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Week at the Wheel: Ford Focus RS500. Image by Max Earey.

Week at the Wheel: Ford Focus RS500
We say goodbye to what is possibly the last petrol-only super-fast Ford hot hatch, the Focus RS500.

 



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| Week at the Wheel | Ford Focus RS500 |

Inside & Out: star star star star star

The amount of attention that our Focus RS500 test car drew during our time with it is testament to the fact that it's something special. It's pretty much identical to the standard Focus RS on the outside, but with two striking exceptions: a matt black 'foil' finish and 19-inch, multi-spoke alloy wheels. Throw in an RS badge, just so the punters are in no doubt as to what it is, and you have one of the most attention grabbing hatchbacks around.

Inside, it's a typical Focus - well built, well laid out and easy to use. There's just enough theatre about the cabin to jazz it up - an RS badge emblazoned on the bottom of the steering wheel, turbo boost gauges in the centre of the dash and a carbon fibre-look centre console. Each RS500 comes with a small plaque on the bottom of the centre console too, indicating which one out of the 500 models built it is.

The only let down is the section of grey plastic that lines the lower part of the cabin. It looks out of place and a little pedestrian on the RS500. Be thankful that we in the UK get black upholstery on the seats rather than the stark red leather that European-spec cars have on the front seats only.

Engine & Transmission: star star star star star

This is probably the last time that we'll see the well-heeled 2.5-litre turbocharged five-cylinder engine in a new Ford, but what a way to go. There's 345bhp and 339lb.ft of torque, which is really pushing the boundaries for a front-wheel drive car. That translates to 0-62mph in 5.6 seconds, 0-100mph in 12.2 and a top speed of 165mph.

It is tremendously fast. There's so much grunt available in any gear, but it's the noise that's the most intoxicating thing - accelerate with any kind of gusto and the engine emits an incredible, guttural bellow that forces you to hang onto each gear just a little longer and blip the throttle on each down change.

The six-speed manual gearbox has a short, crisp and precise throw. It's significantly sharper than that of the standard Focus and suits the RS500 well.

Ride & Handling: star star star star star

Again, the Ford excels in this department. The standard Focus is widely regarded as the best of the mid-sized hatchbacks to drive and, with the RS500 treatment, it's awe-inspiring. The Quaife differential and RevoKnuckle suspension system work to minimise torque steer, which powerful front-wheel drive hatchbacks are so renowned (particularly the MkI Focus RS of 2002) and they do a top job. Torque steer isn't non-existent under hard acceleration, but for such a powerful car, it's well maintained.

There's a tremendous amount of grip, so it's possible to take corners at obscene speeds. The Focus doesn't nanny you with driving aids, though. It's still possible to have fun and get the wheels to loosen their grip even with the ESP active. The ride is quite firm, but what do you expect from such a hardcore hatch?

Equipment, Economy & Value for Money: star star star star star

All of the 101 RS500s destined for the UK have now been sold, so don't get your hopes up. If any remained in showrooms, they would be wearing a 35,500 price tag - that's a 10,505 premium over the standard RS, which has just ceased production.

Yes, that's pricey, while 28.5mpg (less when you drive it 'properly') and 235g/km mean it isn't particularly cheap to run wither. You won't want for anything much inside though, as climate control, leather seats, automatic headlights and wipers and plenty more goodies are all included.

Overall: star star star star star

The Focus RS500 is a truly astounding hot hatch and a thoroughly worthy successor to the Escort and Sierra Cosworths that came before it. It's expensive, loud, brutally fast and as un-politically correct as a hatchback can be, which is why we love it.

It's now no secret that Ford has a next generation Focus RS in development, which is likely to be powered by a 2.0-litre EcoBoost engine backed up by an electric motor in the back, rendering it a hybrid. It could be great, but the RS500 is a last hurrah for petrol-only hyper hatchbacks from Ford. No doubt it will go down in history with the same legendary status as fast Fords of old.

Words: Jack Carfrae. Photography: Max Earey - 7 Aug 2010









  www.ford.co.uk    - Ford road tests
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2010 Ford Focus RS500 specifications:
Price: 35,450 on-the-road (sold out)
0-62mph: 5.6 seconds
Top speed: 165mph
Kerb weight: 1468kg

Full technical specifications

2010 Ford Focus RS500. Image by Max Earey.2010 Ford Focus RS500. Image by Max Earey.2010 Ford Focus RS500. Image by Max Earey.2010 Ford Focus RS500. Image by Max Earey.2010 Ford Focus RS500. Image by Max Earey.

2010 Ford Focus RS500. Image by Max Earey.2010 Ford Focus RS500. Image by Max Earey.2010 Ford Focus RS500. Image by Max Earey.2010 Ford Focus RS500. Image by Max Earey.2010 Ford Focus RS500. Image by Max Earey.



2010 Ford Focus RS500. Image by Max Earey.
 

2010 Ford Focus RS500. Image by Max Earey.
 

2010 Ford Focus RS500. Image by Max Earey.
 

2010 Ford Focus RS500. Image by Max Earey.
 

2010 Ford Focus RS500. Image by Max Earey.
 

2010 Ford Focus RS500. Image by Max Earey.
 

2010 Ford Focus RS500. Image by Max Earey.
 

2010 Ford Focus RS500. Image by Max Earey.
 






 

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