Originally RS meant Rallye Sport, a series of badges on some tweaked 1960s German saloons. Ford's first real RS model was the 1970 Escort AVO RS1600 twin cam, assembled at the company's former skunkworks at Averley in East London (hence the AVO moniker). These rally specials were built, as former Ford PR supremo Walter Hayes used to say, "to win on Sunday and sell on Monday." As road cars they were sensational, if fragile and cripplingly expensive to run. The RS was mainly a European rallying thing, particularly in Britain where the badge has huge cachet and prized RS models change hands for many times their original price. While RS models might have been expensive Fords, there were cheap compared to the exotica they could run rings round. Blue-collar supercars, they called them like a Mustang, but much smaller and much more capable on Europe's twisty roads. Ford Motorsport's direct link with the RS badge lasted until 1992 and the mighty Cosworth Escort RS (also the last all-wheel drive RS model). After that Ford's marketing department took over the RS badge, but it wasn't all bad. Since then RS has become an important auto-da-fé for Ford's production engineers whether it's on the rump of a Fiesta or a Focus. Each of the previous two Focus RS models have been the acme of the possible in a small hatchback. This 2016 Focus is no different, although its searing turbo power requires all-wheel drive, just like the old Escort Cosworth. If you drift it every day, the systems remember and politely ask you to change the differential lubricant at shorter intervals. Thanks to a platform formerly shared by Volvo and Ford's Escape, the Focus RS has room for a propeller shaft down the middle of the car and a rear subframe that can support a drive unit. Similarly to Audi's Sport Differential and Acura's SH-AWD, the Focus RS has a clever rear axle/drive unit (made by GKN), which rotates the rear driveshafts 1.8 percent faster than the road speed, but controls that speed via two multi-plate clutches (one for each wheel) that can individually close to distribute power side to side. Incidentally, that torque-vectoring diff is what makes the Focus RS' "drift mode" possible. There are four driver modes: Normal, Sport, Track, and Drift. Each successively hardens the responses of the steering, throttle, damping, all-wheel-drive system, stability control, and exhaust noise. Drift softens the steering and damping, but drives the outside rear wheel harder to unsettle the tail and enable you to emulate a Ken Block gymkhana for 30 minutes until the tires burst or the heat build-up in the clutches causes the system to shut you down. And if you drift it every day, the systems remember and politely ask you to change the differential lubricant at shorter intervals. All RS models with the exception of the 1988-1990 Sierra RS Cosworth sedans have been two-door shells, but this car is a standard five-door Focus body sold worldwide. It's strengthened to suit …
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|MPG||19 City / 25 Hwy|
|Transmission||6-spd man w/OD|
|Power||350 @ 6000 rpm|
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