Ford – Automobile Magazine http://www.automobilemag.com No Boring Cars! | Reviews, Auto Shows, Lifestyle Tue, 27 Sep 2016 20:31:31 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.5.4 One Week With: 2016 Ford Focus ST http://www.automobilemag.com/news/2016-ford-focus-st-one-week-review-roadtest/ http://www.automobilemag.com/news/2016-ford-focus-st-one-week-review-roadtest/#respond Wed, 14 Sep 2016 10:00:01 +0000 http://www.automobilemag.com/?p=989364 If you’re a Ford Focus, naturally you want to be an RS: sizzling 350-horse 2.3-liter turbo four, all-wheel drive with dynamic torque vectoring, 19-inch forged-alloy wheels, the bragging rights of a standard Drift mode, and the breathless attention of everyone from auto journalists to such rivals as the Volkswagen Golf R and the Subaru WRX...

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If you’re a Ford Focus, naturally you want to be an RS: sizzling 350-horse 2.3-liter turbo four, all-wheel drive with dynamic torque vectoring, 19-inch forged-alloy wheels, the bragging rights of a standard Drift mode, and the breathless attention of everyone from auto journalists to such rivals as the Volkswagen Golf R and the Subaru WRX STi. You’re the star, the headliner, the one everyone wants to meet and hang with in the VIP room.

Which is to say, if you’re a 2016 Ford Focus ST, you live your life in a big shadow.

On paper, Ford’s second-tier hot hatch seems doomed to live out its days being outgunned and out-praised by its more potent sibling. But numbers on paper don’t always tell the real story. Is a giant, stadium-ready guitar amp “better” than a smaller one optimized for the recording studio? Is a 12-ounce rib-eye “better” than a 6-ounce filet mignon? Is an imposing fixed-blade KA-BAR knife better than a neatly folding Spyderco?

2016 Ford Focus ST rear three quarter

True, with “only” a 252-horse 2.0-liter turbo four, a front-drive chassis, and smaller 18-inch alloy wheels wearing optional high-performance all-season rubber, the Focus ST comes up short in a specs comparo. But make no mistake: the ST stands on its own very well indeed. It’s just as well-sorted, sports essentially the same dashing bodywork and sporty cockpit, and starts with a base sticker that undercuts the RS by roughly $10,000. Hmmmm…suddenly that “shadow” seems to be fading a bit.

As soon as I got behind the wheel of a 2016 Focus ST, I was happy. For one thing, my test car was dressed in optional “Tangerine Scream” orange paint ($595) and—hell, yeah!—a pair of black racing stripes ($495) running the car’s entire length. Try and pretend you don’t like racing stripes. Go on, try. When you see those streaks of black warpaint as you climb aboard, your pulse picks right up, your fingers quicken as they reach for the pushbutton starter, and your right foot begins to twitch. You’re having fun behind the wheel and you haven’t even moved an inch.

2016 Ford Focus ST dashboard

Once settled aboard, I began to notice—and appreciate—other welcome touches. The driver’s seat is a racy design with deep side bolsters and plenty of “hug.” The steering wheel is a fat three-spoke unit that feels great in your hands—and tilts and telescopes into perfect position. The shift knob and other interior bits are trimmed in carbon-fiber accents, part of a $4995 options package that includes dual-zone climate control, an 8-way power driver’s seat and heated fronts, bi-Xenon headlights, heated mirrors and steering wheel, and voice-activated navigation with SiriusXM traffic and premium Sony audio. Then I noticed the cool aluminum pedals. Those are standard.

Out on the road, the ST feels more performance-focused than the Mk6 VW GTI I’ve owned for a few years. The ride is noticeably firmer, the electric power-assisted steering a tad heavier, the engine louder and more insistent than the VeeDub’s 2.0-liter turbo. I could make a case that the GTI is the more refined machine, probably the better all-around daily driver. But the ST…well, it has those racing stripes. This is a car clearly prioritized for running hard.

Charging uphill on a favorite mountain two-lane, the turbo whistling with boost and the chassis tight and eager, the ST at last felt completely in its element. The six-speed manual shifter (the only transmission available) rows neat and secure, aided by pedals well-placed for heel-and-toe downshifting. Like the GTI, the Focus ST puts down its power without slipping or otherwise breaking traction—pretty commendable given the Ford’s 52-hp edge over my GTI. It’s easy to get into a rhythm with this car: the controls are nicely balanced, the power spools up progressively, the chassis responds as if it’s listening to your brain (“you want to tighten the cornering arc? No problem, here you go”). A trio of gauges on top of the dash allows you to monitor oil temp, turbo boost, and oil pressure—a thoughtful dose of peace of mind when you’re sweating yourself.

And here’s where the ST starts to get interesting. In some ways, simply because of its super-advanced all-wheel-drive system, the RS is less exciting to drive in the real world. Sure, it’s really fast. But is fast all there is to enjoying a car on mountain road? Is gunning a Lamborghini Aventador at half of its capabilities more fun than pushing a Mazda Miata closer to its limits? Think hard and be honest before you answer.

Personally, I’d say that without a racetrack (where it’s actually possible to explore a car’s limits), what you’re most looking for isn’t ultimate speed—but ultimate synchronicity with your machine. The Focus ST feels lighter on its feet than the RS and a little less grippy in the turns—but probably the more fun because of that. You can feel it dancing a bit, steering inputs have more effect (instead of the chassis being completely glued-down), your driving technique matters a little more. And as for the ST’s near 100-horsepower power deficit compared with the RS…again, speed matters when you’re driving to put food on the table. When you’re out there to enjoy yourself, playing on public byways, the far more rewarding virtues are balance and “feel.”

