The 2016 Ford Focus RS is the latest salvo into the world of super-hot hatches, and it arrives in Australia in mid-2016. The 257kW all-wheel-drive monster will be the bargain of the lot, too—the RS, available as a single manual-only model, will be priced at $50,900 from launch.
Watch our video of the Focus RS debut from the 2015 New York Auto Show by clicking play above.
The Focus RS is Ford’s sixth performance model to be launched here in two years. It sits atop the multicultural Ford range alongside the Australian Falcon XR8—while it survives—and the forthcoming, American-built Mustang V8.
Crucially, the RS undercuts nearly all of its key rivals on price. It will be more accessible than the 206kW Volkswagen Golf R ($52,740) and the 240kW BMW M135i ($62,900).
The Focus will be dramatically cheaper than the marginally quicker 265kW Mercedes-AMG A45 ($75,700), and the recently crowned hot hatch king, the 270kW Audi RS3 ($78,900).
These are, of course, the new breed of premium hot hatches, but there is absolutely still an appeal to the bang-for-your-buck phenomenon. Ford understands this and the Focus RS carries the torch for affordable performance.
That performance is sourced from an intensively-tuned version of the turbo four under the bonnet of the Mustang EcoBoost. In Focus RS form, it makes 257kW and 440Nm—and thanks to a sophisticated all-wheel-drive system, it now has a decent chance of getting to the ground.
The all-paw system can vigorously channel power between and across axles to all four corners. The standard torque vectoring system will work overtime when the specialised ‘Drift Mode’ is selected, which will promote four-wheel drifting.
A six-speed manual gearbox is the only available transmission in a purist-pleasing move. However, it will be packing an innovative Stall Recovery system, which will automatically engage the clutch for the driver when an impending stall is detected.
That might be just what is needed to promote the purchase of more manuals—taking the intimidation out of getting into rowing your own.
There will be adjustable dampers. The ride will undoubtedly be firm, though some adjustability should bring a degree of placid comfort before moving through a range of more sporting settings.
Sending the drive to all four wheels means the Focus RS isn’t particularly light, at 1575kg. However, all that power plus Launch Control means it’s good for 4.7 second sprints to 100km/h.
Despite that low price of entry, equipment levels are good. The RS will wear 19-inch wheels standard. For another $2,500, they can be upgraded to a forged, black-painted arrangement wearing upgraded 235/35 R19 Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tyres with superior grip.
Inside, there’s an eight-inch touchscreen, leather-microfibre Recaro buckets, navigation with one-shot voice control, dual-zone climate control, and a nine-speaker stereo.
Outside, the distinctive body kit sets the RS apart wearing one of four colours. In most markets, including Australia, Nitrous Blue will be the focus colour; though white, Magnetic Grey, and Shadow Black will also be offered for those, like us, who prefer a sleeper.
2016 Ford Focus RS: Australian price
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