Ford’s Focus RS laughs in the face of winter

The Ford Focus RS can trace its roots back to Ford rally cars, and the new model claims some measure of all-weather capability thanks to a sophisticated all-wheel drive system. So even though some parts of the country are currently covered in snow, that shouldn’t stop the RS.

Ford agrees, which is why it equipped the RS with an optional winter tire and wheel package. Dearborn claims the RS is the first car in North America offered with optional snow tires from the factory. Making that option available was easier said than done, according to the company.

There are no winter-only testing standards for performance, so Ford had to make some of its own. Some might question the validity of testing standards developed by a company for its own product, but it at least shows Ford didn’t just bolt some new wheels and tires on and hope for the best. Several setups were tested in the brutal weather of northern Michigan and Sweden.

The setup engineers chose was a 225/40R18 Michelin Pilot Alpin PA4 tire mounted on an 18-inch wheel specific to the winter package. The combination is narrower than the stock Focus RS wheel-and-tire setup, and with a smaller diameter meant to let owners fit snow chains, Ford says. The wheels are also painted “sparkle silver” to help hide salt spray.

If there was ever a performance car you’d want to drive all year round, it’s the Focus RS. Its 2.3-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine produces 350 horsepower and 350 pound-feet of torque, which is channeled to all four wheels through a six-speed manual transmission. The all-wheel drive system even has a “drift mode” for on-demand sideways action, probably something you shouldn’t try on snow.

The winter tire package is only available in North America. It’s priced at $1,995, and will be fitted to all cars sold in Canada at the factory. However, the Focus RS doesn’t arrive here until this spring, so owners won’t have an opportunity to test out the winter setup until next season.

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