With the new Focus RS hitting dealers and being delivered, a lot of us have been dying to know what it’s like to drive on an autocross course. Navid Kahangi, a well known autocrosser in the Bay Area actually bought this Nitrous Blue beauty broke it in properly, and then took it out on course. The following is from his post in the NorCal Ford RS Facebook Group back in July 2016:
“I think this is the only RS in the country which has seen 3 days of competition already. So, I have a little bit of data that may be helpful to the rest of you. It’s a bit lengthy, but I figured I’d give you all the info and let you sift through it.
I’ve had this car for 19 days now. First weekend was the break-in weekend. Took the car down to LA and back. Varied the speed constantly on the way down and up for the break-in. The ride, even with the normal setting on the shocks, is a bit bouncy. It gets much worse with shocks in sport mode. However, it’s tolerable for most of us.
Noticed the car would not boost over 15psi, but there is so much power, you don’t really feel it if you haven’t driven the car under normal boost. After the break-in period was over, the boost increased to 22ish.
Sync3 is easy to use and works nicely. I could control Spotify on my iPhone on the touch screen.
Next weekend was the SCCA autox at Marina. Temps were in 60’s. The Michs are horrible autox tires. I did my first run in track mode which turns off the traction control and puts the shocks in sport mode. Car was super pushy in tight corners, but transitioned well in the slaloms.
Put the car in drift mode for the remainder of my runs. The drift mode turns off the sport shock setting, but you can turn them to sport mode manually. The car now rotates under power. Still pushed at turn-in.
The real test came this weekend at Crows Landing under really hot weather conditions and grippy concrete. Before the event, the car was aligned by my buddy, Scott Fraser, who is a wizard at aligning autox cars. The factory alignment was a little uneven in the rear toe and had a toe-in at the front. We evened the rear at zero and went from toe-in to just a little toe-out in front. We also increased the front camber to 1.5. That’s not maxed. We just adjusted it at the bottom. We can get more if needed. There’s more adjustability at the top, but you have to remove lots of panels to get to it. We will do that in the future if needed.
Not ready to give up on the track mode, I tried my first 2 run on Sat in track mode. Turn-in was much improved by the alignment. Course was fast and flowing. 3rd gear in 2 places on the course. The crappy tires are not as bad in faster parts, but sucked majorly in the tight stuff. Car pushed badly coming out of tight corners. Time to go to drift mode.
The temps where around 100 and I had the car running the whole time with the AC on at the grid. I would turn the hvac completely off before each run. The water temp stayed dead center and the oil temp would cross center a bit after each run, but come back to the middle after idling for a while.
As I was sitting in grid waiting for my 3rd run, I see a display pop up in the dash saying “driver mode not selectable”. The car now goes back to normal mode, changing the mode, the shocks and traction control back to normal. Huh? I thought that was odd. Turned the car off. Turned it back on and set the mode to drift and put the shocks to sport. Everything looks good.
I start my 3rd run. Car feel good and rotates under power in the first 2 corners. Not so much after that. Power was cut a bit coming out of the next corner and there’s hot air blowing at my feet now! When I finished the course, I noticed the mode was normal again and the heater was on full blast with the AC light on!!!
I immediately suspected user error. Did I hit one of the hvac buttons when I shifted to 3rd? Did I turned the car off and on before I left grid and change the mode to normal?
On my last run on Sat, I made sure everything was set correctly and made sure I didn’t come close to touching the hvac buttons during my run. Same results. After my run, I noticed the information icon was on in the dash. Went to the info center and looked at the message. “Drive mode not selectable”.
Thought about this a bit Sat night. The users manual has multiple mentions of the awd being disabled because of the rear diff heating up under harsh conditions. But the error they refer to never popped up on the screen.
I decided to cool the car down between my runs on Sun. No idling in grid, no AC on, water down the rear diff, intercooler, radiator and intake manifold between runs. Sunday conditions were exactly the same as Sat. 99 degrees on the display. No issues what so ever on Sunday. The drift mode worked nicely. Car rotates and even goes loose on the exit, but completely manageable.
The launch mode is glorious and works well if you have lots of time once you get to the line. It’s a pain in the ass in real drag race or prosolo situation where you have limited time after you stage.
The car has to be stationary (staged) and the clutch all the way in for the TC mode to be turned on. The problem is, you have to go 3 levels deep in the menu to turn it on. You can cheat and go into the submenus before you go to the line, but you have 10 sec before it times out and pop you back out. Royal PITA!
As you can see in the picture, it is lifting the inside rear tire off the ground, even with the crappy tires. That could contribute to the rear diff heating up, not to mention the hit on traction coming out of the corner. A bigger front sway bar is needed.
I’ll report more when I get some RE-71R’s on the car.
Disclaimer: I still have a big cast on my right foot and can’t modulate the pedals at all. You may have a different experience with the car’s handling.”
So there you have it, good in some areas, and great in others. Is it perfect? Definitely not, but hey it definitely is a cool street car worthy of consideration.