I had a blast playing mountain-shredder in the ST. In fact, if I were buying a new hot hatch today, I’d be making a big mistake not to consider this “second-tier” Focus. It’s sort of like how they say it is in the movies. The big stars get all the attention, but the B-players have all the fun. To me, the ST isn’t in a shadow. It’s stands in a spotlight all its own.

2016 Ford Focus ST front three quarter 01

2016 Ford Focus ST Specifications

On Sale: Now
Price: $23,500/$31,910 (base/as-tested)
Engine: 2.0L turbocharged DOHC 16-valve I-4/252 hp @ 5,500 rpm, 270 lb-ft @ 2,500 rpm
Transmission: 6-speed manual
Layout: 4-door, 5-passenger, front-engine, FWD hatchback
EPA Mileage: 22/31 mpg (city/hwy)
L x W x H: 171.7 x 71.8 x 57.9 in
Wheelbase: 104.3 in
Weight: 3,200 lb
0-60 MPH: 6.3 sec
Top Speed: 154 mph (est)
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Ford Adding Bang & Olufsen Premium Audio, Ditching Sony http://www.automobilemag.com/news/ford-adding-bang-olufsen-premium-audio-ditching-sony/ http://www.automobilemag.com/news/ford-adding-bang-olufsen-premium-audio-ditching-sony/#respond Tue, 13 Sep 2016 20:51:56 +0000 http://www.automobilemag.com/?p=989934 Ford announced today that it will introduce a new premium audio option, B&O Play, in an effort to meet rising demand for quality audio throughout its model range. The change to Bang & Olufsen audio systems (owned by Harman since 2015) will happen across Ford’s global lineup beginning next year, signaling the end of a...

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Ford announced today that it will introduce a new premium audio option, B&O Play, in an effort to meet rising demand for quality audio throughout its model range. The change to Bang & Olufsen audio systems (owned by Harman since 2015) will happen across Ford’s global lineup beginning next year, signaling the end of a partnership with Sony that started in 2003.

B&O Play will offer “specifically tailored speaker placement and calibration for each vehicle in the ford range,” according to Ford’s press release.

Harman, which already works with Ford to supply high-end Revel audio systems for Lincoln (pictured below), introduced the B&O Play brand in 2012. B&O Play is a more affordable series of products focusing on younger buyers with an appetite for good design in products like Bluetooth headphones and speakers. Although it’s B&O Play’s first automotive application, the Bang & Olufsen brand has deep roots in car audio systems most notably with Audi, but also with Aston Martin, Mercedes-Benz, and recently the BMW 7 Series.

Ford says that the move is largely in response to the power a premium audio system can have to sway potential buyers. It quotes a 2016 Automotive Audio Branding study that claims a third of buyers consider it to be a significant factor when deciding on a vehicle.

In our own testing of high-end audio systems in luxury vehicles, the clear winner was the Meridian audio package in the 2016 Range Rover Sport, although the Lincoln MKX was not far behind with its Revel system. We weren’t able to test a Bang & Olufsen system in the Audi A8, nor was the new 34-speaker Panaray system in the Cadillac CT6 yet available at the time of publication.

While Ford will continue to use Shaker audio systems for the Mustang, a Ford spokesperson confirms that anywhere you currently see a Sony system (Focus, Fusion, Explorer Platinum, to name a few) it will soon be replaced with a B&O Play system.

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Gymkhana Goes Back to its Roots in Ninth Installment http://www.automobilemag.com/news/gymkhana-goes-back-to-its-roots-in-ninth-installment/ http://www.automobilemag.com/news/gymkhana-goes-back-to-its-roots-in-ninth-installment/#respond Tue, 13 Sep 2016 20:30:09 +0000 http://www.automobilemag.com/?p=989506 It’s time for Gymkhana 9, and this time around Ken Block has pushed the reset button. The last Gymkhana shot in Dubai was an over-the-top production where Block shut down a major highway, drag-raced a Bugatti Veyron, and executed donuts surrounded by exotic supercars. Gymkhana 9, however, throws it back to the kind of playground we...

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It’s time for Gymkhana 9, and this time around Ken Block has pushed the reset button. The last Gymkhana shot in Dubai was an over-the-top production where Block shut down a major highway, drag-raced a Bugatti Veyron, and executed donuts surrounded by exotic supercars. Gymkhana 9, however, throws it back to the kind of playground we saw in earlier videos — this time set in an industrial park. Block’s stunt car is his 600-hp Ford Focus RS RX that he’s been racing in the current WRC season.

As always, Block shows off his masterful car control, drifting within inches of guardrails, the edge of a dock, and even a moving train (obviously you shouldn’t try any of this at home). The new Ford Raptor makes an appearance and is suspended in the air from a helicopter, with Block underneath doing donuts. Next up, Block heads to a vertical lift bridge as it is raised high above the water, leaving the Focus RS RX little room for more donut action.

Check out the new Gymkhana video below. And for your review, we’ve also included Gymkhana 8 featuring Block’s Ford Fiesta ST RX43, and Gymkhana 7, where Block ripped through the streets and freeways of Los Angeles in his “Hoonicorn” all-wheel-drive 1965 Ford Mustang. Which video is your favorite?

