JULY MONTHLY MEETING, Drouin Golf Club – Thursday 14th July.

We had advertised that Mark McKibbin’s recently acquired Austin Seven Special was to be the display car at our July meeting, but when it arrived down south from Darwin, Mark couldn’t resist the urge to pull it to pieces. Its appearance at the Golf Club will therefore have to await reconstruction.

In its place this month, we substituted Ray Youlden’s brand-spanking-new Ford Focus RS, which is the most recent incarnation of Ford’s competition-orientated small car which began with the RS Escort some 25 years ago. Made in Germany and fitted with a Cosworth-headed, 2.3 litre turbo 4-cylinder engine driving all four wheels, this thing is the fastest and most powerful hot hatch around. It reaches 100km/h in 4.4 seconds and tops out at around 270 km/h. It’s capable of delivering the sort of performance normally associated with Porsches and Ferraris, but at only $51,000 it’s a performance car bargain. Ray waited 5 months for his white RS to arrive and believes it to be one of the first batch to find its way downunder.

Unless you’ve been living in a vacuum these past few weeks, you’ve probably noticed some of the unwarranted and sensationalist attention this new hot hatch from Ford has received from various police forces and social commentary do-gooders.  It’s been labelled it a “hoon car” because of its misunderstood Drift-Mode function.  In keeping with modern performance-car trends the RS is bristling with modern technology, but thankfully it comes fitted with a proper 6-speed fully manual gearbox. There’s Launch Control, Stability Control, and the ability to transfer the degree of drive to either end depending on circumstances. There’s also four selectable driving modes which either soften or harden the car’s suspension and sharpen the throttle response. The most radical of these modes is the Drift Mode which delivers 70% of the 350bhp drive to the rear wheels and when teamed with the electronic differential control is perfect for practicing your Ken Block driving skills.

The RS replaces Ray’s very well used BMW M3 which according to him was still a great driver’s car, but getting a little long-in-the-tooth. The RS is certainly a step up to the next level and should prove to be a very capable track car, especially when Ray acquires an additional set of wheels for some sticky competition tyres and fits that bigger intercooler that’s on order.

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