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Ford Focus RS500 Specs Suspension Rebates Price Color Pictures Videos and Review

Monday, March 21, 2011

Limited edition Ford Focus RS500 hot hatch leads the way when it comes to fun. But there's no getting around the fact that £35,450 is a lot of money to spend on a Ford Focus.

Ford Focus RS500 review
 
And we can't escape that the audience for a car with matt black paint, ultra low profile tyres, tinted windows and an enormous rear wing is somewhat limited.
Perhaps that's why Ford has only built 500 of these aggressive looking RS500 special edition models to supply to European markets.
The excuse, it says, is little more than a last hurrah for the current generation of RS Focus, a hot hatch regarded by many as the best in the business. Well, this one's even better.
The changes are more than skin deep, although it's the stealth paint job - the result of a "foil" finish applied by 3M - that is likely to cause the biggest stir with passers-by.
From behind the wheel, though, RS500 owners will be more concerned with the extra grunt Ford has teased out of the five-cylinder turbocharged engine. This comes courtesy of a bigger intercooler, uprated fuel pump, new air box and a larger diameter downpipe for the exhaust.
Combined with some tweaking of the engine's ECU control unit the result is a 45bhp increase in power to 345bhp, along with a rise in torque from 325lb ft to 339lb ft.
For reference, that's the same number of ponies that you get from a Porsche 911, and significantly more torque. Maybe that £35,000 price tag isn't so steep after all.
That's pretty much it as far as changes go, save for some red stitching for the seats and a numbered plaque mounted in front of the gearlever (on our pre-production car it reads "PR001", a clue that all 500 official production models will go to paying customers).
The driving experience, as you might expect, is Focus RS with the volume turned up to 11. Under full power you will be dragged down the road at some pretty uncomfortable speeds, accompanied by the kind of off-beat warble that only a five-cylinder engine can manage.
That all this comes from a model whose origins lie in a humble family hatchback is hard to fathom at times.
In other moments, however, the RS500's modest roots shine through. It is, for 99 per cent of the time, just as easy to drive as a 1.6 Zetec, with a light clutch, smooth gearchange and ample low down torque. If you always stayed below 3,000rpm you need never know that this car was capable of such extraordinary speeds.
Only the restricted steering lock, low ride height and a set of black wheels that you just know you will rub up against a kerb serve as impracticalities, and are soon forgotten when you realise how much grip they endow the RS500 with.
Stretch the engine to its 6,500rpm red line and it's hard to think of any car that could keep up, especially when it comes to powering through corners.
It's still amazing that Ford can channel the 300bhp of a normal Focus RS through only the front wheels - that it has managed to add another 45bhp to that tally and the formula still works is testament to the technology employed in the Quaife-developed limited slip differential and "RevoKnuckle" suspension.
Yes, there's torque steer under full power on bumpy roads but such feedback is all part of the experience. The RS500 is a car that you need to manhandle to get the best from.
With no specific changes made to the suspension setup this Focus maintains the surprisingly compliant ride of the standard RS, not to mention its tenacious traction and mid-corner throttle adjustability.
The steering is just as well weighted, the throttle just as heavy (it need a deliberate prod to rouse the turbo into life, as if it's checking that you're ready for the accelerative onslaught) and the brakes, now wearing red callipers, just as powerful.
There was a danger that by building the RS500 Ford was taking the formula a step too far. It was hard to imagine that anybody could want more power from a three-door hatchback, nor that they would be willing to pay a £10,000 premium for the privilege.
Yet before anybody had even driven the car Ford had sold all 500, adding to the 11,000 Focus RS buyers have snapped up to date.
You get the impression it could have charged £50,000 and people still would have bought it.
Whatever the price, and no matter how you feel about big alloy wheels, silly rear wings and attention grabbing paint, there's no escaping the truth: this car is right up there with the finest hot hatches of all time.
 
THE FACTS
Ford Focus RS500
Price/on sale: £35,450/already sold out
Engine/transmission: 2,522cc five-cylinder turbocharged/six-speed manual transmission. Front-wheel drive
Power/torque: 345bhp @ 6,000rpm/339lb ft @ 2,500-4,500rpm
Top speed: 165mph
Acceleration: 0-62mph in 5.6sec
Fuel economy: 21.0 (Urban)
CO2 emissions: 225g/km
VED band: L (£750 first year)
Verdict: Sublime to drive, questionable to look at.
Telegraph rating: Five out of five

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