride in a Ford Focus RS
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B you probably know the nasty feeling: you have something Experienced something great, something fantastic, but not allowed to tell anyone - because you promised it. Betrayed anyway? Well, then Ford would be very angry with us and might hold us off with the test car. And you shouldn't risk that because the Ford Focus RS is such awesome ... - well.

All-wheel drive like the Ford Focus RS has never been seen before

You may now be seem confused, but the whole secrecy also has an advantage: namely that we can dedicate ourselves to the backgrounds for which there will definitely no longer be room in the correct driving report because of the sheer expressions of love. So, and more is no longer written between the lines.

The first contact with the new Focus RS takes place on Ford's test site in Lommel: on a lifting platform to rummage around in the underwear and on a tangled handling route over which the chauffeur various development engineers - “chauffeur” comes from the French and means “to heat”. Just by the way.

But before that, theory has to be worked out. Tyrone Johnson, head of the RS team, says that there is always a technical innovation, a USP that an RS model can ultimately be tied around with. With the first Focus RS it was the front axle lock, with the last one the five-cylinder - yes, Ford was there earlier than Audi with the RS 3 - and this time it is the all-wheel drive. And even if you rightly argue that this is nothing new in the compact class for a long time, I say: Oh yes, because there has never been one like this before.

Less emotion? Motor only!

But let's start with the worse news, that is, with the news that isn't quite as good as all of the following. And that concerns the engine, which tastes a little bitter, well, let's say bitter. Not that he could do anything for it himself: The 2.3-liter four-cylinder basically comes from the Mustang, but with a special twin-scroll charger, an aluminum cylinder head from Cosworth and a back pressure-reduced flap exhaust system for the Ford Focus RS a bit fresh - and also really in operation.

Nevertheless, compared to the five-cylinder predecessor, it lacks the charm, the sonority and that wildness: Instead of fighting with its turbo, the two now harmonize with each other.Together they pull themselves out of the lower speed range, gradually increase their vehemence and - this is also new - do not give up on the top. And before Ford accuses us of betraying the driving impression: Yes, you can tell all of this from the passenger seat.

Ford Focus RS with 350 HP and manual gearbox

Emotionality or not, the Ecobooster is nominally the old two-five in the bag: 350 hp, 440 Nm, in the short overboost phases even 470 Nm - so it is pretty much on the same level as the RS 500, the matt black foiled special model that crowned the previous series.

It is shifted - scene applause - manually, exclusively, via the well-known six-speed transmission. “Of course we also thought about a dual-clutch transmission,” confesses Johnson. “In the acceleration to one hundred that would have brought three tenths - but also disadvantages. Especially weight-related. ”You would have to swallow around 30 kilos compared to the manual transmission - at the expense of the front axle. “In addition, the Focus RS was supposed to be a driving car, and the hand control simply fits better.”

A launch control was installed in the new Ford Focus RS anyway. How it works? So: switch off ESP - completely, the Focus RS allows that. Then full throttle, now the four-cylinder regulates the speed at 5,000 /min, let the clutch fly, follow the shift commands, and off you go the Lutzi. How well the number actually works remains to be seen, in theory the 1,450-kilo four-wheel drive sprints to 100 in 4.7 seconds - in its standard configuration with road tires, mind you.

Launch control and sports tires

And that plays a role insofar as Ford officially now also offers semi-slicks. Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2, to be precise, specially cooked, of course. They not only bring in a few tenths in the sprint, but above all they reinforce the suspicion that Ford could finally mean it seriously with the performance. Don't get it wrong, the predecessor was more than a WRC mascot, definitely, but it always lacked the basis for veritable driving dynamics - Revo-Knuckle or Quaife-lock.

This problem should now be pretty much resolved. Because of the consistently more aggressive choice of tires, because of the abundance of small animals such as forged wheels, a really tough damper characteristic in track mode, the stiffened rear axle that is also connected to the side member and because of this - to finally let the point jump - all-wheel drive. “First we built a prototype based on the Haldex principle, which our competitors also use,” says Johnson. “However, that wasn't what we imagined in terms of driving dynamics. So we came up with something else. ”

The new GKN system works via a Power Transfer Unit (PTU), which is up to 70 percentthe force pushes through to the rear axle. There are two clutches, one for each wheel, which they then split up - depending on the driving mode and fully variable. This creates the well-known torque vectoring effect, i.e. a turning momentum in the direction of the apex of the curve. The only difference is that it does not take place here as usual by means of brake intervention, but progressively - with impressive effects.

Ford Focus RS for 39,000 euros

Now one can of course assume that that the Ford boys already know how to move their car, that the jaws of someone sit next to it. But one thing is clear: what they are doing here, no other compact car could do with them, no Audi RS 3, no Mercedes-AMG A 45, no BMW M135i either. The Ford Focus RS combines the traction of an all-wheel drive with the handling of a rear-wheel drive. They said that in advance. Already clear, you think: the blue of the sky. But then you sit in there and, even as a passenger, are completely amazed at how the thing twists and turns in bends and pushes your butt under load - controlled, extravagant, apparently just as you want, in drift mode more, not in the track program more than necessary.

The big question: Why can't the others manage this, the competition that we write about understeering every time? Quite simply: You would never break open your modular system, especially not for an insignificant derivative. Example RS 3. Of course, the thicker is motorized and tastier, but its technical framework remains the same as in every other transverse engine all-wheel drive in the group. Ford, on the other hand, dislocates itself for the Focus RS, puts effort into design and production. And yet the real punch line is the price: The result costs a comparatively ridiculous 39,000 euros. Therefore: take one, even if I am not allowed to explicitly explain why.


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