Many of Ken Block’s feats are performed in what you wouldn’t think of as a performance vehicle: a Ford Focus/Ford Fiesta. Unlike a Mustang or Raptor, these vehicles are not usually thought of when you think performance. Block’s cars undergo some serious decaling and upfitting before they make it onto the race track, but the Focus RS can give something close to the Ken Block experience.
Start with all-wheel drive with a torque-vectoring rear differential, then shift into first and fly down the street. The Focus RS has almost 100 more ponies under the hood than the Focus ST. The 2.3L turbocharged EcoBoost engine borrowed from the Mustang and 6-speed automatic transmission are just the beginning of the driving experience. The Torque Vectoring Drive Module is electronically controlled and has hydraulically actuated clutches on each rear-wheel. By monitoring the system 100 times per second, the clutches can transfer up to 100% of available power to the left/right wheel in under .1 seconds. If you are using launch control, this system also allows you to lock the rear axle together. When you’re cruising down the highway, the rear differential can declutch both rear wheels–until you need them again–to give the vehicle improved fuel economy.
Switch between the highway and track seamlessly with four different drive modes. Further customize how you drive the car by adjusting the suspension independently of the drive modes. You can stealthily zip down the street by putting the vehicle in Normal mode and adjusting the suspension to Sport mode. When you get back on the track, throwing the Focus RS into Sport, Track, or Drift mode will cause the exhaust to come out of the driver’s side tailpipe. These modes cause the engine to light fuel in the combustion chamber while the cylinder head is open, causing the car to backfire, gurgle, and pop. Regardless of the mode you are driving in, you can put the electronic stability control into sport mode, or turn it off to get the most out of your driving.
Specifically designed to perform on the track, and built with input from Ken Block, the RS is not an ST. The RS has a reinforced chassis, AWD, more power, and better steering and suspension. An additional piece of steel connects the rear shock towers to the rear subframe mounts. Added bracing on the front and rear subframes improves chassis stiffness by 23 per-cent over the base Focus. The roll bar also uses a more efficient design than the ST.
Even though the new RS shocks are electronically adjustable, they are very similar in valving and feel to the ST’s when the car is Normal Mode. Engaging Sport Mode increases the dampening by 40 percent and substantially firms up the car’s ride. The spring rates on the RS have been increased by 33 per-cent in the front and 38 per-cent in the rear over the ST.
The steering has been quickened from 2.5 turns lock-to-lock on the ST to two on the RS. The base feel of the steering wheel is slightly heavier than the ST in Normal Mode, but increases quite a bit when Sport is selected. The bottom of the steering wheel is flat to give you that performance feel.
Built for performance, the RS gets four-piston 350mm Brembo brakes, Recaro seats, electronically adjustable shocks and the ability to lap a track for 30 minutes without compromising on performance. The front grille was enlarged to get the most air into the intercooler. The hood and roof spoilers work with a lower diffuser to give the RS zero lift.
At Island Ford you can easily test drive the RS in a city setting. Once you own one though, you can attend Ford’s RS Adrenaline Academy and test out exactly what the RS is capable of, without wrecking your own tires. For two days, you get coaching and hands-on experience in Salt Lake City.