Have a think about it. Ford has a pretty enticing performance lineup, while Holden has nothing – which is basically crazy. The Mustang GT and EcoBoost pair has generated a huge amount of interest and the Fiesta ST and Focus ST and RS are widely regarded as legitimate fun machines. Last week EFTM had the chance to sample one of 500 Limited Edition Focus RS models. Chris Bowen reports.

A batch of 500 Focus RS Limited Edition models arrived late last year, but just exactly what does the term ‘limited edition’ give you over and above the model we already so adore. Quite a bit really, the list includes:

  • Quaife limited-slip front differential
  • Performance Wheel Pack including 19-inch forged alloy wheels with 235/35R19 Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tyres
  • Active City Stop (Autonomous Emergency Braking)
  • Recaro shell seats with exclusive Nitrous Blue leather application
  • Nitrous prestige paint
  • Rear hatch-mounted spoiler, mirror caps and roof finished in Absolute Black
  • Privacy glass

Quaife is a British manufacturer of drivetrain components, with a bent for meddling in four-wheel drive setups. The RS at its very core generates compelling handling characteristics because of the renowned Twinster AWD system. All the 500 unique RS models score a front Limited-Slip Differential (LSD) as standard. In short this creates a seamless transition of torque across the front axle when things get wild. In a car that includes a ‘Drift Mode’ the chances of things going from road to track are almost certain for most buyers, this is a deadest outlandish machine.

A Performance Wheel Pack brings hot looking forged alloy wheels, normally a $3,500 premium on regular Focus RS variants. The Michelin Pilot Cup Sport 2 tyres are so sticky they’re chosen by Ferrari for the 458 Speciale.

Interior wise I’m not the biggest fan of what Ford does in general. Cheap plastics and fairly bland designs never really solicit much interest from me. But for the inner boy racer, exclusive Recaro seats will certainly make you feel like you’re onboard one of the hotter hatches around. As will the Nitrous Blue splashes of colour around the cabin that join the outside paintwork.

As far as infotainment is concerned SYNC 3 is a tidy system that chucks in Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as standard. The 8.0-inch touchscreen is pretty decent for this category as well. But despite the seats and a few extra gauges I still very much felt like I was sitting in a regular Focus. The exterior gains a gloss-black-roof, side mirror caps and an enormous rear spoiler. The car certainly turns heads; I’ll give it that.

But it’s all about the drive with this kind of car, a true sports car rather than just a go-fast hatch. A 257kW 2.3-litre four-cylinder EcoBoost engine delivers a delightful and potentially furious amount of power. With 440Nm or up to 470Nm on overboost this is a genuine hellfire experience. For the purists a six-speed manual is the only transmission on offer and I guarantee it’s a sheer joy to use. It’s precise, sharp and a piece of p$%s to use, to put it bluntly. Better still there is nothing better than a genuine crack and pop from the exhaust when upshifting under a heavy right foot. Plus there is a launch control feature, the boxes just keep getting ticked.

The car will sprint to 100km/h in 4.7 seconds and sail north of 260km/h if you find a track and straight long enough. For a car with a sophisticated AWD system the RS is more than happy to wag the tail, even in the dry. Without having access to a track I of course couldn’t experience ‘Track Mode’ or the controversial ‘Drift Mode’. Nor could I make use of the firmer shock setting that’s activated via the end of the indicator stalk.

As a daily drive I can confirm the Ford Focus RS can be a tad punishing. But that’s to be expected, the ride is extremely firm and as a result will tramline all over the place as simple ruts and undulations act like magnets. But this car is made to do one thing, drive like it’s on fire and set a benchmark in the category. It does this in everyway possible.

The before on-roads price tag is $56,990, around a $6000 premium over the regular RS. But hey it’s magnificent, the best in category and now available in an exclusive club available to just 500 people. Also there’s no need to worry about pesky options, it is what it is. I award the Ford Focus RS Limited Edition The EFTM Distinction Rubber Stamp of Approval.