Here is episode 7 in the Ford documentary on the development of the Focus RS. We really like what’s happening here. This was supposed to be the final sign-off before production, meaning everything is “right”. Except that our favorite person in Ford – Raj Nair – does not feel so and will not signoff for production due to several areas that need further work.
And he’s exactly right.
We’ll add our own personal experience here: we’ve had so many performance Fords that were severely lacking in one crucial area or another, where the brilliance of the car and/or engine was dampened or ruined by problems. Examples:
- ’89 SHO: brilliant Yamaha engine, but terrible shifter and gadawful quality
- ’96 Cobra: brilliant new engine – but over-heated everywhere, even in traffic
- ’03 Cobra: excellent IRS but extremely poorly developed engine with awful tuning issues from the factory – and it finally blew up
- ’13 Boss: great motor let down by poor brakes and the crappy solid rear axle
Raj Nair is exactly what was needed all along in Ford product development. He doesn’t accept any issues – even minor ones like the ones he finds here. The “RS” brand has always been about excellence; it’s one of Ford’s most important brands and it has to be right. Which, from what we know so far, is indeed the case with the new 2016 Focus RS. With, most unfortunately, the exception of the seats. North American models don’t get the optional shell-type Recaros from Europe (they are incompatible with the required side air bags) so we are stuck with the Focus ST Recaro seats. Which are so confining as to be unlivable in daily use. That leaves the RS off our list.
Lets look at the interior problem again:
Here’s the non-North American interior with the optional Recaro shell-type seats (different shape, fixed head restraint, no airbag):
And here’s the north American interior, with the Recaro seats borrowed from the Focus ST:
Note, too, the lack of the Recaro-styled rear seats. This is a design issue due to the different North American Federal head restraint issues, which requires the large head restraints. Those also block the view to the rear, and there is also a small restraint added for a middle passenger. If there is good news up front, it’s that there is the option of a power rack for the driver’s seat with tilt, and power lumber support. That might help make these otherwise unlivable seats a bit more useful. Ford saved some development dollars here by re-using the existing ST seats – that won’t require crash testing which is expensive for a limited run product like the RS. On the other hand, Ford used an entirely new (and much improved over the other Recaro design offered in the Mustang) Recaro seat for the Mustang GT350. That’s what is needed here and the money should have been spent in our opinion.