 

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Ford Focus RS Gets AMS Performance Tune to 410 HP http://www.automobilemag.com/news/ford-focus-rs-gets-ams-performance-tune-410-hp/ http://www.automobilemag.com/news/ford-focus-rs-gets-ams-performance-tune-410-hp/#respond Tue, 13 Sep 2016 16:17:02 +0000 http://www.automobilemag.com/?p=989362 AMS Performance got its start tuning the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution, a rally-inspired rocket that Mitsubishi has only just finished building after a very respectable run. Through the years, AMS Performance moved away from cheaper automobiles to tune cars like the Audi R8, the Nissan GT-R, and all other manner of exotica. Yet the company never...

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AMS Performance got its start tuning the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution, a rally-inspired rocket that Mitsubishi has only just finished building after a very respectable run. Through the years, AMS Performance moved away from cheaper automobiles to tune cars like the Audi R8, the Nissan GT-R, and all other manner of exotica. Yet the company never forgot its origins in the tuner scene, and with the introduction of the new Ford Focus RS, AMS Performance wanted to return to its roots.

The 2.3-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder in the Focus RS comes standard with 350 horsepower and 350 lb-ft of torque, enough grunt to launch the Focus RS to 60 mph in just 4.5 seconds. But power hungry buyers want more and AMS Performance is happy to satiate these gasoline swilling denizen’s need for speed with its Stage One E-Tune.

Ford Focus RS AMS Tune 1 Ford Focus RS AMS Tune 2 Ford Focus RS AMS Tune 3 Ford Focus RS AMS Tune 4

Thanks to a new ECU flash and a proprietary High Flow air filter, AMS Performance managed to gain an impressive 60 horsepower and 70 lb-ft of torque, giving the Focus RS a total of 410 horsepower and 420 lb-ft of torque. Most of the bump in power comes from the ECU flash, and AMS Performance’s expert Engine Calibrators who manage the new tune themselves after the owner logs the engine’s ECU data and sends the file to the performance shop.

In addition to the normal tune and its bump in power, AMS Performance also offers a race gas tune, selectable from a COBB Accessport, that develops 96 horsepower and 116 lb-ft of torque, giving the Focus RS 446 horsepower and 466 lb-ft of torque, which in our minds puts it nearly to the amount of horsepower Ken Block is making in his Focus RS RX Gymkhana car.

AMS Performance’s E-Tune will set Focus RS owners back a very reasonable $499.95, with the addition of the selectable Race Gas Tune costing $649.95, both of which are reasonable prices for such power gains. And this is only the first of many products to come, as AMS Performance stated that this is only the company’s “initial step.” We’re eager to see what else AMS Performance can come up with.

2016 Ford Focus RS Winter Tire Package sliding through snow 2016 Ford Focus RS Winter Tire Package rear view 2016 Ford Focus RS rear three quarter in motion 02 1 2016 Ford Focus RS front three quarter in motion 44 1 2016 Ford Focus RS front end in motion 1 2016 Ford Focus RS rear three quarter 2016 Ford Focus RS rear three quarter in motion 05 1 2016 Ford Focus RS front interior seats 2016 Ford Focus RS front interior seats 02 2016 Ford Focus RS interior view 04 2016 Ford Focus RS front interior seats 2016 Ford Focus RS instrument cluster 2016 Ford Focus RS gauges

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Hennessey Performance Gives the Ford Focus RS 405 HP http://www.automobilemag.com/news/hennessey-performance-gives-ford-focus-rs-405-hp/ http://www.automobilemag.com/news/hennessey-performance-gives-ford-focus-rs-405-hp/#respond Sun, 04 Sep 2016 10:00:40 +0000 http://www.automobilemag.com/?p=986404 The memo that the Focus RS has enough power seems to have never reached the gasoline- and nitrous-addled minds at Hennessey Performance, who boosted the Focus RS’ output to 405 hp and 425 lb-ft of torque. The stock 2017 Ford Focus RS develops around 350 hp and 350 lb-ft of torque, which is not enough for...

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The memo that the Focus RS has enough power seems to have never reached the gasoline- and nitrous-addled minds at Hennessey Performance, who boosted the Focus RS’ output to 405 hp and 425 lb-ft of torque. The stock 2017 Ford Focus RS develops around 350 hp and 350 lb-ft of torque, which is not enough for Texas, apparently.

Hennessey’s HPE400 package for the Focus RS consists of a reflashed ECU, a high-flow air filter, and a stainless steel exhaust upgrade with electronic dumps to increase the four-cylinder’s already loud exhaust note. Customers also get Hennessey and HPE400 exterior badges along with a Powered by Hennessey badge under the hood.

The company hasn’t released any performance statistics yet. The stock Focus RS can hit 60 mph in an already-quick 4.6 seconds, and we’re sure that Hennessey’s extra 50 hp and 75 lb-ft of torque will bring that below the 4.5 second mark.

Hennessey Ford Focus RS front end

Additionally, Hennessey Performance states that the company will also offer intercooler, turbo, wheels, tires, and other upgrades in the future, although there’s not much information on what those upgrades will be or how much horsepower the car will make after they are installed. From our brief glances from under the car, it seems as if Hennessey will also have to upgrade the driveshaft, axles, and rear differential to cope with any more horsepower.

As well as not releasing performance numbers, Hennessey is also keeping the price of the HPE400 package under wraps. Given Hennessey’s past pricing for other projects, don’t expect the HPE400 upgrade to be as frugal as the price tag for the Focus RS.

