350PS And 470Nm From Ford Focus RS

350PS, or 345bhp in old money. That’s a lot of power for any road car but when it’s coming from a mid-sized five door hatchback its bordering on the obscene.

2016 Ford Focus RS (07)

2016 Ford Focus RS

It is, if you haven’t already guessed, the output of the 2.3 litre Ecoboost that propels the Ford Focus RS. Despite losing a cylinder and 200cc displacement the new engine pushes out the same grunt as the limited edition RS500 from 2010, backed up by 440Nm of torque (or 470Nm on overboost, which kicks in for 15 second bursts on full throttle).

No news on the 62mph time or terminal velocity, but suffice to say it’ll be bloody quick thanks to all-wheel drive.

Ford aren’t messing about. The RS’s only serious rivals in the hot hatch world are the Audi RS3 (367PS for £39k) or the AMG A45 (365PS for £38k), and my gut says the RS will be a better drive than both.

With the first public sighting at Goodwood this weekend, it looks like the famous RS badge continues to go from strength to strength.

2016 Ford Focus RS

Performance & Economy 2016 RS 2009 RS 2010 RS500
Engine 2.3-litre 4-cylinder turbocharged petrol 2.5-litre 5-cylinder turbocharged petrol 2.5-litre 5-cylinder turbocharged petrol
Transmission 6-speed manual, front-engined, all-wheel drive 6-speed manual, front-engined, front-wheel drive 6-speed manual, front-engined, front-wheel drive
Power (PS / bhp) 350 / 345 300 / 295 350 / 345
Torque (Nm / lb.ft) 440 / 324
(470 / 346 on overboost)
440 / 324 460 / 339
0 – 62 mph (seconds) 4.7 5.9 5.6
Top Speed (mph) 165 163 165
CO2 Emissions (g/km) TBA 225 235
VED Band TBA K L
Combined Economy (mpg) TBA 30.1 28.5
Price (OTR) £28,940 £27,925 £35,437

 

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Ford S-Max – Don’t Be ‘Sports Dad’

Purchasing a new Ford S-Max should be regarded as a textbook example of refusing to stand out from the crowd. While being one of the herd is traditionally frowned upon, actually in the case of the new S-Max it’s highly beneficial. Unless that is, you’re ‘Sports Dad’.

Ford S-Max Static 03

‘Sports Dad’ wants to be the best. He wants to the best so much, that he’ll pick the biggest engine with the highest bhp output on his new car just so everybody knows he is the man. Basically, ‘Sports Dad’ is the guy you avoid like the plague when you go and watch your own kids football team playing because he abuses the referee and generally makes a monumental tit of himself. Fear not reader, I’m here to show you how to get the best S-Max for you, all while getting a better S-Max than ‘Sports Dad’ and saving a bit of money in the process.

The guy we all love to hate has already chosen his S-Max, and naturally it’s the one that sits at the very top of the S-Max pyramid – the 2.3 236bhp litre petrol powerhouse. Ford expects only 1% of all S-Max buyers to take this one up, but that’s ok because ‘Sports Dad’ has always thought of himself as being in the top 1% anyway. For us though, let’s think of that 1% as those people who are so keen to distance themselves from the herd, so keen to look special, that they’d go as far as to shoot themselves in the foot in a bid to impress others around them.

Ford S-Max Driving 01

Yes, as tempting as it may sound on paper, the ‘sporty’ variant of the new S-Max is certainly not the high point of the range. It’s an engine that just doesn’t feel at home in this car, lacking the torque needed to launch the heavy S-Max, and despite that high-ish power output, in reality it doesn’t feel anywhere near as quick as the spec sheet might have you believe. The 6-speed automatic Ford has attached to it doesn’t help either, a pure cruiser unit that’s clearly not been designed to deliver on the excitement front, and to be fair why would it? ‘Sports Dad’ will tell you all about the flappy paddles, but I’ll tell you that it’s so lacking in shift feel you wonder why they even attached them to the steering wheel in the first place. Ford hasn’t offered a manual option with this engine, but even with that option box open I still think it would be a poor choice. Despite the disappointment with this particular powertrain, this is where the problems with the new S-Max end.

