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Has the Ford RS division gone tame? Focus RS Mk2 vs Mk3

Ford Focus RS Mk2 v Mk3

Any manufacturer that uses the letters ‘RS’  for their top-of-the-range derivatives usually wants to showcase what they can really do when pushed to the limit, they have a wild side that they just can’t contain. Ford is one of these brands and obviously I’m talking about the Focus RS Mk3; but this is not the first RS Ford has built, so l got to drive the mk2 to answer the question; “Has the Ford RS division gone tame or crazier?

Ford Focus RS Mk2

The old.

The mk2 RS has a 2.5-litre 224 kW engine putting out 440 N.m of torque. Now that doesn’t sound like a lot but considering the times when it was produced, back in 2009, this was almost impossible, especially considering that all this power was sent through to the front wheels. Ford did an outstanding job trying to control the power using a limited slip differential, a crucial piece needed to reign the Focus in. Ford’s WRC team also developed something called the RevoKnuckle to further help the power to channel smoothly through the front suspension. Even today, the car feels extremely alive and raw, like a lion eating its prey uncooked, unrefined, however, even with all these elements you feel very much in control, but you get the sense that the car was made to make you feel like a mad man, your steering wheel is your shield and the gear lever is your ‘Knobkerrie’.

Ford Focus RS Mk2

2008 New Ford Focus RS. (12/12/08)

With no driver modes, this car is only controlled by your right foot and boy is it such a thrill, the noise from the 5 cylinder engine under hood is just fantastic, I couldn’t get enough. Added to this noise is the flames thrown by the exhaust system as it backfires, one may think they have landed up in a war zone from the noise!

How does this car differ from the new?

The driving experience in the new car has undergone much improvement. Much more forgiving, and with the driving modes being introduced in the new RS, as well as the 4-wheel-drive system, it creates a safer handling feel to the car. The 4-cylinder engine is extremely powerful and it’s moving on with the times. Smaller engines are used nowadays and packed with power and in the new RS with 257 kW and 440 N.m is kicked out and still has an overboost function. Off the line, the new RS has launch control which can get the car to 100km/h in 4.7 seconds- 1.2 seconds quicker than the older mk2. The new RS feels more grown up and refined than the old one, but for me that’s where the problem lies.

New Ford Focus RS

You see, the new RS is now made to be a full on production car; it’s made to sell in various countries so it really needed to be able to be appealing in America and Australia and other places, so they held themselves back on going all out. It’s evident even in the sales of the cars, the old RS can still sell in the R500 000 region yet the current RS (even though it was released last year at R699 900) can be found  selling second hand  in the R500 000 region as well. The old RS is loud, boisterous and unique, it really didn’t care who bought it or if the seats broke your back or even if it couldn’t settle down, even when you’re just going to go buy bread and milk, it just wants to race there I think Ford played it safe, because even the styling of the mk2 RS is so undomesticated compared to the new one.

New Ford Focus RS

So to answer the question I posed in the beginning, I feel the RS division at Ford has gone tame. They put more into being able to sell the car to get get global appeal and left out the great bit that make Ford RS cars so special,  they followed a standard on this one. They forgot that the people that will buy this car don’t care that the seats break their backs, they know what to expect because the RS badge puts you into that loony frame of mind. In short then: the new RS is a better car, but the old RS though, that is a better RS…

Siya Manzini

Junior Writer

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