Ford Focus RS: yawn, says a barely bothered Ben Whitworth
11 January 2008 11:32
Am I the only one left stone cold by the utter irrelevance of a 300bhp Focus RS? I mean 300bhp – that’s just a ludicrous amount of power and torque to put through the front wheels of any car, no matter how talented its chassis, suspension and steering set up. If the combined genius of Lotus can barely manage to tame a hairy-backed 280bhp Astra VXR, how can Ford hope to make the more powerful RS a daily driver?
In a front-drive car, control is as important, if not more so than power. Look at the perfectly balanced Golf GTI. Any more power would make it unruly, any less would leave you disappointed. Enough to be seriously quick, not enough to totally corrupt steering feedback.
Sure, Ford has an RS heritage to draw from - anyone remember the Escort RS Cosworth? – but such a legacy should liberate not shackle. Repeating the recipe of the outgoing Focus RS would be a huge mistake. Why? Because unlike the vast majority of my motoring colleagues, I thought the RS was an absolute crock.
Yes, it was pretty brisk and tidy on a smooth, dry and familiar track, but on real roads it was an absolute pig. Despite the trickery of its front diff, it still suffered from terrific torque steer that made anything other than straightline work a knuckle-whitening experience. It made the indicator stalk largely redundant when it came to overtaking, because you had no idea if the car was going skew left or right as you scrabbled past the traffic ahead.
In my eyes the RS badge would be squandered on the proposed fwd short-cut car. A new RS should draw on its recent – and largely unnoticed – WRC success. Ford should take a leaf out of Alfa’s book develop a real <itals> flagship. A blood-spitting 3o0bhp all-wheel-drive Focus with plenty of technical innovations to underline its technical prowess – like a double-clutch box, variable torque split and adjustable dampers – to take on (and ideally undercut) the Evo X and Impreza STI. Make just a few thousand, price it at £22,000 and watch them sell like hotcakes, reinforcing Ford’s engineering-led image and further polishing the RS badge. Anyone out there agree with me?