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2017 Shelby GTE Features Small Power Upgrades Alongside Shelby Styling http://www.automobilemag.com/news/2017-shelby-gte-features-small-power-upgrades-alongside-shelby-styling/ http://www.automobilemag.com/news/2017-shelby-gte-features-small-power-upgrades-alongside-shelby-styling/#respond Sat, 03 Sep 2016 20:44:16 +0000 http://www.automobilemag.com/?p=986620 Shelby American has released yet another Mustang variant: the new 2017 Shelby GTE. The E stands for “Enhanced” and is based on either the Ford Mustang EcoBoost or Ford Mustang GT. Shelby claims the GTE is a more affordable option than the high-performance Shelby GT, Terlingua, or Super Snake models. “Every high-octane attribute expected of...

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Shelby American has released yet another Mustang variant: the new 2017 Shelby GTE. The E stands for “Enhanced” and is based on either the Ford Mustang EcoBoost or Ford Mustang GT. Shelby claims the GTE is a more affordable option than the high-performance Shelby GT, Terlingua, or Super Snake models.

“Every high-octane attribute expected of a Shelby car is incorporated into an affordable package that will be available at any of our North American mod shops,” said Keith Belair, COO of Shelby American, in a release. “The Shelby GTE gives every fan the opportunity to drive the sports car of their dreams.”

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Similar to the 2007 Shelby GT, which stemmed from the Shelby GT-H (Hertz) program, the new 2017 Shelby GTE is inspired by the 2016 Shelby GT-H rental car.  The 2017 Shelby GTE features mild power upgrades and handling improvements along with Shelby’s signature styling.  Models with the 2.3-liter EcoBoost I-4 are now rated 335 hp, while those with the naturally aspirated 5.0-liter V-8 are rated 456 hp  gains of 25 hp and 21 hp, respectively. Ford Performance bits include the handling package, cat-back exhaust, and 19-inch alloy wheels.

Cosmetic upgrades include a Shelby vented hood, carbon fiber front splitter and rear spoiler, and Shelby badging. Shelby also added Shelby GTE logos on the head rests, sill plates, and floor mats.

“The Shelby GTE can be easily tailored for the road or the track, or even both” said Shelby American Vice President Gary Patterson. “And with our full range of Shelby performance parts, the possibilities are endless. If you can dream it, we can build it.”

In addition to engine choice, the Shelby GTE is available with the six-speed manual or automatic transmissions as well as coupe and convertible bodystyles.

Source: Shelby

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Ford GT40s at Pebble Beach http://www.automobilemag.com/news/ford-gt40-2016-pebble-beach-concours/ http://www.automobilemag.com/news/ford-gt40-2016-pebble-beach-concours/#respond Fri, 02 Sep 2016 22:45:22 +0000 http://www.automobilemag.com/?p=981444 A few years more than a half-century ago, Ford tried to buy Ferrari. When negotiations fell apart, the attitude at Ford became if you can’t buy ’em, beat ’em. That was Henry Ford II’s approach and he put Ford’s best effort and a huge budget behind it. The battleground? France’s famous 24 Hours of Le...

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A few years more than a half-century ago, Ford tried to buy Ferrari. When negotiations fell apart, the attitude at Ford became if you can’t buy ’em, beat ’em.

That was Henry Ford II’s approach and he put Ford’s best effort and a huge budget behind it. The battleground? France’s famous 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Ferrari had made a habit of winning at the Circuit de la Sarthe and it would be the perfect venue for Ford to make its point.

It didn’t happen right away. In 1964 and 1965 the Fords were fast but lacked Ferrari’s endurance. Henry the Deuce laid down the law: Get back to Le Mans and win.

Ford did so in 1966 and it worked. Not only did Ford win the 24 Hours of Le Mans, but took the first three finishing positions. To celebrate that win a half-century ago, the 2016 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance gathered 17 GT40s. There were the 1-2-3 finishers from 1966 and the cars that brought Ford victory in 1967, 1968, and 1969. Plus many more.

Here is a gallery of the Ford GT40 weekend at the 2016 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance.

Ford GT40 2016 Pebble Beach Conours Group Photo With Edsel Ford 1964 Ford GT40 Tribute Car 2016 Pebble Beach Conours Ford GT40 Mirage 2016 Pebble Beach Conours Ford GT40 Scuderia Filipinetti 2016 Pebble Beach Conours

1. Edsel Ford was a young man at Le Mans in 1966 and one of the driving forces behind gathering the cars at Pebble in 2016.

2. None of the original 1964 Ford GT40 prototypes exist, but Claude Nahum of Founex, Switzerland, had this “tribute” car created. It is very unusual to find a replica on the field at Pebble Beach, but this car is so authentically created and of such importance that Pebble organizers made an exception for it.

3. John Wyer’s variation on the GT40, the Mirage.

4. This ex-Scuderia Filipinetti has the look of most GT40 race cars.

1967 Ford GT40 Andretti McLaren 2016 Pebble Beach Conours 1967 Ford GT40 Gurney Foyt 2016 Pebble Beach Conours Ford GT40 MkII 2016 Pebble Beach Conours With Derek Hill Ford GT40 Chassis 1075 2016 Pebble Beach Conours

5. In 1967, Mario Andretti and Bruce McLaren drove this GT40 Mk IV to a win in the 1967 12 Hours of Sebring.

6. Dan Gurney and A.J. Foyt raced this GT40 Mk IV to win the 1967 24 Hours of Le Mans.

7. Master of ceremonies at Pebble Beach was Derek Hill, whose father, Phil, was involved in the early years of Ford GT40 development. Hill drove up on the awards ramp in a GT40 Mk IIB that belongs to the Revs Institute for Automotive Research. It is the last Mk II to win a race and, oddly enough, has two serial numbers—but that’s another story.

