The previous generation Ford Focus RS was a crazy machine that sent 305 horsepower through the front wheels in all its torque-steering glory. Sadly, it was only available in Europe and never made its way stateside. When the next generation was announced, though, America finally got included. It was big news.
When we heard the RS was getting all-wheel-drive and more than 315 horsepower, we got even more excited. The Focus ST was already a great hot hatch, and the promise of all-wheel-drive and even more power meant even more fun would be had.
Then Ford announced that “more than 315 horsepower” actually meant something closer to 350 horsepower, and we got even more excited. That was very big news.
There were still a few important pieces of information missing, though, like exactly how fast the Focus RS would be and what it would cost. The good news is, Ford just announced those figures along with a few other tidbits of interesting information that make it sound like the upcoming Focus RS is going to be one seriously hot hatch.
According to Ford, 60 miles per hour arrives in less than 4.7 seconds, and if you hold the pedal down long enough, it will top out at 165 miles per hour.
Unless your current daily driver is something like the Porsche 911 Turbo, that’s some serious acceleration. That zero to 60 time isn’t even very far off that of the much-more-powerful Mustang GT. Considering that the Focus RS sends its power to all four wheels instead of only two of them like the Mustang GT does, that’s not surprising, but it’s still impressive.
So what’s all that sort-of-practical speed going to set you back? It’ll obviously cost more once you begin tacking on options, but Ford says the Focus RS will start at $36,605 in North America.
That’s a little bit pricier than its main competitors, the Volkswagen Golf R and the Subaru WRX STI, but the Focus RS also offers significantly more power. The Golf R only makes 292 horsepower, putting it down by at least 50, and the WRX STI makes 305 horsepower.
Despite both vehicles being down on power, they’re not necessarily that much slower than the Focus RS. The WRX STI is quoted at 5.1 seconds to 60, while the Golf R’s time is officially quoted at 4.9 seconds. Those are likely conservative estimates since both have been clocked hitting 60 faster than their official times, but there’s also no telling what an instrument test of the Focus RS will show.
Where Ford has a real opportunity to make the Focus RS shine is in the driving experience. The WRX STI earns its reputation because of its superb handling, and a Golf R with DCC may even be better to drive. An advantage in acceleration of a few tenths of a second is great, but how it feels to be behind the wheel will be even more important.
The good news is, the Focus RS also has launch control, which will make it even easier to nail hard launches and achieve the manufacturer-quoted zero-to-60 time.
The real fun, though, will most likely come from putting the car in drift mode. Putting down the fastest lap time will be important for a lot of people, but getting the tail out and sliding a car around the track is where the real entertainment lies. When you’re not interested in drifting around every turn, Ford also offers normal, sport, and track modes.
If a 350-horsepower, all-wheel-drive hot hatch with drift mode sounds like it’s up your alley, and you can swing the $36,605, North American deliveries are expected to begin spring of 2016.