What is it?
It’s hard to know where to start when describing the all-new 163mph, 301bhp Ford Focus RS. In simple terms this is the second generation of a car which cost Ford an awful lot of money at the beginning of this century, but that also did lots to restore the public’s faith in the RS brand.
What’s more, the new Ford Focus RS will turn a profit for the Blue Oval this time round – assuming Ford can find homes for the 8000 examples it intends to build over the next two years. How so? Because at last Ford has worked out a way of making the Focus RS on a regular Focus production line, a rather more economically sound method of production compared with the “I’ll build this bit, you build that bit, and maybe we’ll get someone else to fit that part before we paint it” construction technique of first-generation model.
The most controversial aspect of the car is its drivetrain, which remains front, not four-wheel drive. Ford’s engineers have developed and patented a system called the RevoKnuckle which, they claim, eradicates torque steer by keeping the kingpin offset angle very consistent, even under heavy load. And when you have 301bhp and a whopping 324lb ft on tap courtesy of a heavily modified version of the 2.5-litre turbo motor found in the Focus ST, this is crucial.
The chassis has been stiffened by approximately 30 per cent and there are bigger driveshafts, a much wider track, lower ride height and a faster steering rack.
What's it like?
In the raw the RS looks like a proper thug-mobile. From its gaping grille to its 19in wheels and tyres and enormous wing, the RS leaves you in no doubt about its intentions.
The big question, of course, is whether Ford really has managed to develop a front suspension system that enables the RS to deploy its 301bhp and 324lb ft without feeling like an unguided Exocet missile. And we’re glad to report that the answer is a resounding, faintly befuddled “you bet”.