8.Only two cars in the history of the 24 Hours of Le Mans have won twice, and this is one of them. It is GT40 chassis 1075, which was victorious in 1968 and 1969. Here the driver is congratulated by Edsel Ford, his son Henry Ford III, and one of the winning drivers from 1969, Jacky Ickx.

Ford GT40 Le Mans Winners 2016 Pebble Beach Conours Ford GT40 MkIII 2016 Pebble Beach Conours Ford GT40 Roadster 2016 Pebble Beach Conours

9. The trio of winning GT40s assembled on the awards ramp at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance.

10. This is the first of the series of road-going GT40s called Mk IIIs. It came in third at Pebble in GT40-class judging.

11. A rare GT40, one of the Roadsters, which finished second in the GT40 class.

1966 Ford GT40 Bucknum Hutcherson 2016 Pebble Beach Conours 1966 Ford GT40 Miles Hulme 2016 Pebble Beach Conours 1966 Ford GT40 Chassis 1046 2016 Pebble Beach Conours

12. Ronnie Bucknum and Dick Hutcherson were third at Le Mans in 1966 in this Holman & Moody-entered GT40 Mk II.

13. Shelby American entered this GT40 Mk II, which finished second at Le Mans in 1966 driven by Ken Miles and Denny Hulme.

14. A winner then and now. The GT40 Mk II that won Le Mans in 1966 driven by Chris Amon and Bruce McLaren. This year it won the GT40 class at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance.

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2016 Ford Focus RS: The Ownership Experience, Part 2 http://www.automobilemag.com/news/2016-ford-focus-rs-ownership-experience-part-2/ http://www.automobilemag.com/news/2016-ford-focus-rs-ownership-experience-part-2/#respond Fri, 02 Sep 2016 13:47:25 +0000 http://www.automobilemag.com/?p=986162 The miles keep accumulating on the 2016 Ford Focus RS, but not to the level I had hoped. AUTOMOBILE’s Four Seasons 2016 Nissan Maxima SR graced my presence for a couple of weeks, I spent an extended stint behind the wheel of the new 2017 Mercedes-Benz E300 4Matic, and I jetted off to England for...

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The miles keep accumulating on the 2016 Ford Focus RS, but not to the level I had hoped. AUTOMOBILE’s Four Seasons 2016 Nissan Maxima SR graced my presence for a couple of weeks, I spent an extended stint behind the wheel of the new 2017 Mercedes-Benz E300 4Matic, and I jetted off to England for nearly three weeks. At least time away from the all-wheel-drive, 350-hp Focus RS confirms that absence makes the heart grow fonder.

I truly missed the manic Ford. I’m now playing with the drive modes, pushing the RS harder through the corners. Quite simply, the car is amazing. Activating sport mode and tapping the stability control button to loosen up its level of involvement transforms the hatchback. It’s amazing how naturally the active rear differential juggles torque. I was expecting a bit of a contrived, video-game feel given all that’s going on underneath, but that’s definitely not the case. The standard Michelin Pilot Super Sport tires offer loads of grip, but are progressive at the limit. You can really power out of corners and the pace of the Ford Focus RS is amazing. On a particularly challenging highway on-ramp not far from my house, the RS is astonishing in its ability to counter understeer and carry enormous speed. In most other cars, understeer would rear its ugly head and you’d be forced to lift to restore front-end grip. With the Focus RS, you can just keep pushing and the trick rear diff keeps rotating the car.

2016 Ford Focus RS Ownership 19

Still, I wish there was a separate, user configurable drive mode and, ideally, a stand-alone sport exhaust button. Ford runs this type of setup on the Shelby GT350, so you can play with the settings outside of the set drive modes. The Volkswagen Golf R also has an individual mode. I’d like to adjust the steering, throttle map and exhaust separately on my Focus RS instead of having to rely on four pre-programmed drive modes.

My ideal setup for brisk road driving would be normal throttle, so it’s not too aggressive and more linear. I’d then set the all-wheel drive system into sport mode to get the rear diff to rotate the car. The exhaust also needs to be in sport mode, for the lovely pops and bangs—which surely aren’t helping the fuel economy (more on that below). Stability control is best in sport mode too. Steering is best in normal mode, as the helm is a touch too heavy in sport.

In my intro story on the Focus RS, I complained about the Recaro seats. These have been tempered somewhat by a homemade seat cushion, which added much needed lower lumbar support. I’m still not in love with the aggressive bucket seats but they no longer cause my back agony. Additionally, the bulk of the Recaros means the outside of the side bolsters rub on the center armrest, causing an annoying squeak, especially when someone is seated in the passenger seat. My trip to England put me in a Volkswagen Golf R for a couple of hours and I sure wish I could install those perches in the Focus RS.

2016 Ford Focus RS Ownership 04

Not that I’m able to spend a ton of time in the Ford before needing to stop for a refill of premium unleaded fuel. The U.S. Focus ST is cursed with a small, 12.4-gallon fuel tank. The Focus RS is a bit better at 13.9 gallons, but the faster sibling is also the thirstier one. I’ve been averaging between 19 and 20 mpg in mostly city driving, causing the fuel light to ignite after only around 200 miles or less. And I’m still very much respecting the engine as I continue to obtain more clicks on the odometer before properly thrashing the RS. I’m sure my average will go down even further when I start pushing the throttle hard against the carpet, but I also foresee decent highway fuel economy if I keep my speed in check. We will see.

