We do a fair amount of talking about the importance of proper winter tires around here. Now you can option winter-friendly rubber on perhaps the hottest hot-hatch in the FoMoCo stable, the Ford Focus RS.
A press release from Ford said the all-wheel drive, 350-horsepower Focus RS can now be ordered with the Winter Wheel & Tire Package, which gives the car a unique set of wheels and tires more suited for winter road conditions than the more summer-biased performance rubber specced on the model by default.
Ford Performance Chassis Supervisor Adam Wirth said, “We started this project knowing what our RS customers really want out of their cars. This tire package allows RS owners to continue spirited driving even in the snow.”
Ford said its Performance skunkworks developed the Winter Wheel & Tire Package so the most demanding Focus customers can be properly outfitted for winter driving conditions. However, the automaker said it had to create a set of winter-only testing procedures and standards from scratch, as the Motor Company previously had none. The new standards reportedly were tested not just in northern Michigan, but in Sweden as well. Ford said its engineers tested a wide variety of high-performance winter tire and wheel options while determining the optimum combination of desired ride, handling, and performance variables in different winter conditions.
What the engineers ultimately settled on: Michelin Pilot Sport Alpin PA4 tires in size 225/40R18 wrapped over a new-design 18×7.5-inch wheel. The wheel reportedly looks very similar to the base Ford Focus RS wheel option, but is painted sparkle silver in part to hide salt spray, according to the press release.
Importantly, Ford said the wheels and tires are narrower than the base wheel and tire package, which improves snow traction, while their smaller overall diameter allows owners to fit snow chains if needed.
Wirth said, “We fully expect our more extreme-weather customers to take advantage of the ability to use snow chains”
Ford said the Focus RS’ Ford Performance All Wheel Drive can take “full advantage” of the winter tires thanks to its ability to be fully tweaked and customized by the driver. Wirth said, “Settings are completely driver preference. Customers are able to utilize all four drive modes to suit their driving style in winter conditions.”
The Ford Focus RS Winter Wheel & Tire Package is available to Ford customers in North America as a $1,995 option — though Ford said the package comes “standard” for Canadian customers. The Ford Focus RS reportedly is set to arrive at dealerships this spring.
This author, for one, hopes the Winter Wheel & Tire Package sells well on the new Ford Focus RS so that maybe, just maybe, automotive OEMs will consider making this kind of package a more widespread option. Sure, $1,995 sounds steep. But would I have paid, say, an extra $750 to $1,000 for an extra set of 15-inch wheels and some winter tires on my last family car purchase? You bet — even down here in Tennessee, winter tires can be a blessing when dealing with winter weather.