You have probably never heard of Tyrone Johnson, but the man’s a hero. American, and an engineer, he has worked for Ford for 31 years and is vehicle engineering manager responsible for the company’s performance models. It means that he’s the key man behind the new Focus RS.
For anyone with a £31k budget to spend on something life-enhancing, there are plenty of good cars to choose between, but none we’ve experienced recently that is more mood energising than this one. It’s petrolhead heaven, a stunning performer with remarkably civilised manners. What’s particularly impressive is that it’s an optional Jekyll or Hyde, capable of electrifying performance but also able to be docile for an urban amble.
The car has a modified version of the engine found in a non-V8 Ford Mustang: a turbocharged 2.3 litre, four-cylinder direct-injection petrol unit with a 345 bhp power output. That’s a mighty meaty punch, managed via a close-ratio six-speed manual gearbox. So it’s very quick. Foot to the floor at the traffic lights, and you could be doing 60 mph in well under five seconds.
Get the drift
Other weapons in the RS’s armoury are adaptive dampers in the suspension, and sports car Brembo braking. It also has a couple of aces in its pack that are not for road use, but to please owners who want to indulge in that well-heeled boy racer’s favourite pastime of track days.
‘Launch control’ lets you take off from a standing start like Lewis Hamilton on pole in a Grand Prix, and ‘drift mode’ lets you slide around a test track corner like a showing-off Stig. Both are strictly for the track, when the car is set in ultimate ‘Jekyll’ mode.
So where’s the snag with the Focus RS? There has to be one, and there is, although we’ve searched hard for one in the car itself and really can’t find it. The drawback is the waiting list. A car ordered today won’t be delivered until next year. Ford originally planned for sales of 4,000 Focus RSs in the UK, but with the allocation heading for sell-out before launch, that may be increased. Even so, getting hold of one may need very quick action. Just like the car.
Ford Focus RS: Stats Review
Model tested: Ford Focus RS
Top speed: 165 mph
0-62 mph: 4.7 secs
Economy: 36.7 mpg
CO2: 175 g/km