Newspaper article The Queensland Times (Ipswich, Australia)

When the Need Is Raw Speed

Newspaper article The Queensland Times (Ipswich, Australia)

When the Need Is Raw Speed

Article excerpt

THE closest I've come to the World Rally Championships was at the Polana Hotel in Maputo more than 15 years ago.

We had completed an incredible six months travelling through the African bush, steering clear of cities when we could, choosing instead the romanticism of thatched villages and the night sky. The five-star Polana was a welcome oasis, a chance to wash off the dust and grab some rest in a real bed before setting off on the final leg home to South Africa.

We arrived with scratched knees, bedraggled backpacks and dirty hair just in time to see competitors in the WRC whizzing past to their overnight destination close by.

Later at dinner in the hotel restaurant it was obvious that we were seated among some decidedly sporty types but to be honest, I was so consumed by my queen prawns and peri-peri sauce that I barely recognised Tommi Makinen at the bar.

But the lure of the championship itself has always held a fascination. It's difficult not to give a nod of acknowledgement to a group of super-talented drivers showing off their prowess on surfaces ranging from gravel and tarmac to snow and ice in specially designed, well-honed machines.

Machines, it seems, that bear a close resemblance to the Ford Focus RS parked on my driveway last week.

Comfort

This beast is made for the driving experience, not to stretch out in. The whoosh and roar of the engine when you turn it on tells you so.

But saying that the Recaro seats are quite comfortable provided you can get over the side bolsters and ignore the lack of seat boost adjustment.

Headroom in the front is pretty generous, less so in the back where limbs have to work hard to find a comfortable spot.

While the outside of the RS is breathtaking the inside is less inspiring with plastics dulling the sporty look enhanced by colourful stitching and chunky steering wheel. The boot is surprisingly big and coupled with the 60/40 split fold rear seat makes light work of storage needs.

On the road

From conception, this second generation Focus RS has reached for perfection with designers stretching every sinew to deliver the most unforgettable hot hatch.

That takes a lot of genius, a lot of courage and a lot of well, madness. But perhaps that's exactly what you need to attempt running 224kW through just the front wheels.

Because Ford wanted every bit of that power to be usable they introduced the RevoKnuckle which is basically a new MacPherson strut design that gives you all the benefits of advanced multi-link systems without even more added expense. This is coupled with a Quaife LSD which does its bit to eliminate the dreaded torque steer and keep the car compliant. What this means is that this RS, unlike the Mk1, version will actually go where you point it and respond well to commands from the steering wheel. …

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