The Reality Check
0:00 - 0:58
1:00 - 4:10 Exterior Impressions
4:10 - 5:25 Tri-Industries - Vehicles for a Cause
5:25 - 7:00 In the Shoppe with Turbowski - Purpose of Review
7:00 - 11:50 Brakes, Suspension, Chassis and AWD
11:50 - 13:35 Exhaust, Wheels and Tires
13:35 - 15:49 Under the Hood
15:49 - 19:15 Track Drive and Impressions
19:15 - 25:16 Driving Impressions
25:29 - 30:35 Interior Impressions
30:35 - 31:30 Final Thoughts
After years of waiting, we finally get what the Euro enthusiasts have been throwing in our faces. The RS makes many promises but, will all of that translate into smiles? The platform is a C segment Focus, an old one at that, nearing the end of the life-cycle. Those who already own it and have been waiting for it have had high levels of excitement. Initial reviews seem almost overly hyped about what this car can do. Make no mistake we intended to test it ourselves.
In terms of overall performance, the RS is one of the best handling, most neutral and confidence inspiring setups in recent memory. To transform a FWD chassis, retro fit AWD and add torque vectoring shows just how much you can do with a car like this. When many think of AWD performance platforms Subaru is first on the list. The problem with every single Subaru is understeer by design. In the case of the RS the Subaru WRX and STI feel like FWD cars compared and that speaks volumes. The RS has NO undsteering tendencies on the street or a more flowing track. The only area it may go into FWD mode is in autox when the platform runs out of front camber or extended lapping where the RDU disables due to heat.
There is a reason why Americans get Euro and Asian vehicles imported with our own specific suspension tuning. In the case of the RS they did not change a thing, and for a road car, namely a hatchback, this is one of the worst dampened cars we have been in. When the dampers are in sport mode it feels like you are horseback riding, or sitting on a trampoline while little Tommy jumps about. In normal mode it's barely tolerable as a daily driver if the owner is in any place where the roads are less than average. While it gives confidence in the turns, unless the driver is always in the corners it gets old fast.
It's extremely powerful in 3rd gear and near the top of 2nd. In first there is so much electronic control of power delivery it feels more like 160HP than 350HP. Above 60MPH the RS is alive, and for high performance driving it's amazing. On the track pulling and keeping up with high HP cars is a non issue, and given the stability of the RS it will walk past most of the RWD vehicles below 60k namely on a colder track. On the street however, it's far less rewarding, as the limits are high. The most frustrating part is the motor, it just sounds like every other turbo four, the exhaust sounds choked/nerf and the digital engine noise in the cabin is overly synthetic. But mostly, the power feels restrained by the ECU in the lower gears.
The manual trans feel is top notch, extremely direct and easy to shift along with shorter throws. Zero complaints.
Easy to use and modulate, a great release for novice and avid drivers. This would be a great vehicle to learn on.
Dated, cramped and ECO car feeling. The Recaros are excellent for performance driving, however poor height and lower cushion adjust-ability could be a deal breaker as a primary vehicle.