Speaking of keeping all in check, I’m disappointed that Ford North America fails to supply U.S. buyers with the full story on tire pressures for the Focus RS. Cars that come to our shores only note the full-load tire pressures—46 psi front, 46 psi rear. European RS buyers are given further information including part-load pressures—41 psi front, 38 psi rear. Unless you’re loading down your RS with 4 or 5 people and/or a ton of luggage, you really want to run the part-load numbers for the best handling and ride quality. I tracked down the UK Focus RS owner’s manual online, so I’m running the part-load pressures. We’ll see if this causes any issues with the U.S. tire pressure monitoring system. It hasn’t so far, but I’m militant about checking tire pressures regularly. I tried to have my local Ford dealer reprogram the TPMS system to fully jive with the part-load pressures—like some Ford F-150 owners are doing—but the lead tech could not find a way to sort the RS with the Ford computer.

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The only other notable quirks with the Focus RS thus far are the dreadfully large turning circle and some SYNC 3 infotainment foibles. It’s nice that the Focus RS comes with 5 years of free SiriusXM Travel Link including traffic, fuel prices, weather, ski conditions, movie listing and sports info. Unfortunately, not all works so well. A few times, the traffic feature didn’t function when leaving my office at 5:30 pm. I tried refreshing the traffic list but had no luck—rather frustrating when trying to get around busy roads. Also, the Travel Link weather and ski conditions are functioning but the fuel prices are not. I’ve confirmed all aspects of the Travel Link subscription are active in the SYNC 3 system and on my account, and have sent a signal refresh. I may need to visit the dealer and see what they have to say. Also, using the touch screen to search for music on a USB drive isn’t exactly smooth. You can’t go back via each level of music folder easily. Other manufacturers have a better setup in this regard, but at least Ford’s voice search works very well. SYNC 3 is a good system overall and a giant leap ahead of the dreadful MyFord Touch.

My goal now is to finally pile some much needed miles on the RS. While doing just that, I’ll be keeping an eye on the recently-released, Ford-approved Mountune engine upgrade offered to European buyers. Ford North America won’t comment on any timing for the upgrade to be released in the States or confirm that it’s indeed going to be offered here, but I’d love to play with the bump of roughly 25 hp and 30 lb-ft of torque. (Mountune says the kit is awaiting CARB approval and Ford’s final say-so, but all should be a go by the end of the year.) While 25 hp may not be a huge jump in power, the similar upgrade to the Focus ST doesn’t affect your factory warranty if installed by a Ford dealership. That’s key in my mind, and I love Ford’s direct involvement versus random aftermarket ECU flashes that don’t live up to the hype. In truth, it’s not as if the Focus RS feels like it needs a ton more power so I’m not that desperate to make the change. I just want to spend more time in the car.

2016 Ford Focus RS Ownership 02 2016 Ford Focus RS Ownership 01 2016 Ford Focus RS Ownership 21 2016 Ford Focus RS Ownership 20 2016 Ford Focus RS Ownership 18 2016 Ford Focus RS Ownership 17 2016 Ford Focus RS Ownership 15 2016 Ford Focus RS Ownership 14 2016 Ford Focus RS Ownership 13 2016 Ford Focus RS Ownership 12 2016 Ford Focus RS Ownership 10 2016 Ford Focus RS Ownership 09 2016 Ford Focus RS Ownership 07 2016 Ford Focus RS Ownership 06 2016 Ford Focus RS Ownership 05 2016 Ford Focus RS Ownership 03

2016 Ford Focus RS Specifications

  • On Sale: Spring
  • Price: $36,605 (base)
  • Engine: 2.3L turbo DOHC 16-valve I-4/350 hp @ 6,000 rpm, 350 lb-ft @ 2,000-4,500 rpm
  • Transmission: 6-speed manual
  • Layout: 4-door, 5-passenger, front-engine, AWD hatchback
  • EPA Mileage: 21/29 mpg (city/hwy) (est)
  • L x W x H: 172.8 x 71.8 x 58.0 in
  • Wheelbase: 104.3 in
  • Weight: 3,525 lb (est)
  • 0-60 mph: 4.4 sec
  • Top Speed: 165 mph
2016 Ford Focus RS front three quarter 02 2016 Ford Focus RS front three quarter 01 2016 Ford Focus RS side profile 2016 Ford Focus RS front spoiler 01 2016 Ford Focus RS badge 03 2016 Ford Focus RS door sill plate 2016 Ford Focus RS rear spoiler 2016 Ford Focus RS badge 04 2016 Ford Focus RS tire 2016 Ford Focus RS wheel 1 2016 Ford Focus RS cabin 1 2016 Ford Focus RS center stack 2016 Ford Focus RS seats 2016 Ford Focus RS badge 02 1 2016 Ford Focus RS seat detail 2016 Ford Focus RS infotainment 2016 Ford Focus RS front spoiler 02 2016 Ford Focus RS engine 1 2016 Ford Focus RS emergency brake 2016 Ford Focus RS drive mode setting button 2016 Ford Focus RS door mirror 2016 Ford Focus RS dashboard gauges 1 2016 Ford Focus RS climate control 2016 Ford Focus RS cargo storage 2016 Ford Focus RS cargo space

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The 2016 USSV Rhino GX is for the Dictator in All of Us http://www.automobilemag.com/news/2016-ussv-rhino-gx-review/ http://www.automobilemag.com/news/2016-ussv-rhino-gx-review/#respond Wed, 31 Aug 2016 10:00:48 +0000 http://www.automobilemag.com/?p=972619 Shortly after the Humvee’s world debut during Operation Desert Storm, AM General launched a civilian version dubbed the H1. Between the successful military campaign and support from Arnold Schwarzenegger, the H1 developed a cult-like following. General Motors bought the brand in 1999 and launched the Hummer H2 three years later. Production of the H1 ended...

