By on March 29, 2010

Here’s some encouragement for the folks freaking out about BMW’s front wheel drive heresy. Ford has found a way to make 345 horsepower work in an FWD chassis, shattering the conventional wisdom that 250 hp marks the reasonable limit for front-drive performance. Well, at least until the 500 lucky owners of this limited-edition mega-hatch start adding up their tire bills in a few years. According to Ford, the RS500 should be looking at a 5.6 second 0-60 time and a top speed of 163 mph. And no, you can’t order one at your Ford dealer in the US.

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20 Comments on “Focus RS500: 345 HP, FWD And One Blurry Blue Oval...”

  • avatar

    And here all these years I thought 400HP and 550 ft-lbs of torques was the upper limit. Oh well, pretty soon I can get the Eldorado out and double check.


  • avatar

    It’s pretty easy to get Saab 9-5s up to 300, 320hp, and quite a few people do it. Whether or not it makes any sense is another matter… Of course, 9-5s are also 3400lb luxobarges, so they need a bit more grunt to get going in a hurry to begin with.

    • 0 avatar

      The 9-3 Viggen was also hopped up to this level, but that chassis was already a torque-steering bastard in my 9-3SE (210hp) and in a tuned Viggen it was, ah, problematic.

      Now, that said, GM also dumped the 5.3L V8 in the W-Body Grand Prix and it didn’t have much trouble at all. You can get away with a lot (or not) of power in a front-drive car if you’re smart about your steering and suspension geometry.

  • avatar

    Yeah, but you’ll never see this car in America. Besides, the current Chevrolet Cobalt SS does 0 to 60 in 5.2 seconds, and still gets over 35 highway mpg. That one you can get in the good old USA.

    • 0 avatar

      The Cobalt SS is actually pretty tame, torque-steer wise. It pushes a bit, but that’s easily sorted through some minor suspension tweaks.

      GM did a pretty good job on this chassis, and they’re not really given enough credit for it. I got a lot of seat time in an Ion Red Line and was pleasantly surprised at how capable it was—even the MazdaSpeed Protege tugged the wheel harder—and the turbo’ed Cobalt seemed even better.

    • 0 avatar

      Protege’s a poor example. I get torque steer even on my naturally aspirated Protege…

      And the Cobalt SS’s quoted 0-60 times are 5.5. It may go faster in real life, but then, the Focus RS500 may go faster, also… Note that a 0-62 time of 5.6 seconds is usually equal to a 0-60 time of 5.2 to 5.4, depending on where that 2nd-3rd upshift occurs. (This whole 0-60 / 0-62 thing is rather pointless because of that upshift, SAE corrections, traction control, tire compound, 5-foot roll-outs and US drag-strips)

  • avatar

    Have to love that Audi-esque 5 cylinder growl, one of the best auto noises out there.

  • avatar

    Pissssht, that’s weak. Only 345hp going to the wrong wheels?

    No way it’ll torque steer like an LS4-powered Impala SS with a hotter cam, aftermarket exhaust etc.

  • avatar

    “And no, you can’t order one at your Ford dealer in the US.”
    That’s a real shame. Chevy have their FWD SS cars and even Chrysler managed that stupid Caliber SRT… what cheap & fast FWD cars do Ford USA make? None.
    Ford have got a lot of expertise in Europe with regards to making FWD hot hatches but it seems that none of it will ever get across the Atlantic.

  • avatar

    Hot hatch!

    See, here’s a demand not being filled in North America, one that Toyota and Honda abandoned, and Ford has a product that fills that demand. Why wouldn’t they bring this over?

    GM seems to be moving quite a few of the Cobalt SS rockets; I’m certain that Ford could move lots of these (can you imagine the modding that would happen?). Of course, that’s why I’m an armchair Auto Company CEO.

    • 0 avatar

      See, here’s a demand not being filled in North America, one that Toyota and Honda abandoned

      Yes and no.

      Many European “hot hatches” are equipped with the same engine (and usually the same suspension) as the base model in North America, and go no faster than what we get here. The difference is that we don’t get the total dogs the Europeans get (eg, the 1.1L, 80hp variants that manage 0-60 eventually).

      The Focus RS is a little different: it’s not really a “hot hatch”** as much as it’s a street-legal rally-car that’s priced accordingly (eg, Evo/STi territory). By comparison, Europe’s Civic Type-R has the same engine a less sophisticated suspension than our Civic Si.

      ** where a hot-hatch is at least somewhat affordable.

  • avatar

    Beat me to it Silvy. 345 HP and only capable of mustering 0-60 in 5.6 seconds? That seems awefully slow. But, since we won’t see it here, why worry about it? I’ll just keep enjoying my Cobalt SS…

    • 0 avatar

      A lot of that is likely due to a combination of all-wheel drive’s launch penalty and an engine that makes power up high.

      You’d probably see the RS do better from a rolling start and certainly once you’re already at a good clip. 0-60 is not exactly a rally-car’s forté.

    • 0 avatar

      It’s FWD, but yeah everything I’ve read has talked about mid-range and top-end power. A standing mile race would be more interesting.

    • 0 avatar

      For one, this car is FWD.

      Second, I don’t get this AWD launch penalty myth people talk about. In an example of AWD vs. 2WD in otherwise identical cars, the AWD car, driven correctly will always beat the other during the launch. The AWD will always be able to put down more power at first. Why do you think an STI and EVO can put down super-car like 0-60 times, and this Focus can’t.If an AWD car bogs down during the launch, it means the driver didn’t give it enough power.

  • avatar

    AWESOME engine note! I love it.

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