Ford redesigned the fixed-ratio steering wheel for their Focus RS MK3 model, fitting the vehicle with a three-spoke telescopic wheel that has been retuned and has an even-bottom design.
Ford didn’t just alter the chassis and suspension on the Focus RS, but also reworked the steering system on the third-generation model to give an improved feel, more responsive steering and an increased driving experience. Ford have given this model extra power, electric assistance, rigid knuckles (for front suspension) and decreased link arm length, determined to prove that steering the EPAS system can still maintain a sporty feel.
The Focus RS’s EPAS system uses an electric motor as opposed to a hydraulic pump. This means that the steering can be controlled more easily. The automatic system can automatically adapt to the road conditions and avoid pull-drift to the left or right, without the need for driver intervention.
The EPAS system sits inside the steering column already fitted in the vehicle, along with an electric motor and torque sensor. The sensor continuously monitors any steering wheel movement, and a signal is then sent to the engine control unit (ECU), which in turn delivers the required amount of support to the steering rack.
The RS steering wheel has been strategically designed so that it works just as well on low-friction surfaces, so drivers can perform precise drifts on the smoothest of surfaces.
The low-friction design is another feature of the steering wheel that mimics the style of those used in track-specific vehicles.
The linear steering algorithm on the Ford Focus RS EPAS system gives drivers increased control when travelling at high speeds, and reduces the shaking that comes with acceleration. Linear steering is more commonly used on racing tracks, and has much more of a sporty feel to it. Linear steering uses a rack and pinion and a flat-rack gear. These gears work together to make sure that the wheels turn by an equal amount when directed to do so through the steering wheel.
Most other vehicles use variable steering, which helps with parking, and gives the driver more leverage when turning the wheels at a sharp angle.
Ford’s decision to choose a linear steering gear means that the RS has a quicker ratio than the Focus ST (specifically 13.0 vs 13.7). This gives the RS steering wheel a straighter, sharper and speedier feel when navigating the roads.
The Ford Focus RS’s steering wheel has a flat-bottomed design, finished in soft-to-the-touch leather for a classy finishing touch.
Flat-bottomed steering wheels don’t necessarily improve the steering action for drivers, but have been around for a long time in track-specific vehicles, and are now known to be a symbol of a ‘sporty’ vehicle.
Each potential drive mode that can be selected has a different effect on the steering feel and response, and drivers can set their preferences for each driving modes. Normal mode and Drift mode use the standard steering, but Sport and Track modes sharpen up the steering, adding extra weight for a different feel completely.
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