Wednesday, June 14, 2017

2017 Ford Focus RS Hatchback AWD

Highlight: The Focus RS is only available as a four door hatchback with a six-speed manual transmission.

Vehicle’s MSRP: $39,780 (base model $36,995)

Seating Capacity: 5

Standard Safety Features: airbags; ABS; Daytime running lights; all-wheel drive; a rear view camera; perimeter alarm; a tire pressure monitoring system; a hill start assist system; and sideview integrated blind spot mirrors

Standard Equipment: 19-inch wheels; RS badging; sport exhaust with dual bright tips; a high mounted rear spoiler; manual folding sideview mirrors; aluminum gas/brake pedals; a leather wrapped steering wheel; a manual operated front seats; partial leather Recaro seats; a tilt/telescopic steering wheel; a dual zone temperature control system; SYNC’s infotainment system; an automatic start/stop technology; a push-button keyless ignition starter system; a flat bottom steering wheel; driving mode adjustments; and automatic headlights

Options: a power driver’s seat; leather Recaro with Miko-Dianmica inserts; heated mirrors; heated front seats; a heated steering wheel; and a voice-activated touchscreen navigation system  

Other Trim Level:

Focus (non performance)

Standard Audio On Test Vehicle: a 10-speaker AM/FM/HD/CD with a satellite radio system

Bluetooth Connectivity: Yes

USB Connectivity:  Yes

Bumper-to-Bumper Warranty: 3 years or 36,000 miles

Powertrain Warranty: 5 years or 60,000 miles

Standard Engine/Horsepower: 2.3-liter, 4-cylinder/350-hp

Recommended Fuel: Premium

Standard Fuel Mileage: 19-city/25-hwy

What’s New: After being introduced in 2016, the fun-to-drive high- performance compact is basically a carryover for the 2017 model year.

Why: With hatchbacks gaining popularity again, Ford was right on time to add a high-performance European-designed Focus to its portfolio in 2016. The roomy, all-wheel drive Focus RS is powered by a six-speed manual transmission. This powerhouse compact allows drivers to easily sort through four driving modes: normal, sport, track or drift mode. These driving modes allow one to test the performance and handling capabilities of the Focus RS on open highways, winding roads and on the track. We must note that Ford stresses that drift mode should only be used on the track.

In the Focus RS, the standard front bucket Recaro seats help to keep the occupants in place, as the compact hatchback, seamlessly pumps out an extraordinary 350-horsepower from the four-cylinder engine, which is capable of producing 350 lb-ft of torque. And it’s quite obvious that there is something massive under the hood of this compact just from the sound of the engine noise.

Surprisingly, the tight handling hatchback, is not only a car for racing on the weekends, but a vehicle one can use as an everyday driver. The Focus RS is outfitted with a MacPherson strut front suspension system and a SLA independent rear suspension system that helps to make this a great road vehicle too. In fact, the Focus RS doesn’t compromise comfort or room in the rear seating area. Added to that, with this being a hatchback, the rear seats can be folded flat, providing more cargo room.

The sturdy Focus RS, which has a top speed of 165-mph, rides on standard 19-inch tires. And in order to maintain control of the Focus RS, Ford equipped the vehicle with colored brake calipers, which works in conjunction with the Brembro brake pads to stop the vehicle on a dime.

Besides the noted features, our Focus RS was outfitted with an automatic temperature control system, heated front seats, a power driver’s seat, and loads of useful gauges to monitor the engine performance and the like of this little pocket rocket.

And while our vehicle lacked a power sunroof, its an available option.

But: The near $40,000 price tag will cause most shoppers to think twice, before signing the dotted line. For comparison sake, the Honda’s Civic Type R has a starting price of $34,795, which is approximately $2,000 lower than the Focus RS. Ironically, the Honda is based off a front wheel drive configuration and it produces only 306-horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque.

Further, being that there is no automatic transmission available in the Focus RS, many folks will have to forego this high-performance compact. Moreover, don’t expect a forward collision automatic braking system or an automatic electronic blind spot mirrors in this compact. They’re just not available on this high performance hatchback. However, we must note the compact does come with standard blindspot integrated mirrors.

Also it takes a moment to get comfortable into the sunk-in Recaro sports seats. We must also note that the snug front seats might not be suitable for all body types.

Lastly, we wish Ford would take interior cues from General Motors, providing a more premium like interior in terms of offering more soft touch materials and less hard plastic for the center armrest, instrument panel layout and the door trims.

Verdict: For enthusiasts who are seeking some thrills in their daily commute, Ford has answered the call. In fact, they have done this in their European designed hatchback. With compact car sales slipping, Ford along with a few other automakers has added niche vehicle to their portfolio to capture car buyers looking for performance, styling and utility in the growing hatchback segment. The Focus RS is like the hatchback version of a Mustang GT. This car will not disappoint you.

Competition: 2017 VW Golf R and 2018 Honda Civic Type R

Sedan Competition: 2017 Subaru WRX

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