For the longest time European automotive enthusiasts have had the pleasure of access to an over-abundance of small fast cars they refer to as “hot hatches”.
I had to read European magazines to experience the slightest excitement from this class of car, dreaming of the day that those of us who live on the North American continent would be blessed with these amazing little creations.
We had some exposure with cars like the Subaru WRX STi and the recent Ford Fiesta ST, but that just made us long for more.
It seemed unfair that the Europeans got to enjoy American cars that we had no access to.
Well, it seems Ford has heard our whimpers, and at long last decided to grant us access to its most powerful hot hatch; the Focus RS.
The 2015 Focus RS is actually the third generation of the model, and is the beginning of Ford’s renaissance of performance vehicles, well at least for us. The most exciting news perhaps though, is that the RS is only 1 of 12 new vehicles the company plans on unleashing by 2020.
The RS is powered by a 2.3L 4 cylinder that spins to 6,800 rpm has excellent low end torque, pulls hard through the mid-range and screams at the high end.
The EcoBoost design features direct fuel injection, twin independent variable camshaft timing, advanced turbocharging and Auto Start-Stop as standard, the engine also delivers significantly improved fuel consumption.
The six-speed manual transmission is an enthusiasts dream with a shorter gear lever to deliver faster and more accurate shifts. Due to the 315 plus hp developed by the 2.3L, the transmission and clutch had to be upgraded with stronger components to cope with the engine’s increased torque output. The abundant power will be sent to all 4 wheels, through a system that has torque vectoring control; and the sport suspension is significantly stiffer than that of the Focus ST, allowing you to experience over 1g while cornering.
Helping to make the RS a bit more civil for day to day use are features like: SYNC connectivity provides access to audio, navigation, climate control and mobile phones via voice control, and via a high-definition, 8-inch color touch screen. SYNC can be specified with rear view camera with park distance control, as well as a Sony premium sound system with 10-speakers including a subwoofer.
Keeping the interior focused on its performance roots are a new flat-bottomed steering wheel with a soft-feel leather-covered rim, alloy pedals and unique instrument graphics within the main cluster.
Being a high performance machine, driver will need the additional bank of gauges above the center console that displays turbocharger boost pressure, oil temperature and oil pressure.
The RS badge has been around since 1970, and has graced 30 cars throughout its history. Now it’s our turn to partake of the forbidden fruit of high performance, small American cars.
I for one am grateful.