Here's why fast Fords need all-wheel-driveWhen the latest Ford Focus RS came along with AWD, many people were excited to see a fast Ford that would spin all four wheels -- something we haven't seen since the Escort RS Cosworth in the '90s.
When the current Ford Focus RS was first revealed, there was a lot of hype and excitement about it. Much more so than the previous two generations. And there was one very simple reason for that. No, not Ken Block. It was because power was going to all four wheels. And that everybody brimming over with nostalgia [MUSIC] For this car. [MUSIC] What a beautiful scene. It's like a car magazine shoot from the 90s. All it needs is a tobacco filter. [SOUND] This is the famous Escort RS Cosworth. Can you believe it's 25 years since it first appeared on our roads? And this car. It's not just any car. This car belonged to SVE, or special vehicle engineering. It's still owned by Ford, and it's the only one in yellow. SVE apparently always used to do one car in a color that wasn't available on the standard production models. There are a few other bits in here as well, at least Recaro seats which are an upgrade even from the ones you find among the Monte Carlo special edition make. Brake a lot, so apologies for that. And of course, we've got this yellow wheel. Sadly, yellow doesn't actually match the exterior of the car as well, a sort of egg yolk yellow as opposed to the primrose yellow of the exterior. As well as the unique color and all the unusual parts, this car is interesting because it was used by S.V.E. to do some of the sign off work on the R.S. Caswell Under the bonnet you will find an early YBT engine, which means it has one of Garrett's big turbos. You can tell this because the engine is blue in color, whereas the later, smaller turbo cars are silver. But we're not done yet, here's something else you might not know. Here's one of those brilliantly useless nuggets of information that I absolutely love. [BLANK_AUDIO] Everybody knows that the Escort RS Cosworth was homologated for group A regulations. That's one of the things people love, they'd bang on about it all the time, why group A was better than group B, what it gave us. But it was also used for group N homologations, and the rules there, well they said you couldn't modify the steel body work At all [MUSIC] so what they did is they line it up here incredibly high, specifically for group end regulations so it can fit larger wheels. Once more it was most successful as a group end car anyway. So there you go, [SOUND] and there's still more. One other little curiosity of the [INAUDIBLE] is that all the early cars of the two and a half thousands done for the Greek [INAUDIBLE] came with a camping water bladder and some plate beneath the rear seats. So this completely confused people when it arrived at the dealerships and even the press office as well. But it was actually because they needed a water container For the intercooler in the rally car, so they had to supply it all two-and-a-half-thousand original cars. [BLANK_AUDIO] This road is the B660, and it might not be that glamorous, but it's a road that's been used for road-testing well [UNKNOWN] this car is a random, possibly before. So it's great fun to actually drive these cars. And I really do feel at home here. So what's the Escort RS [UNKNOWN] like today? It's still really good, actually. [UNKNOWN] of the car came with 227 great horse power. This car's actually had the stage one conversion. So it's up to 280 great horse power. You still, you have to really press this [UNKNOWN] all the way down. And that might sound like a very odd thing to say, but most modern cars, the throttle tends to be, it's [UNKNOWN] And get that response. [INAUDIBLE] as well. You got to flex your ankle a bit. [SOUND] Gear shift was empty 75 box. Perhaps longer a throw than You might expect these days but still, it's got a really nice engagement when it actually goes into gear. It loves to roll in the corners. You have to be patient as you go through. It's a delicious feeling carrying the speed into corners. Perhaps trading the brakes a little and then feeling the weight transition from front to rear through the car. Back wheel scribing a smooth arc into a smidgen of oversteer as the corner unwinds. Tiny little wheels on this, and honestly the balloon-like rubber, and quite old rubber at that means that It does move around very progressively in corners. There might be surprisingly little steering feel and the engine note certainly doesn't live up to the exuberance of the rear wing, although to be fair it would probably take a [INAUDIBLE] from V16 to do that. But the Escort RS Cosworth is thankfully still very entertaining to drive today. And there is absolutely no doubt that it remains an icon. So a quarter of a century on does the focus feel like it's worthy of following in the escorts tyre tracks. 25 years on and we seem to have lost a rear wing and gained a couple of doors. There's plenty that has actually stayed the same though. we've got a manual gear box, [SOUND] It's even got a manual hand brake which is a bit of a rarity these days. It's also got a turbo charged four cylinder engine where of course it's transverse now rather than long general. Just like the escort there are recaro seats in the focus to. Although these aren't the optional buckets I think these more everyday chairs are actually the ones to have. Just as in the escort though you still seem to sit quite high, The three dials on the dash complete with the boost gauge in the middle are nice reminders of the old car to But there are obviously differences as well. The multitude in this airbag speaks of a safety that the Escort can only dream of. And a USB wasn't even a glint in the eye of the Escort's CD player when it was new. So how has the driving experience changed? well, for starter, it's just much more instant. The throttle response is much more instant, the gear shift is shorter. Turns and corners is just so much more direct. The four wheel drive system of course in the Escort, is locked at 34-66 front to rear. In this, well, you get attitude from actually being on the throttle. That clever diff at the back with the clutch packs on either side of it vectors the torque around. It actually helps the car through the corner, you can really feel that working, of course now with much more power, so actually, you can put it to use in the corners as well. Under the bonnet, the engine has grown from 2 to 2.3 liters. It is now all aluminum, while the turbochargers are more sophisticated, twin scroll item, all of which goes some way to accounting for the improvements in performance figures. Got 60 and dropped by about a second and a half to 4.7 seconds. Our top speed increased by nearly 30 miles an hour to 165 flat out. All the things we can hear popping away. I've got this in [INAUDIBLE] mode, some people hate it. I love it, I can't deny it, call me a child. But [INAUDIBLE] mode it's like it's just brilliant. [SOUND] Reminds me of [UNKNOWN]. [LAUGH] Everybody talks about the drift mode in this car. Now, using drift mode on the road is not actually a very good idea. But, even just in [UNKNOWN] mode, you can still feel the rear balance to this car. You can steer it through on the throttle. It's nice when they adjust these rides. Just play through corners, which is really nice. So it feels very revised. What a fun car. Unlike the Escort, obviously this has adaptable suspension, which to be honest it might as well not, because the ferme which is suspension made is useless, to be perfectly honest. Even on a track. It just hops and skips around. The previous generations of Focus RS were very good, very enjoyable. But in the same way that you're supposed to get your height or your hair or your teeth, or something, I don't remember what. And your grandfather Skips a generation. This, this feels like the proper progeny of the Escort RS [INAUDIBLE]. The big question, the great unknowable, is how history will judge the Focus RS. It's never going to have to have the pedigree of the Escort, since it's not a homologation special. No matter how much chem block [UNKNOWN] the focus around rally car circuits or [UNKNOWN], it won't really sprinkle any extra [UNKNOWN] dust on the road car. But what we can judge is how the driving experience stacks up. Over the years, since the escort, we've got used to 4 wheel drive heroes like Subaru Imprezas, Mitsubishi Evos, or even laterally with [UNKNOWN] But even in light of those, the current focus RS still feels pretty special. And as the escort has shown today, a car that's really good to drive will always be desirable. [SOUND] [SOUND]