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Ford Focus RS GGR 340
Meet the car that makes the standard Focus RS look like a pussycat! Ford’s rally-bred hatch rewrote the rulebook when it went on sale in March, by successfully pushing 301bhp through the front tyres – something no other road car has achieved without being plagued with torque steer.
However, the team at UK tuner Graham Goode Racing (GGR) thinks the car can handle even more bhp. The result is the RS GGR 340 – a model that’s mechanically identical to a Focus RS, except for one difference. An engine upgrade, developed with the help of ECU expert Superchips, has pumped up the already potent 301bhp 2.5-litre five-cylinder turbo unit to deliver a more muscular 340bhp. Will it be too hot for the front tyres to handle?
Well, if anyone should know the limits of a performance Ford, it’s Graham Goode. He’s been competing on the track in the firm’s machinery since 1973 – most famously in the British Touring Car Championship, where he was the first man to win a race with the legendary Sierra RS500 Cosworth. But since retiring in 1995, his focus has turned to useable, reliable upgrades for fast Ford road cars.
Installing the conversion couldn’t be easier. The engine software reprogramming is done via a Superchips’ Bluefin hand-held unit, which plugs into the Focus’ ECU and works its magic. Bluefin has a distinct advantage in that it saves the RS’s factory settings, so you can change between the standard 301bhp and the juicier 340bhp as often as you like. For our drive, we stuck with the latter.
First impressions are familiar to anyone who has driven a standard RS. GGR has left the in-your-face exterior styling, bar some decals on the front wings and bootlid, while the cabin is barely distinguishable from stock, aside from the turbo-boost gauges.
Push the starter button and the engine fires into life, before settling to a five-cylinder burble. Pull away, and you wonder whether GGR has tinkered at all. However, hold on to second gear and wait for the revs to rise, and your preconceptions of what a front-wheel-drive car can do are quickly rearranged.
The GGR 340 feels faster than the regular Ford from around 3,000rpm onwards, when power delivery becomes savage, the needle hunting out the red line with a hunger that the standard hatch can’t match. The whole powerband feels broader, so there might even be some economy gains if you use the extra torque at low revs and drive sensibly.
Important as straight-line pace is, can the Focus RS’s revolutionary front suspension set-up still eliminate torque-steer and maintain grip as well as it does in the stock model? The answer is an emphatic yes. Dial in the power, and even on rough surfaces the steering wheel keeps pointing where you place it. And as for grip in the dry? You’d swear power was being transferred to all four corners.
Get heavy-footed on the throttle in first, second and even third gears, and the tyres will spin away the power. But treated with respect, you can make devastatingly quick progress.
And the best part is the price – this extra pace is yours for only £435. So, for the same outlay as Ford’s built in sat-nav, you can have nearly an extra 40bhp, and buy a portable TomTom with the spare cash! Plus, there’s more to come. GGR is already working on a further RS tweak, with 370bhp-plus.
Rival: VW Scirocco RC280
If you can’t wait for the official Scirocco R, the RC280 we've driven before could be the car for you. UK tuner Niche Conversions has given it 89bhp more than the standard 2.0 TSI, but it retains the regular model’s driveability.
Author: Jack Rix