Ford Focus RS SoCal Owners Review


Staff Writer Kelly G. takes delivery of his new 2016 Ford Focus RS, and he gives us a first-hand account of his break-in secrets, and what it's like to drive the 165-mph hot hatch.

Ok, quick disclaimer before we get started. My brand new, Stealth Grey 2016 Ford Focus RS arrived this week, and I am having a blast breaking her in! I had originally not planned on doing a review until I was done with my break-in period. Because of all the requests and questions from fans about the new hot hatch, and the fact that my vehicle was one of the first to be delivered in California, I decided to do a sort of "first impression's" review. Even though I plan on putting the car though it's paces, keep in mind that this car is my personal daily driver and may not be subject to the same review as a test vehicle.

I have not even had the car for a full week yet, (I just went over 300 miles), and I can tell you that this car rocks! The car really IS that good. And this is coming from someone with a muscle car background. As a car enthusiast/driver, I have been lucky enough to drive a lot of different cars in my lifetime, and I have always preferred the big bad muscle cars. From Mustang's, to Camaro's, to even the Challenger SRT, I love the big V-8 N/A Engines. I'll be the first to admit that I lived by the quote, "There is no replacement for displacement" for a long time.

In fact, I don't think I have ever even owned a 4-cylinder car! But when I started doing my research last year for a new daily driver, I decided to start thinking outside the box. And boy, am I happy I did! There is just something about this RS that just FEELS right. Ford Performance has really created the perfect balance of fun, practicality, and power in this hot hatch. So let's take a closer look at what I have been doing with the car since I took delivery this week.

My Focus RS Engine Break-In

Ever since 2009, when the new Chevy Camaro made it's debut, I have followed a very specific "Hard Break-In" ritual with all my cars engines. Back then, when doing a little research, I found a write up from an engine builder at Reher Morrison Racing titled "The BEST Break-In for a New Car". It went over the importance of LOADING your engine as soon as you take delivery. After reading the whole article, I was hooked. I am now a true believer of running my car's engine hard for the first 500 miles in order to achieve proper ring seal for maximum performance. And No, I am not talking about abusing the engine, dropping the clutch at 4000 rpm, or bouncing off the redline repeatedly! I am talking about making 5-10 hard acceleration runs daily for the first 500 miles to load the engine. It is also important not to engine brake (aka down-shifting to a lower gear at speed) during the break-in period. Once I am up to the desired speed during the hard acceleration runs, I shift it into 6th gear to release the load and get back down to a drivable speed. You need to find a nice straight road or a long on-ramp/off-ramp to do this.

I will admit, when I first drove the RS off the lot, I could definitely tell the power difference between the RS and my 5.0! But after following my break-in procedure, the car really opened up at about the 100 -150 mile mark. In fact, the RS is a whole different beast now! The car just continues to pull through the power band, and I haven't noticed any turbo lag. I am simply blown away by the power that this car is putting out. It really feels like a much bigger engine. My break-in period looks something similar to this:

  • Car should be fully warmed up (about 10 minutes) before starting your hard runs.
  • 0-500 miles: Rolling start (5-10 mph) then Full Throttle going through the gears, shifting just below redline. I then shift into neutral or keep it in 6th gear in order to release the load and let the vehicle coast to a normal driving speed.
  • I Never, Ever, downshift (aka engine-break) during the break-in period for the first 500 miles!
  • I do about 5-10 hard runs a day and let it car cool down for a couple hours. Since this car is my daily driver, after the runs, I just drive it normally so I can get back to the rest of my day.
  • 500-750 miles: I do the vehicles first oil change.
  • 750-beyond: Break-in complete. Enjoy the car!

This specific break-in may not be for everyone, and I don't recommend going against whatever your manufactured recommended break-in is. This is just something I follow on my vehicles. It is also performed on a wide open, straight road, in an area with no traffic! Safety first, right!

So let's take a quick look at the RS 2.3L EcoBoost engine, and my thoughts so far.

Original article