Why it is so easy to figure out this sensational Focus RS
First drive in Valencia: Ford Focus RS
Published 03/02/2016 | 02:30
In the movie, Good Will Hunting, Will, an isolated and apathetic genius played by Matt Damon, visits his shrink, Robin Williams.
In an intellectual show of force Will oversteps a sensitive boundary when he comments on one of Williams' paintings.
The sagely psychiatrist retorts, "If I asked you about art, you'd probably give me the skinny on every art book ever written. But I bet you can't tell me what it smells like in the Sistine Chapel".
As I careened around a tight hairpin bend on the Circuit Valencia race track in Spain I was reminded that, like Will, I am guilty of paying too much attention to facts and figures.
However, on this particular occasion the new Ford Focus RS's staggering numbers were furthest from my mind.
I couldn't spare the 4.7 seconds that it takes to get from 0-100kmh to even think about that very fact.
When I entered the stadium area of the track, the knowledge of the Focus RS's 350bhp and 440 Newton metres of torque were vacationing in a different part of my brain.
Did you know that the RS's optimised grille mesh aids with airflow and downforce?
Or how the alloy cylinder head has high tensile cast iron liners? I don't know about you but I don't want to be friends with anyone who talks about high tensile cast iron liners.
Anyway, I was constantly too engrossed with driving the RS to think of anything other than how bloody quick the car is.
I knew that the RS had 350mm front brake discs and that the thickness of the sidewalls on the 235/35 R19 Michelin tyres were reinforced to cope with massive lateral forces.
But before driving on them I couldn't tell you what they actually feel like.
Now I can. They are mega. They grip tighter than an eagle's talons. And in 15 or so laps, I could not have cared less about the RS's price tag of €52,600.
Driving the Focus RS is so much more engaging than trying to understand its theoretically impressive numbers.
The chassis is nimble. The feedback through the steering wheel is immediate and precise.
Ford's latest AWD setup is astonishing.
It grips brilliantly, but when I selected Drift Mode and kept my foot firmly plonked to the floor, it performed a series of pirouettes.
What a laugh! Round and around I went. When I stopped, Launch Control ensured I got back up to speed briskly.
The RS behaves itself on the road so long as you do. It is comfortable, too.
My 120-kilometre mountain trail before reaching the track was dispatched with effortlessly.
Of course there are long, detailed explanations for all of these sophisticated feats of engineering but I don't know how to express them in a way without sounding schoolmasterly.
In any case, the Focus RS is a car that needs to be driven to be fully understood.
Numbers tell only a tiny portion of its story. However, perhaps best of all is that it didn't take a genius to figure that out.