Finding the Focus RS's Limits at Ford's Free Driving School
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Finding the Focus RS's Limits at Ford's Free Driving School

This is a discussion on Finding the Focus RS's Limits at Ford's Free Driving School within the News forums, part of the Site News category; BY CHRIS PERKINS MAY 2, 2017 Ford includes one day of free driving instruction with each new Focus RS. We went to RS Adrenaline Academy ...

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Thread: Finding the Focus RS's Limits at Ford's Free Driving School

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    Finding the Focus RS's Limits at Ford's Free Driving School

    BY CHRIS PERKINS
    MAY 2, 2017



    Ford includes one day of free driving instruction with each new Focus RS. We went to RS Adrenaline Academy to learn the limits of the Drift Mode hot-hatch.

    The Ford Focus RS gives you all the tools you need to become a better track driver. It's quick enough to be entertaining without being dangerous, and its clever all-wheel drive system doesn't leave you in understeer purgatory just for traction's sake. Ford also throws in something with each new Focus RS designed to help every driver get the most out of their car—RS Adrenaline Academy.

    It's not publicized as much as, say, the Focus RS's Drift Mode, but Ford offers a one-day performance driving school free with every $36,000 hatch. The RS Adrenaline Academy is held at the Ford Performance Racing School at Utah Motorsports Campus—formerly Miller Motorsports Park—just outside Salt Lake City. Ford invited us down to check out a condensed version of the program–and being the trackday novice in the R&T crew, I volunteered to attend.

    The day consists of three sections—a road course, an "urban" autocross, and, naturally, a drift circle. My group started on the road course, specifically Utah Motorsports Campus' medium-speed 15-turn east course. It's a challenging little circuit for an amateur, with some fast sweepers, tight hairpins, and an especially tricky segment of downhill esses.

    Behind the wheel of the Focus RS, you end up spending most time in second, third and fourth gear. In fact, thanks to the RS's nice low-end torque, third is fine for even the slowest corners, but that's not the quickest (or most exciting) way around.

    The instructors had us start off with lead-follow laps, two students per instructor, each driving a brand-new Focus RS provided by the school. Quickly, we got up to speed, and the instructor increased the pace right up to where I felt comfortable.

    It didn't take long to get used to the RS—credit its linear power delivery, and its very approachable handling limits. When you're driving, you know the RS's clever all-wheel drive system is always there, helping you put power down, compensating for your sloppiness, never feeling intrusive. I'd stop short of saying this all-wheel drive system is magic—it doesn't make the RS feel like it's rear-wheel drive—but it feels noticeably sharper than many other AWD performance cars.

    After the lead-follow session, I got the chance to do a few solo laps, after which an instructor hopped in the passenger seat to provide one-on-one coaching. I thought I was doing pretty well up to this point, but the instructor quickly informed me that, yes, you can use all of the track, and no, you don't need to avoid the curbing. Unfortunately, due to the condensed schedule, my time with the instructor was brief, but owners who attend the program will likely receive more individual coaching.

    After our time on the road course, we headed over to a wet skidpad where we'd be able to try out the RS's most talked about feature, Drift Mode. With five drivers in the group and only one allowed on the skidpad at a time, we were limited to just a few minutes of tail-out shenanigans. Still, I managed to sort of get the hang of Drift Mode by the end of the section.

    This mode configures the drivetrain to send a majority of power to the outside rear wheel, helping you hold long, lurid slides. You initiate the drift like you would with any rear-drive car—crank the wheel and stab the throttle—maintaining it with small steering inputs and aggressive throttle. The RS doesn't automatically turn you into a drifting god, but it does use its clever tech to turn this all-wheel-drive hatch into a genuine oversteer machine.

    After Drift Mode, Ford took us over to what it calls an "Urban Autocross," which is like a normal autocross, but with more graffiti-tagged shipping containers to hit. Before letting us loose on the full course, the instructors had us run a figure-eight section to get used to staying within cones, and to try out the RS's launch control.

    On the autocross course, we had a couple of practice runs before a timed lap at the end. This brought out my competitive spirit, which of course led me to overcook it in a few spots and ruin my time. Still, the RS felt impressively nimble here, even if my time didn't highlight it.

    Ford designs this school as a way to show off the breadth of capabilities the RS offers. The car felt equally at home in each high-performance driving setting presented here. That makes it a great tool for those looking to take their driving skills to the next level.

    The Focus RS isn't going to automatically turn you into the driving hero you don't deserve to be, but it makes it very easy to improve. It uncovers your shortcomings, but doesn't punish you for them. The fact that Ford offers RS buyers the chance to learn their cars' capabilities without risking their brand-new sheetmetal is a hell of a bonus. For the price of a quick trip to Salt Lake City, we think it's well worth it.


    Finding the Focus RS?s Limits at Ford?s Free Driving School
    Last edited by Hoonigan; 05-03-2017 at 04:13 AM.
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    Sounds like he didn't get the hot laps with an instructor driving which to me was the most eye-opening part of the day regarding the RS' potential. Cowboy Kyle was whooping and hollering as he hustled the RS around the track at speeds I couldn't imagine, and man he kept that thing PLANTED! Tires whining all the time but not shrieking. 4th gear through the S-section! Yeeeehah!!!!

    I realized I have so much more car to grow into than I thought.

    Jim
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    I'd love to to do this, but it's been fully booked and closed for the entire season every time I check. Do,we know we'd they might open it up for registrations for 18?
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    Quote Originally Posted by DeltaT View Post
    Sounds like he didn't get the hot laps with an instructor driving which to me was the most eye-opening part of the day regarding the RS' potential. Cowboy Kyle was whooping and hollering as he hustled the RS around the track at speeds I couldn't imagine, and man he kept that thing PLANTED! Tires whining all the time but not shrieking. 4th gear through the S-section! Yeeeehah!!!!

    I realized I have so much more car to grow into than I thought.

    Jim
    I agree. One of the highlights of the day was riding along as the instructor drove. Wow!
    GoodbyeGolfR and DeltaT like this.

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    Me too - was amazing sitting in the passenger seat amazed how much more speed they carry through the corners - my wife came as a guest and she had a ball. Did day 2 with the Mustang GT which was great contrast. Mustang was fun , lots of torque, great brakes - but more floaty and not as confident through the corners as the RS. Actually confirmed for me I got the right car.
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