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2016 Ford Focus RS AWD - Rocket Review By John Heilig

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By John Heilig
Bureau Chief
Mid-Atlantic Bureau
Thge Auto Channel

ENGINE: 2.3-liter Ecoboost I-4
TRANSMISSION: 6-speed manual
HORSEPOWER/TORQUE: 350 hp @ 6,000 rpm/350 lb.-ft. @ 3,200 rpm
WHEELBASE: 104.3 in.
LENGTH X WIDTH X HEIGHT: 171.7 x 80.5 x 57.8 in.
TIRES: P235/35R19
CARGO: 13.2/43.9 cu.ft. (rear seat backs up/down)
ECONOMY: 19 mpg city/25 mpg highway/18.6 mpg test
FUEL TANK: 12.4 gal.
CURB WEIGHT: 2,987 lbs.
TOWING CAPACITY: Not recommended
STICKER: $39,560 (includes $895 delivery, $2,785 options)
BOTTOM LINE: As a compact/midsize car, the Ford Focus is a decent vehicle. But let Ford Performance do its magic and the Focus RS turns into a raucous sports sedan that can make even the most sedate drive an adventure.

From its huge maw of a grille that is ready to accept all the air possible into the turbocharged 2.7-liter engine, to the dual exhausts in the rear that advertise the car’s coming far in advance, the Ford Focus RS is a true sports sedan. Just for starters, it has a fat steering wheel that is required of the genre and Recaro seats that want to develop a closer relationship with your every time you enter the car. But, boy is it fun.

Like its brother Ford Performance stablemate the Mustang GT350, the Focus RS has, not only the Recaro seats, but Brembo brakes and P235/35R9 Michelin Super Sport tires. Add the low profile tires to a beefed-up suspension and you have a ride that’s not necessarily the smoothest around. A spoiler over the rear hatch adds to the performance image.

But take that package on your favorite winding road and the Focus RS clings to the road no matter how exuberantly you enter a corner and it sticks to the road. Ford claims the RS will pull 1.0 Gs if you try hard. We didn’t.

The RS is a fun drive that brings out the youngster in you. With the stiff suspension, it offers a hard ride that is okay for handling on roads that aren’t quite smooth. Still, it can be driven to the supermarket like a “normal” car without all the noise.

The engine has huge horsepower and torque that results in great acceleration. It’s fun to be one of the “little guys” on the highway with the power to blow off almost all the big guys. The great torque also allows you to remain in a higher gear than the “shift advisor’ on the i.p. recommends. Shifting with the 6-speed manual is crisp.

Built in Germany the Focus RS still has vestiges of the Focus base car, so it’s almost possible to imagine what the more “normal” version of the sedan would be like. For example, the instrument cluster is clear, but we had to switch the central information panel to a digital speedometer because the analog version on the right was hard to read in less-then-perfect daylight. And with a car like the RS, you MUST know how fast you’re going. There are three supplement gauges on the top of the dash for oil temperature, turbo boost and oil pressure. 

Three drive modes - similar to the Mustang GT350 - are available. Normal and sport are for the road.Then there are track only and drift for more controlled environments.  

I must confess to a surprise when the engine shut off at a traffic light. Start/stop isn’t what you’d expect in this type of car, but it does help with the economy. Lighter pressure with my right foot probably would have helped even more.

Front seat comfort is great with the Recaro seats, once you get in. An assist handle aids the passenger, while the driver must grab the wheel for assistance. Rear legroom is tight, which is why I classify the RS as a compact rather than as a midsize as the EPA suggests. 

Amenities such as a blind spot warning are important, so you don’t accidentally pull out in front of someone. Rather than lights, the Focus has convex mirrors in the outer top quadrant of the exterior rear view mirrors that give a good view of the lanes to your left or right. 

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Although it takes some learning, the infotainment screen is clear. For some reason we couldn’t tune in some of our favorite Sirius XM stations, so he used alternates that worked well.

At the base of the center stack is a small cubby wth USB and 12-volt outlets. There’s a small center console/arm rest and large door pockets for storage.

Cars like the Focus RS aren’t for everyone, and shouldn’t be driven by anyone without some serious driving experience. Despite its noise and harsh ride, it is a fun car.

(c) 2016 The Auto Page Syndicate

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