Thursday, March 01, 2012

Ford Focus RS in the US

In search of a 'hot hatch' in America, you find yourself limited to very few good options. It seems the UK gets the best smaller performance cars while the US gets tuned down grocery getters. The decision for Ford not to bring the RS series to the US is speculated all over the web. Ford says Americans wont pay a premium for a sporty hatch, others say it's because it would compete with their Mazda "warm hatches" here in the US. Sure, they will offer the 2012 Focus ST to the US - the first supercharged focus for America, however it lacks in style and power as well as only appearing in a four door version. I'm sure it will be for a "premium" but what is the market for a "four door, warm hatch" over the standard focus? Who knows.

We do know that you cannot register a focus RS in the US due to our horrendous emission laws and the RS hasn't gone through our "safety crash test". It's sad when you see tons of American, hill-billy tucks pumping out black smoke and taking up space on the roads - but hey, politics are entertainment.
After some research the only places you can buy the clean burning hot hatch is the UK, Mexico and Australia.

So just what is the focus RS? Well, here it is: The Volvo C30. That's right, Ford took the turbocharged, 2.5 litre, 5 cylinder, Duratech engine with a 6speed manual and did a few tweaks. Then made the cosmetics of the volvo much more manly and snarly. When the 2009 RS came out in the UK, Ford owned Volvo - thus the new look.
Apart from some body panles, wheels, slight tuning this IS the Focus RS. Luckily, the Volvo C30 (2008 Volvo C30 R-Design) is approved for the big trucked, yet conservative roads of America.

If you search on ebay you will find Ford Focus RS body kit / panles. Also some very nice 19in alloy rims. As far as I can tell the only issue may be the rear of the car - volvos are ugly in the boot and the RS hatch is closer to a two door 2001 ford focus zts.

Focus RS: 3,227lb (1,467kg) curb weight
volvo c30: 2,970lb (1,331kg) curb weight

To make this happen in the US, you may need:
-'08-'12 Volvo C30 R-Design
-'01 02 Ford Focus ZTS (for the hatch)
- RS body panles or kit from ebay
- 19in rims and tires
- paint job
- steering wheel, roll cage, seats, seat belts, emblems if you choose
- tune the engine to get an extra 70hp (easy)
- breaks
- suspension?

This sounds expensive but keep in mind the 2009 RS came out for $51,000 when it hit the show floor.

Another option is to find a company that can import a UK Focus or Mexico Focus to the US. I'm really not sure how to go about getting one registered however.

I'd like to know if anyone has every done this conversion. We know there are at least 3 RSs' running around the US. Ken Block is one of the lucky ones. A gift from Ford.

Here is a build log of the older version of the RS.

It's awkward when your dream car is a Ford and you aren't allowed to have one living in the US.
If there are other ideas, someone custom building, options - I'd like to hear about it.

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