Ford Focus RS – A sensible choice for silliness
A car of two halves?
The phone rings – it’s Influx HQ.
Oh God, I’ve forgotten to send off my images with the article again, haven’t I. It’s only a matter of time before I’m sacked for this sort of silliness and as expected, it’s the boss. I gulp before saying hello. To my surprise, boss says something along the lines of: “We’re going to an airfield in Cornwall, want to bring anything to show off?” Thank the heavens for the existence of phone calls like this.
Being able to enjoy a spare airfield in a performance car is the rarest of automotive treats. It’s like Christmas, except it’s much sillier and goes by much faster, not to mention it’s far from an annual occurrence. Excitedly, I began to think about what kind of car would be most suitable for this sort of situation. Sure, there are special cars like Aston Martins, Bentleys, and even Ferraris that would be a huge amount of fun on an empty runway, but in the back of your mind you always want to protect and cherish cars with badges like that – let’s say those are the ones that you’d marry, not just a one-day stand.
As usual, seeking something out that I could have my way with was more difficult than expected, but I eventually managed to persuade Ford to let me borrow something designed to be thrashed around and exploited – the Ford Focus RS. In case you didn’t know, Ford consulted professional tyre slayer and gymkhana icon Ken Block in the development of the RS, and as far as I’m concerned that was permission enough to see if the car could be driven in a Blockesque manner.
Though the RS is primarily designed to take on the snaking country roads that led down to our Cornish airfield location, it also has more silly side to it – and that’s exactly what I was going to exploit on Perranporth’s windswept airfield.
It’s easy for us motoring writers to throw figures at you, and you’re going to suffer that again right now, but keep in mind that this is a Ford Focus. A small family shopping cart, an airport rental car. It’s like pigeons in a town-centre – there’s a Focus everywhere you look. Not so the Focus RS variant though – well over 300 horses are under the bonnet and they’re put to the tarmac via an all-wheel drive system. The result is performance of a level no Focus should be capable of, believe me when I say this drives like no other hot-hatch on sale today. “Hot” just isn’t appropriate for hatchbacks like this, if anything this is a super-hatch.
Just how ‘super’ this car is shows up on a circuit – or in this case an airfield – as you can really explore the boundaries of just what the Focus RS is capable of. Its ability to change direction at high-speed is remarkable, and throughout the entire time of thoroughly exploiting this car on a runway it never once left me feeling uncomfortable, lacking in confidence, or in danger.
Despite most of the power being sent to the rear-wheels, the front end of the car can initially be quite hard to overwhelm due to the large amount of grip available. However, a heavy right-foot pays dividends here and with a sharp flick of the steering wheel you can get the RS mimicking a ballerina in no time at all. ‘Drift Mode’ makes the back end kick out much easier, but it can be quite snappy and sudden and pulling off slicker, longer slides was much easier in ‘Race’ mode.
After all of this was done, the Focus RS was placed back into a normal mode, and it pottered off back up the Atlantic Highway as if nothing had ever happened. 30mpg with good ride quality and DAB radio, even a heated steering wheel. While it may have those standard Focus luxuries, don’t be thinking the RS can’t blow your mind.
The normal Ford Focus is a sensible choice of car, for sure. The RS, however, is a sensible choice for silliness.
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