Ford Motor Company’s all-wheel-drive 350-horsepower Focus RS can now be ordered with a fully certified winter tire kit. The Focus RS Winter Wheel & Tire Package offers customers a separate set of wheels and tires optimized for cold weather driving. According to Ford this is the first time an original equipment manufacturer has made a winter tire option available in North America.
“We started this project knowing what our RS customers really want out of their cars,” said Adam Wirth, chassis supervisor, Ford Performance. “This tire package allows RS owners to continue spirited driving even in the snow.”
Ford Performance developed an optional winter tire package so Focus owners can outfit their car with optimum equipment for winter conditions. Normal vehicle testing procedures, however, require certification with production wheels and tires. According to Ford, winter-only tire performance standards do not exist. To bring this package to owners, Ford Performance had to create a unique set of standards specifically suited for winter conditions.
According to Ford, the new standards were tested in extreme cold and snow in Michigan and Sweden. Engineers tested a variety of winter tire and wheel setups to determine the optimum combination for ride, handling and performance in various wintry conditions.
Michelin Pilot Alpin
The winter tire package consists of 225/40R18 Michelin Pilot Alpin PA4 tires mounted to a new 18×7.5-inch wheel, which looks very similar to the base Focus RS option, but is finished in sparkle silver to hide salt spray. The wheel and tire are narrower, to provide improved snow traction, while the overall diameter is smaller, so owners can fit tire chains if necessary.The set includes tire pressure monitoring sensors and center caps fully mounted and balanced and ready for installation at the dealer.
Why winter tires?
Traditional all-season tires are a compromise because they are formulated to handle all road conditions – hot weather, cold weather, dry roads, wet roads, mud and snow. The tread compound of all-season tires is harder than winter tires, so traction is reduced when road surface temperatures drop. High performance tires experience a noticeable drop in traction in cold weather. Winter tires are formulated specifically to perform in winter conditions – freezing temperatures, ice, and snow. Winter tires use softer rubber compounds that are optimized for the cold, and this gives them improved traction and braking performance.
Ford says the Focus RS Winter Wheel & Tire Package will be available only in North America – a $1,995 option. In Canada, the package comes standard on Focus RS. The Focus RS is scheduled to arrive at dealerships in North America this spring.