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Shortly after the Humvee’s world debut during Operation Desert Storm, AM General launched a civilian version dubbed the H1. Between the successful military campaign and support from Arnold Schwarzenegger, the H1 developed a cult-like following. General Motors bought the brand in 1999 and launched the Hummer H2 three years later. Production of the H1 ended in 2006, when the smaller H3 joined the lineup. Changing market trends and an economic recession forced the General to shutter the brand in 2010, but one market didn’t get the memo: China where demand for Hummers never ceased

Enter US Specialty Vehicles (USSV) and the Rhino GX, which the company designed to meet that demand. The Rhino GX is one seriously imposing vehicle. It measures a staggering eight feet from the left wheel to the right. In height, it stands almost seven-and-a half-feet tall. According to its builder, the Rhino GX weighs nearly 10,000 pounds. That’s around the size of a full-grown African Elephant, except the Rhino GX drives alongside you on the way to the grocery store.

Rhino GX rear three quarter 02

Under the brawny skin is a 2016 Ford F-450 Super Duty. USSV strips the truck of its body, cuts off the rear part of the cab, and grafts on the bodywork that turns it into the seven-person SUV you see here. Except for the composite hood and fender flares, the body of the unarmored version is made out of twin 20-gauge steel panels, enough to safely deflect a round fired from a .45-caliber gun. An armored version capable of withstanding anything a small coup d’état can muster is available, but customers will have to shell out an extra $80,000 for the additional protection.

Ford’s 6.7-liter Power Stroke diesel engine, which starts out making 440 hp and 860-lb-ft of torque, has been modified to produce more than 500 hp and 900 lb-ft of torque versus the stock up from 440 horsepower and 860 lb-ft, giving the Rhino GX enough go to easily push its way out of almost any situation. Due to its high curb weight, however, towing ability has been reduced to “just” 13,000 pounds. The exterior also has full 360-degree HID flood lights to illuminate the night or situations where tear gas, dust, or whatever else obstructs the driver’s view. And there are exterior grab handles and running boards for those occasions when the owner employs additional security forces for an escort through the hostile neighborhoods of Brentwood or Malibu.

Rhino GX side profile 01

Given the Rhino GX’s absurd curb weight and that it runs on knobby all-terrain Toyo tires, you’d think the suspension and tires are unable to cope. However, with an upgraded hydraulic suspension system in the rear and Super Duty springs up front, the Rhino feels like an old Cadillac outfitted with swamper tires. You still feel bumps when riding in the cabin, and you can definitely feel the truck’s weight, but it feels far less substantial than we expected.

USSV builds the Rhino’s seats in-house. Their plush leather and soft inserts do a fair amount to smooth out the remaining imperfections in the Rhino GX’s ride quality. Where the Rhino GX fails somewhat in its opulent Russian oligarch nature, however, is in how much road noise the tires transmit into the cabin. We’re not saying the cabin sounds like you’re standing next to a speaker at a GWAR concert, but maybe a few rows back. We’re sure this characteristic would change if you upgraded to the armored Rhino and its thick, bullet-proof windows.

Rhino GX front three quarter 02

To help alleviate road noise, USSV installs a full Alpine stereo system with DVD and gaming hookups complete with headphones.

Is the Rhino GX the most “look at me” vehicle you can buy? With an appearance resembling something the U.S. Army would send to Afghanistan, you bet. But there’s a twist.

In the U.S., the Rhino GX starts at $195,000; in China, where demand is greatest, it costs almost three times that amount due to import taxation. That makes this a half-a-million dollar rig based on a workhorse truck that starts at just $51,255. And for the person who would put down that $500,000,attracting attention is likely all they care about. Just try not to feel too much like a tin-pot dictator while driving it.

2016 US Specialty Vehicles Rhino GX Specifications

On Sale: Now
Price: $195,000 (base)
Engine: 6.7L DOHC 32-valve Turbocharged V-8/500 hp, 900 lb-ft
Transmission: 5-speed automatic
Layout: 4-door, 7-passenger, front-engine, AWD SUV
EPA Mileage: 10 mpg (est highway)
L x W x H: 225 in x 96 in x 88 in
Wheelbase: 140.8 in
Weight: 9,800 lbs (without armor)
0-60 MPH: NA
Top Speed: NA
US Specialty Vehicles Rhino GX front end Rhino GX front end 01 Rhino GX front end 02 Rhino GX front three quarter 01 Rhino GX front three quarter 03 Rhino GX front three quarter 04 Rhino GX front three quarter 05 Rhino GX feature image US Specialty Vehicles Rhino GX front three quarters Rhino GX front three quarter 09 Rhino GX front three quarter 08 Rhino GX front three quarter 07 Rhino GX front three quarter 10 Rhino GX rear three quarter 03 Rhino GX rear three quarter 02 Rhino GX rear three quarter 01 Rhino GX rear end 02 Rhino GX rear end 01 Rhino GX side profile 04 Rhino GX side profile 03 Rhino GX side profile 02 Rhino GX side profile detail Rhino GX side windows Rhino GX side mirror Rhino GX front end 03 Rhino GX grille Rhino GX decal Rhino GX roof top running lights Rhino GX exterior detail Rhino GX running board Rhino GX seats 01 Rhino GX seats 02 US Specialty Vehicles Rhino GX interior Rhino GX dashboard 02 Rhino GX dashboard 01

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Hot Take: 2016 Ford Shelby GT350 http://www.automobilemag.com/news/hot-take-2016-ford-shelby-gt350/ http://www.automobilemag.com/news/hot-take-2016-ford-shelby-gt350/#respond Fri, 26 Aug 2016 10:00:42 +0000 http://www.automobilemag.com/?p=979180 Shortly into my first day at AUTOMOBILE, associate editor Jonathon Klein tosses me a key fob. “Here, take the Shelby,” he says. Well, that’s one way to start a new job. When I last drove a new Ford Mustang, it still had a wheel-hop-inducing solid rear axle. With that bit of vintage engineering finally replaced...

