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2018 Ford Focus RS LE long-term review: Part 2

Motor Magazine logo Motor Magazine 12/2/2018 Dylan Campbell

THE FORD Focus RS Limited Edition is like a dog that’s halfway between little puppy and full grown. It wants to have fun all the time.

And when you no longer want to play tug-of-war with a footy sock or throw the ball for the umpteenth time, it’s straining at the leash, impatient to run around some more. In this creature’s universe, when you’re not sprinting and snorting and running amok, you’re switched off, biding time until the next max-energy assault.

In the modern hot hatch universe, none are as cheeky, fun or exciting as the new Ford Focus RS. Particularly this one, the Limited Edition, with track-spec Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tyres and a limited-slip front differential.

a view of a car © Provided by Bauer Media Pty Ltd

Watch: Ford Focus RS development videos

Plainly it has long departed the original design brief of the Focus itself. It certainly feels like it has, as we are learning after Month Two with our new all-wheel drive, WRC-infused long-term weapon.

Having now driven the car properly on the mean streets of Melbourne for two months, we are still trying to decide whether or not this is a car we could live with on a daily basis. It’s almost like an electric car in that it has a very short range, but of comfort to the user rather than distance.

How far that range is depends on your tolerance to the Focus RS’s very sporting suspension and supportive yet unapologetically thinly-padded Recaros. And, in the Limited Edition’s case, the 19-inch Cup 2 tyres, which talk to you in great detail about the road surface. Even when perhaps you’re not in a listening mood.

And mood could be the best way to describe living with the Focus RS Limited Edition. Unlike some of its more mature hot hatch rivals, the Focus RS comes with just one mood.

If you’re anything like me, your mood is much more likely to align with that of the RS on a Saturday or Sunday than Monday to Friday. Of course, when you and the Focus RS are on the same frequency, any sacrifices to liveability are well rewarded. No other hot hatch drives like it.

While its 257kW/440Nm, 2.3-litre four-cylinder engine is obviously heavily turbocharged, power and torque are strong, as is the all-wheel drive traction. The Focus RS emits a rorty four-cylinder note, the highlight of which is the pops and occasional backfire on upshifts. You will have confusing urges to fang through the nearest forest. 

While the Focus RS feels as tall as it is wide – a sensation not helped by a high-ish seating position – the handling is mega.

With a bit of temperature in the tyres, punted hard through a few corners, you will have the thought, ‘wow’. The grip is satisfying, but so is the feedback and the feel of the tyre on the road – which does wonders for confidence. And when driving fast, confidence is the difference between a car feeling exciting or scary.

a car parked in a parking lot © Provided by Bauer Media Pty Ltd

Back in daily life, the Focus RS is a welcome companion for other reasons. While I have been disappointed in myself to have had the thought, after a very long day driving a desk, that I wished I was piloting something more comfortable home than the Cup-tyre shod RS, I have found myself grateful for its practical ability.

a car parked in a parking lot © Provided by Bauer Media Pty Ltd

In one week, I was able to pick up my elderly grandparents without even thinking twice if the RS would be suitable, access to the second row easy thanks to generous door openings. That weekend, the Focus’s boot, rear seats folded down (they don’t go flat), swallowed up an enormous cardboard box without any problems.

There’s something very reassuring about having the Focus RS and knowing it can do these things if you need it to.

In the coming updates, we’ll continue to explore the Focus RS as a daily proposition, but our sense for now is that it depends on the driver. If I owned it, I would regularly fantasise about the comparatively blissful, long stroke-feeling ride of a VW Golf R or Honda Civic Type R.

More MOTOR long-term reviews

By my report card, the Focus RS Limited Edition gets a C+ for comfort and an A for practicality. From next month, we will get stuck into the areas in which we know the Focus RS is A+.

This is Clever

Wipers pivot from bottom corners of windscreen for maximum coverage – very effective.

Month Two

Fuel Consumption this Month: 12.1L/100km

a piece of luggage sitting on the side of a blue car © Provided by Bauer Media Pty Ltd

Average Fuel Consumption: 12.1L/100km

Distance this Month: 400km

a piece of luggage sitting on the side of a blue car © Provided by Bauer Media Pty Ltd © Provided by Bauer Media Pty Ltd

Total: 4200km

Liked: It wants to have fun, all the time

Disliked: It wants to have fun, ALL THE TIME

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