For all the years I’ve been an auto journalist, my favourite review car was the 2014 Ford Fiesta ST. It had the looks, the right price point, and boy oh boy did it have explosive power and an off-the-charts fun to drive factor. After spending an exhilarating week in the 2017 Ford Focus RS, the blue oval’s incredibly fast, powerful and beautiful hot hatch, it appears there’s room at the top for two.
Here are my six takeaways from a blissful week behind the wheel.
1. The raw power produced from a 2.3L four-cylinder turbocharged EcoBoost engine is remarkable. 350 fire-breathing horses and an equal 350 lb-ft. of torque can take you from a dead stop to 100 km/h in 4.75 seconds. Thankfully, the RS only comes in a six-speed manual transmission which offers crisp, accurate throws and despite a slightly heavy clutch, rowing through the gears is done with ease. Filling the 46L tank should be done on 91 octane but preferably 94 octane to give the best possible performance.
Stopping such a powerful car is left up to the very capable four-piston 350mm Brembo brakes.
During a week of close to 650 km of mixed driving, I scored 10.4 L/100km, which is impressive and a direct reflection of the EcoBoost engine and due in part to the auto start/stop feature while stopped.
Could the RS be a hot daily driver and efficient? Absolutely.
2. The four drive modes will suit nearly anyone. Between Normal, Sport, Track and Drift, the latter should be utilized for a controlled environment. Ford says “These modes adjust settings for shock tuning, stability control, engine and steering response, even exhaust sound.”
Normal is where most drivers will live for their daily commute and errands, with Sport showing its face on the highway or if you’re on rural roads that offer some twists and turns. As a performance car, the ride quality is relatively smooth but there will be some who would’ve preferred a softer ride.
3. The All-Wheel-Drive system is quite advanced. The torque vectoring control is a great start and Ford’s engineers have managed to send up to 70 percent of the available torque to the rear axle. Sensors monitor what’s happening (speed, steering wheel angle, drive mode, what gear you’re in, etc) about 100 times per second and react by giving you an optimized driving experience.
In fact, it’s based on twin electronically controlled clutch packs on each side of the rear drive unit. These manage the car’s front/rear torque split, and can control the side-to-side torque distribution on the rear axle – delivering the “torque vectoring” capability that has a dramatic impact on handling and cornering stability.
The short version? For the Canadian climate, the RS is well prepared, whether you’re on regular roads or the track.
4. The SYNC3 system comes with navigation and Bluetooth and, as is common for all the SYNC 3 interactions I’ve had, is extremely user friendly. If I’m driving Ford’s fastest production model Focus, I want an intuitive infotainment system to help with navigation and music.
5. The interior is is anchored by leather, heated Recaro seats that will keep you in place through every exciting movement in the RS. With blue stitching highlighting the modern interior, the flat bottomed steering wheel is ultra-comfortable. The dash and centre console are pretty much similar to what you’ll find in other current Focus offerings, which certainly isn’t a bad thing.
Finding my optimal driving position was easy and the tilt/telescopic steering ensures that nearly any body shape/size can find their sweet spot behind the wheel.
6. A $995 Nitrous Blue paint job takes an already great looking exterior from great to wonderful. Throw in the gorgeous 19” wheels, large spoiler, aggressive headlights and athletic stance and the RS certainly looks the part. Sure you can opt for black, white or grey, but the blue looks beautiful and should be the popular choice.
Hovering just below the $50K mark, the 2017 Ford Focus RS packs a ton of value, power and fun for the money.
And even though it’s roaring with power, it’ll still be a solid daily driver. A very powerful, gorgeous daily driver.
Enjoy the full gallery below: