It was no surprise, then, that when the Mk2 Focus RS came around in 2009, things were a bit different.
Ford wanted to make 8000 of them over two years and, crucially, make some money out of them. More than 4000 came to the UK alone, priced from at least £26,995, so it made money, despite the fact that it felt fairly well removed from the standard Focus. Mechanically, it wasn’t, though – not by as much as the first one, at least.
Sure, it had fattened arches and a limited-slip diff, but it rolled down the same production line as the regular Focus, which makes a huge difference to the production cost.
That meant Ford could afford to be a little liberal with some of the hardware, so it gave the RS RevoKnuckle suspension on the front struts, to cut the torque steer that would come with 301bhp and 325lb ft.
RevoKnuckle is a different name for a similar system that Renault and Vauxhall use and it’s worth going over it again. In a normal strut, the whole shebang pivots around the spring strut itself. Which is fine but, when you consider how much torque steer the 212bhp, 229lb ft Mk1 Focus gave you, you can imagine what the Mk2 would be like.
Without a limited-slip diff, some full-throttle energy just scrabbles away into the ground. With an LSD, though, both tyres are hunting for grip and finding it, tugging the steering this way and that while they’re doing it.
That’s where a RevoKnuckle/dual-axis strut comes in. It’s an extra knuckle, closer to the wheel’s centre line than the strut, about which the wheel pivots instead of at the strut. That reduces the radius about which the wheel rotates and, in turn, reduces the amount of force the wheel can exert on the steering.
It sounds more complicated than it is; the shortened distance is like pushing near the hinge of a door rather than at the handle. The same force moves the door less.It still moves it a bit, so the Mk2 torque steered, but that wasn’t the worst of it. We ran one for 12 months and about 15,000 miles, during which it got through three sets of front tyres. We gave it the beans quite a lot, I suppose. But still, that was the disadvantage of the amount of power and torque it had to deliver. But what a powerplant it had to deliver it.
The first two RSs reflect the state of the automotive business at the time. The early 2000s were freer, so a halo model could afford to have a holed business case.
The second RS couldn’t, but it did take advantage of the fact that until 2009 Ford had owned Volvo, whose 2.5-litre five-cylinder engine the ST and RS had developed. And it was a humdinger.