Ford S-Max Interior 04

 

Some drivers will naturally prefer some of the more conceptual design flair seen in some of France’s latest offerings, but it can’t be said that the S-Max isn’t a handsome looking beast. The strong, angular lines make this one of the best efforts at putting together an attractive people carrier that I can remember, it looks like a car with real class and that continues inside. From the moment you step in you can see and feel the improvements in the interior, with plenty of quality materials applied to make the cabin a genuinely pleasurable place to spend time. The seating is particularly excellent, providing a hugely comfortable and supportive place to park the posteriors of you and your family. The S-Max now feels more premium than ever before and – through these eyes at least – is a nose ahead of the interior environments found in some of its rivals.

Ford S-Max Interior 02

As it’s the modern age, the class and comfort of the interior would be nothing without decent technology to back it up, and there is some very tasty tech to examine. The SYNC2 system is a must have, and while the interface and arrangement of the software is good, the touchscreen it’s wrapped in can occasionally be unresponsive. Other useful features include split view cameras to assist in pulling out of parking spaces and junctions (not something obnoxious yet genetically superior ‘Sports Dads’ will ever feel the need to use), a variable ratio steering setup that Ford has even managed to squeeze the mechanism of inside the steering wheel, and a system to monitor road signs and adapt the speed limiter to match them, theoretically preventing you exceeding the speed limits. For those show offs who always have something new to stick in the garden, boot space starts at 700 litres in 5 seater mode, but the 2 seated van-like layout will bump that up to a cavernous 2000 litres, perfect for that gazebo hauling, faux-brick BBQ buying dad who always calls you ‘mate’.

Ford S-Max Interior 01

So, how do you stick it to ‘Sports Dad’? By knowing the following important information; those who love to drive will ultimately gain more pleasure from one of the more powerful diesel manual options than the petrol powered brute discussed earlier. The new S-Max is a brilliant cruiser, being both remarkably quiet and hugely comfortable and when driven as such it’s a joy, even if as the driver you do feel a little detached from what’s happening outside. With one of the more grunty diesel engines, the excellent manual gearbox, and ‘Titanium’ spec, you’ll have a truly excellent car on your hands. This might be about as good as a people carrier gets. Refined, comfortable, practical, and perhaps most crucially it’s actually quite desirable. It’s also cheaper to buy and will depreciate less than the flash git’s top spec model. That means when you lift lazy waves from the steering wheel of your S-Max outside the school gates, you get the satisfaction of knowing you’re in the better car.

So, who’s winning now ‘mate’?

2015 Ford Galaxy

Performance & Economy 2.0 TDCi Titanium X 2.0 EcoBoost Titanium X
Engine 1,997cc tubocharged diesel 1,999cc turbocharged petrol
Transmission 6-speed manual, front engine, front-wheel drive 6-speed automatic, front engine, front-wheel drive
Power (PS / bhp) 180 / 177 240 / 236
Torque (Nm / lb.ft) 400 / 295 345 / 254
0 – 62 mph (seconds) 9.5 8.3
Top Speed (mph) 131 140
CO2 Emissions (g/km) 129 180
VED Band D I
Combined Economy (mpg) 56 35
Price (OTR) £33,845 £35,205

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Ford Focus RS Promises Cheaper Thrills

There was no question that the 2016 Ford Focus RS was going to be quick. That was always a given. No, the question was always “how quick?”.

Now we know. With 350PS and 440Nm the turbocharged 2.3-litre Ecoboost propels the Focus to 62mph in just 4.7 seconds and on to a top speed of 165mph. That’s nearly a whole second faster than the previous fastest Focus, the RS500, and it’s a lot cheaper than that limited edition RS.

It’s hardly a surprise that this is the fastest accelerating RS model ever, that’s progress for you! What is a surprise is the price that Ford are asking for this level of performance – just £28,940.

In terms of thrills gained against hard-earned money spent there’s nothing that can touch it. It’s cheaper than a 300PS Golf R and makes the Leon Cupra, Megane Renaultsport and Astra VXR look under-endowed. What it emphatically does is stick two fingers up at the Audi RS3 and AMG A45, who tried to convince us that almost £40k was acceptable for a hot hatch. Jürgen Gagstatter, chief program engineer for Focus RS, puts it quite politely:

“The all-new Focus RS delivers stunning performance and innovative technology at a price that will make both our customers and premium automakers look twice. After experiencing the acceleration and cornering capability of the Focus RS, drivers will question the sense in spending almost £10,000 more on a premium competitor.”

