2018 Ford Focus RS

Introduced as a specialty model in 2016, the Ford Focus RS enters its last year of production for the 2018 model year with a limited edition run of 1000 copies for the U.S. and 500 for Canada. This makes the car an instant collectible. If you’ve been on the fence about getting a Focus RS, it’s time to jump down and claim yours before they’re all gone.  After all, we’re talking about the most potent Ford Focus ever created.

Powered by a 2.3-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine, the Focus RS employs 350 horsepower and 350 lb-ft of torque to motivate its 3434 pounds. That’s less than 10 pounds per horsepower, so this thing runs like a scalded dog looking for cold water. It will run from zero to 60 in under five seconds and do the quarter in just over 13.

 

What’s more, the Focus RS has a sophisticated all-wheel-drive system with a torque-vectoring rear differential; four-piston 350mm Brembo brakes, Recaro seats and electronically adjustable shocks. You can engage Sport, Track or Drift modes at the touch of a button. And, in Drift mode, you can go screaming into a corner too hot, wait for the tail to step out, countersteer just a bit, and giggle like a toddler with a new toy as the Focus holds itself on line and drifts through the turn.

You can also tailor the Focus RS to any given driving situation. The suspension system and steering response are independently adjustable. Thus, you can soften the dampers to deal with rough pavement, even while keeping steering and throttle response advanced—with traction and stability control minimized.  Ford also delivers the car wearing a set of the most aggressive performance tires available, the Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 on 19-inch wheels. If the Focus RS can be said to run like a scalded dog, its tires bite the pavement with the ferocity of one as well.

It would be irresponsible to unleash this much performance potential on the general public without adequate brakes. To that end, those big Brembos are capable of hauling the car down from OH MY GOODNESS WE’RE GONNA DIE — over and over again—without exhibiting any fade. They are also easily modulated, so you can call up the exact amount of braking you need, with outstanding pedal feel. This Ford’s brakes are just as much about car control as they are about stopping the car completely.

 

OK, that’s the good news.

 

Here’s the rest of the story.

When all is said and done, we are still basically talking about a Ford Focus. The premium you’ll pay over and above the cost of a standard Focus, or even the Focus ST, goes into the mechanicals. Inside, other than the Recaros and a sport steering wheel, you’ll be behind the wheel of a Ford Focus. All of the instrumentation, as well as the cabin materials, are basically the same. Navigation was added as an option for 2018 and the Recaros are power-adjustable; but other than that, it’s a Ford Focus. That could be a turnoff when you’re considering spending $40K for a ride.

Additionally, on rough roads, you’ll immediately realize the Focus RS engineering team sacrificed ride quality to the gods of handling. What’s more, while the Focus RS goes with the capability of significantly more expensive cars, it lacks the sophisticated polished of the Civic Type R or the Volkswagen Golf R—let alone anything from BMW. However, to judge the Focus RS based upon those standards is to overlook what the car is really about. While not exactly track-focused, the Ford excels in that environment, even as it leaves a bit to be desired in terms of comfort and civility on the street.

And again, we’re talking about a limited run of an exceptionally high performing automobile—one enthusiasts all over the world recognize as being very desirable. So, once again, you might want to start climbing down off that fence before they’re all gone.

 

Pricing starts at $41,995.

 

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