It’s been a busy few weeks for me and the Focus. You may remember that a couple of issues ago I had taken delivery of the recently-released uprated front and rear anti-roll bars from H&R…? Well, as you would have seen from the fitting guide last issue, they are now firmly in place and have tightened the RS’s already fantastic chassis even further. I’ve only got them set on the softest setting for now (heading towards the winter months when the roads start to get a bit more slippy I thought it best, but I’ll look to try out the harder setting in the Spring – maybe even venturing on track once or twice next year too!), but even on the lower of the two settings you can still feel an immediate improvement over the stock roll bars. Initial turn-in is definitely sharper, and you can really feel the car sitting flatter through long sweeping bends too. If you just drive your RS in straight lines and on the motorway then you probably won’t feel the true benefits, but if you like to chuck the thing around on the back lanes and B-roads then you’ll question why Ford didn’t fit them in the first place! Especially as there appears to be zero compromise. I was half expecting the already quite firm ride to be a little more shakey, but it really isn’t. If you’re a track dayer I reckon you’ll swear by them!
But that’s not the only upgrade that’s been fitted in recent weeks, as I went back to SCC Performance in St. Albans armed with a box of goodies from TAROX ready to upgrade the RS’s brakes too. I won’t spoil it too much as we’ll run a full fitting guide on everything in a future issue, but we fitted TAROX’s new two-piece front disc upgrade, grooved rear discs, performance pads, and Goodridge performance brake lines all round too!
You may question why you would bother, the RS’s Brembos are great brakes out of the factory. They are, that’s true. But with some proper performance-orientated pads in them and some decent brake lines to firm up the pedal feel they are a million times better! It’s not until then that realise how ‘gentle’ the stock pads are, their performance obviously compromised in favour of things like low noise, low dust, and longevity of the disc.
I’ve covered about 700 miles now with the TAROX upgrades in place and there are two main improvements I’ve noticed compared to the stock discs and pads: the first is that the initial bite is vastly better than before – so much so that it actually takes a fair bit of getting used to, especially when creeping forwards and junctions, traffic lights, etc; and the second thing to note is the longer/harder you stand on the brake pedal, the better the brakes get. The only thing I can compare it to is like driving a car with a big brake kit, when the rate of deceleration actually improves the longer you are on the brake pedal – you even get that tell-tale ‘clicking’ from the grooves when everything gets up to temperature too!
With both the roll bars and the brakes fitted I am keen to see how the car will perform on track, where I can really put the RS through its paces. But, with the summer show season winding down for this year I’m going to have to wait until 2018 now before that will happen. Instead, I’ve got a few more meets and shows to attend – including the recent Ford Fest at Santa Pod (full show report next issue) – where I can show off the latest upgrades and enjoy the drive to and from the event! And one look at all the stonechips across the front end will tell you that I do enjoy the drives to and from events!
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