So in other words, you’d have to be barking mad to spend another £10k on one of the German rivals. Unless you really, really want some of those pretty headlights.

2016 Ford Focus RS

Performance & Economy 2016 RS 2009 RS 2010 RS500
Engine 2.3-litre 4-cylinder turbocharged petrol 2.5-litre 5-cylinder turbocharged petrol 2.5-litre 5-cylinder turbocharged petrol
Transmission 6-speed manual, front-engined, all-wheel drive 6-speed manual, front-engined, front-wheel drive 6-speed manual, front-engined, front-wheel drive
Power (PS / bhp) 350 / 345 300 / 295 350 / 345
Torque (Nm / lb.ft) 440 / 324
(470 / 346 on overboost)
440 / 324 460 / 339
0 – 62 mph (seconds) 4.7 5.9 5.6
Top Speed (mph) 165 163 165
CO2 Emissions (g/km) TBA 225 235
VED Band TBA K L
Combined Economy (mpg) TBA 30.1 28.5
Price (OTR) £28,940 £27,925 £35,437

 

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Ford’s Mobility Challenge

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Let’s start with the most practical idea, the eChair. If you’ve ever been in a wheelchair or accompanied someone who uses one, you know that the world is not very accommodating. This is particularly true if the wheelchair user is alone and needs to use a car. The process of transferring out of the chair into the driver’s seat, then stowing the chair and perhaps crutches or a walker, can become a major hassle. The eChair pretty much eliminates all that fumbling around. Once a person is seated inside the vehicle, he or she can use a smartphone app or controls built into the car’s infotainment unit to tell the chair to drive itself to the trunk and automatically store itself. Three engineers from Ford’s Belgium proving grounds came up with eChair. It’s actually shocking something this logical hasn’t been invented already. It could make a lot of people’s lives much easier.

Another finalist is the TriCiti, which is literally just a folding electric tricycle that can also be used as a golf-bag cart or a shopping companion or to transport heavy items. The TriCiti, dreamed up by three vehicle-architecture employees from Ford of Europe, has a 19-mile range and a 12-mph top speed. This is not a bad idea, if you can imagine it could be built at low enough cost to make it something more than a toy for the Sharper Image catalog.

FordPass: A Day With Park And Pay | Innovation | Ford

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Stop circling the block. Find, reserve and pay for your parking before you even leave. Parking marked with a white flag is even reservable and you can pay for it right from the app.

The app is called FordPass, and after a quick registration of your email and address, you’ll be presented with a map screen not unlike what you find in Apple or Google map programs. Provided that you’ve allowed it to use your location, it will automatically show the area where you are and look for parking garages. Those garages will be displayed on the map, and perhaps most helpfully, each garage shows its price as well. Considering how expensive garages can be, being able to compare prices at a glance without driving in circles is wonderful. Plus, once you’ve found a place to park, the app will give you an option to get directions and it will automatically load the address into your preferred map app to guide you there.

In general, the app works quite well, though it isn’t completely perfect. It seems that you can only pay for reserved parking through the app, meaning you’ll still have to pay at the parking gate for normal garages. The app only shows parking in 160 cities so far, but more areas could be added in time. The app also only shows garage parking, and, though this may be a nitpick, doesn’t seem to show available street parking. Google developed a program that would show open street parking, but it was dependent on people submitting that information to the app for others to use. It would be fantastic to see a similar feature in a later iteration of FordPass.

Even with these very minor quibbles, the app is still very helpful for either the big city dweller or visitor for finding parking and avoiding high prices. So for that ability alone, it’s definitely worth the low, low price of nothing.

FordPass offers additional features for people dealing with a short supply of parking and want to claim a space ahead of time. Provided there are garages nearby that support the feature, it is possible to reserve a parking space using the app. We weren’t able to try this out as there don’t seem to be any garages that allow reserved spaces near our office. If you do find one, though, the app allows you to pay for the space, and it will store your billing info for future reservations.

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