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Shortly into my first day at AUTOMOBILE, associate editor Jonathon Klein tosses me a key fob. “Here, take the Shelby,” he says. Well, that’s one way to start a new job.

When I last drove a new Ford Mustang, it still had a wheel-hop-inducing solid rear axle. With that bit of vintage engineering finally replaced by a modern independent rear setup, the excellent engines Ford is fitting its pony car with are truly able to come alive.

2016 Ford Mustang Shelby GT350 rear three quarter 01

The 2016 Shelby GT350 is simply a joy to drive, its 5.2-liter, 526-hp, 429-lb-ft, flat-plane crank V-8 practically begs to be opened up if you so much as think about putting pressure on the fun pedal. Getting ready for a drive on open freeway? Bring a radar detector. Stuck in traffic? Wait for an opening between slow-moving Priuses and allow the howl from the high-revving V-8 to wash over you. Sure, some people might think you’re one of those impatient, aggressive types, but those people would equally as guilty if their accelerators produced the same aural and gravitational sensations.

2016 Ford Mustang Shelby GT350 badge and fender 2016 Ford Mustang Shelby GT350 door sill 2016 Ford Mustang Shelby GT350 exhaust 2016 Ford Mustang Shelby GT350 badge

Rounding out the total package of fun is the precise Tremec TR-3160 six-speed manual. Modern twin-clutch autos may shift infinitely faster, but no computer will ever replace the emotional satisfaction of a proper manual gearbox. The Shelby’s Tremec has plenty of the mechanical heft the company’s boxes are known for, which fits neatly with the engine’s personality — though aggressive shifts while accelerating no longer prod the rear to step out thanks to modernized suspension geometry.

2016 Ford Mustang Shelby GT350 front view in motion 01

Our tester didn’t have navigation or a large touchscreen, which is unfortunate but also easily resolved with a suction-cup mount for your phone. Besides, you don’t need it yelling at you while you exclaim “Wheee!” with a stupid grin on your face as you blast down the nearest long on-ramp or carve your local back road to the sound of the V-8’s growl as it inches toward its stratospheric 8,250 rpm redline. If you live near any sort of twisty road topography, write off your weekends; you’ll be spending all your free time driving. After a ride in the passenger seat, your friends will understand.

2016 Ford Shelby GT350 Specifications

On Sale: Now
Price: $56,970
Engine: 5.2L DOHC 32-valve V-8/526 hp @ 7,500 rpm, 429 lb-ft @ 4,750
Transmission: 6-speed manual
Layout: 2-door, 5-passenger, front-engine, RWD coupe
EPA Mileage: 16/24 mpg (city/hwy)
L x W x H: 188.9 x 75.9 x 54.2 in
Wheelbase: 107.1 in
Weight: 3,760 lb
0-60 MPH: 4.1 sec
Top Speed: 175 mph (est)
2016 Ford Mustang Shelby GT350 top view in motion 01 2016 Ford Mustang Shelby GT350 front view in motion 03 2016 Ford Mustang Shelby GT350 rear three quarter 02 2016 Ford Mustang Shelby GT350 front end 03 2016 Ford Mustang Shelby GT350 front view in motion 06 2016 Ford Mustang Shelby GT350 top view in motion 02 2016 Ford Mustang Shelby GT350 front view in motion 02 2016 Ford Mustang Shelby GT350 front three quarter in motion 04 2016 Ford Mustang Shelby GT350 rear three quarter in motion 2016 Ford Mustang Shelby GT350 front three quarter in motion 07 2016 Ford Mustang Shelby GT350 front view in motion 05 2016 Ford Mustang Shelby GT350 front three quarter in motion 03 2016 Ford Mustang Shelby GT350 wheels 2016 Ford Mustang Shelby GT350 side profile in motion 2016 Ford Mustang Shelby GT350 front end detail 01 2016 Ford Mustang Shelby GT350 front three quarter in motion 05 2016 Ford Mustang Shelby GT350 front view in motion 04 2016 Ford Mustang Shelby GT350 fender and wheel 02 2016 Ford Mustang Shelby GT350 front three quarter in motion 06 2016 Ford Mustang Shelby GT350 door trim panel 2016 Ford Mustang Shelby GT350 front three quarter 02 2016 Ford Mustang Shelby GT350 front end 2016 Ford Mustang Shelby GT350 fender and wheel 03 2016 Ford Mustang Shelby GT350 top view 2016 Ford Mustang Shelby GT350 front three quarter 04 2016 Ford Mustang Shelby GT350 fender and wheel 01 2016 Ford Mustang Shelby GT350 front three quarter in motion 01 2016 Ford Mustang Shelby GT350 front end detail 02 2016 Ford Mustang Shelby GT350 front three quarter 03 2016 Ford Mustang Shelby GT350 front three quarter 01 2016 Ford Mustang Shelby GT350 front end 02 2016 Ford Mustang Shelby GT350 front three quarter in motion 08

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