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Ford Focus RS: Too Much of a Good Thing

2009 Ford Focus RS

A couple of things that my father stressed to me from an early age were that handling isn’t the same thing as roadholding and that ride quality is rather important.

This latter lesson came back as I was driving a Ford Focus RS the other week in the U.K. The British press has fallen in love with the RS - and it’s not hard to see why. At about $36,000 shorn of taxes, the RS costs about the same money in the U.K. as a Subaru WRX STI and has 300 hp from a heavily reworked Ford/Volvo turbocharged 2.5-liter five-cylinder engine. The Ford engineering team has almost eliminated torque steer, no mean feat on a front-drive car with this much horsepower.

2009 Ford Focus RS interiorOn an English country road, this 163-mph hatchback is about as fast as you would ever need. Although the 0-to-60-mph time isn’t startling at 5.7 seconds, the mid-range performance is astonishing. The brakes are superb. It grips brilliantly, and the handling is surprisingly neutral for a front-driver. It has a steroidal bodykit that looks amazing to the average 25-year-old gearhead or is a little bit embarrassing if you’re double that age and don’t want unwanted attention from law enforcement. Inside, there are all sorts of hot-car styling touches as well as Recaro seats that fully-formed Americans wouldn’t appreciate. The seating position is a bit too high for my liking, but otherwise it’s a comfortable cabin and the interior of a European Focus is a revelation, with far higher quality materials than the U.S.-spec machine gets.

But - and this is a huge “but” - I couldn’t live with a Focus RS. That’s because the ride is shockingly harsh. It is just about acceptable on smooth highways, but on a bumpy road, the RS is Conestoga-wagon stiff and causes the car to leap around more than I’m comfortable with. On a track, it’s probably wonderful, but on the street it’s unpleasant.

We’re pretty sure that Ford is currently engineering a version of this car for the next-generation Focus, and that it’s being considered for the U.S. If it comes here, the price will have to be held in check and the ride needs some work. My advice to Ford: bring the next-generation Focus ST instead, because it’s not much slower and it’s a better everyday driver.

Related posts:

  1. 2009 Ford Focus RS – Auto Shows
  2. U.S. to Get 2011 Euro Focus; 2009 Ford F-150 Delayed – car News
  3. 2009 Ford Focus – Review
  4. 2009 Ford Focus SES Sedan – Short Take Road Test
  5. 2008 Ford Focus SES Sedan

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Ford Focus RS: Too Much of a Good Thing
Ford Focus RS: Too Much of a Good Thing

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Ford Inc Compare Automotive Prices

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