Beatlemania. If you follow cars at all, you know the Ford Focus RS rollout has been the automotive equivalent of Beatlemania. After years of "will-they-or-won't-they," the Blue Oval decided to bring the RS - Ford Europe's most prestigious performance nameplate - to America. We (along with seemingly every other gearhead in the country) could barely contain ourselves when it was unveiled at a big-budget spectacle in Cologne, Germany in February 2015. Ford was flooded with thousands of pre-orders before we - or anyone else - even knew what performance or even final price looked like. From there, things only got crazier. Production has started! The first shipment has landed! Wait, Ford can't keep up with demand and it's pushing orders back?! A $10K dealer markup?!
Every move the RS has made so far has commanded headlines, and with good reason. This isn't a million-dollar supercar, a $65K Dodge Hellcat or Shelby GT350, or even an almost-affordable exotic like the BMW M2 coupe. This is a pure driver's car with 350 horsepower, 350 pound-feet of torque in a sub-3,500 pound package, a cutting-edge all-wheel drive system, and a sweet six-speed manual transmission with a $35,000 base price. The fact that it's also a five-door Focus with enough room for the kids and groceries in back is just icing on the cake.
For the uninitiated, the best way to think of the RS's relationship to the Focus is like the dearly-departed Mitsubishi Evo X to the Lancer - namely that they share a body, an interior, and that's about it. Ford spent years developing the RS, and it brought in the big guns to do it. Ken Block, the Hoonigan himself, was instrumental in dialing-in the car, and spent much of its Cologne launch drifting one through the Ford plant. If you want to see what an RS can do when pushed to his limits (ahem, tuned to 600 horsepower), watch Gymkhana Nine; you won't be disappointed.
Of all the four-wheel drive hatches out there, he says it's the only one where "you can feel the car working for you." Driving it is "totally intuitive." The car is "amazing," and "a real standout." And most importantly, in his opinion, Ford's powertrain "is the only system that's working for the driver." No small praise from two of the most respected drivers in the world, let alone for a car that costs as much as a loaded Toyota Camry.
The Focus RS is a new dream car for the everyman; it's a world-class performance car that you can you can buy at your local Ford dealership. An imported exotic (it's built in Germany) that won't break the bank. A daily driver that you can vacuum, take the child seats out of, and go to the track, or to Cars and Coffee. Sure, there are some compromises that needed to be made along the way - there always are - but at the end of the day, the Focus RS is here, and it was well worth the wait.
The Focus RS is available in four colors: Shadow Black, Stealth Gray, Frozen White, and Nitrous Blue. That last color is a $695 option, but trust us, this is the RS's signature color. It looks fine in the other three, but this is the one to get. You aren't going to be mistaken for a run-of-the-mill Focus anyway, so you might as well go with the paint job that best highlights the sheer lunacy of the car.
Most of the front end is used to feed air to the engine and brakes, fenders are flared, the car is lowered and purposefully stanced over its 19-inch painted rally wheels, and an RS-badged wing, diffuser, and dual exhausts let people know what just passed them. You can't exactly call it pretty, but it all makes the RS look like the true standalone performance car it is, not just some trim level.
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