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The Ford Focus RS introduced a manual six-speed gearbox on the MK3 model, exhibiting an upgraded drivetrain, designed to cope with the extra power and pressure from the high-performance vehicle. Ford has previously stressed the importance of maintaining a high-level of driving experience for speed enthusiasts, hence why they chose to use a six-speed manual gearbox, designed to make the drive more dynamic and cut back on unnecessary weight for ultimate cornering performance.

Manual vs. Automatic Transmission

Automatic transmission is a popular choice for sports vehicle, chosen so that drivers don’t have to waste time manually climbing through the gear changes. Ford’s MK3 RS model argues the opposite, using a manual gearbox to allow drivers to bring the car up to speed.

Clever features used in the vehicle such as Launch Control and Performance Shift Light send a signal to the driver at exactly the right time to change gear. The speed assisting functions allow drivers to feel like they’re in full control of the power and performance. Ford wants drivers to feel the road and the corners on the RS model, just like they would on the racing track.

Tyrone Johnson, Ford’s Performance Vehicle Engineering Manager confirmed why manual was the only option for the RS: “DCT advantages include faster acceleration but disadvantages would be weight. Weight on the front end means understeer. I don’t want understeer.”

Ford is yet to feature automatic transmission on any of its RS models since their introduction.

Six-Speed Transmission

The six-speed manual gearbox has been compared to the ‘slick and tough’ manual gearbox used on the Fiesta ST. The manual aspect is designed for driving fanatics who like to control the vehicle without interference from modern, electronically-assisted systems. The gearbox only comes in manual, and there are no other transmission variants available on the MK3 RS.

Six-speed transmission is used on the RS to further improve performance, and the model has a similar gearbox set up to the Focus ST, including a light clutch pedal. Increased gears allow a smaller and more economical engine to power a larger-sized vehicle, whilst maintaining fuel efficiency.

Key Features

The gear lever is created to be shorter then on previous models, and has revised machinery to make changing gears faster and more precise. Upgraded, stronger materials have also been used on the transmission and clutch to further improve performance and allow the features to deal with 324lb of torque, and 347lb when using the overboost function, which works for a maximum of 15 seconds at a time.

324lb is available between 2000-4500 rpm, whilst 347lb in overboost function, is available at hard acceleration between 4500-6800rpm for up to 15 seconds. Overboost also boosts the torque distribution from 440Nm to 470Nm, adding an additional 30Nm at a time.

The MK3 RS model is fitted with ‘stall recovery’ technology, which is pretty similar to the start-stop feature fitted on many new models. The eco-feature temporarily shuts down the engine when the model is paused, and automatically resumes the engine by engaging the clutch pedal to restart if the vehicle has stalled.

Ford went against the trend and fitted the Focus RS with a one-pedal clutch gearbox, again giving a nod to a simple, fuss-free, high-performance driving experience.

Drive Modes

Normal mode uses the standard gearbox and transmission settings for everyday road driving. Throttle reaction is honed in Sport mode, and the steering feels heavier than normal. The rear-drive-unit is also recalibrated on this setting.

Track mode alters the ESC (electronic stability control) for more slip and less grip, specifically designed for use on fast circuits. Finally, Drift mode creates a yaw moment, sending power to the rear outer wheel and varying torque depending on the situation, and allowing the driver to drift with control around corners.

Read more about the Ford Focus RS MK3’s driving modes .


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