Relentlessly pushing things forwards with his tuned 1000bhp Mk2 Focus RS for the entire time he’s owned it, Steve Johns is now left with a 1000+bhp hyper-hatch that’s single-handedly re-writing the rulebook…
Remember when the Mk1 Focus RS came out back in 2002? Remember how its combination of 212bhp and front-wheel drive was enough for many who reviewed it to confidently state this was the sheer limit of what this kind of car could physically take, introducing a whole new generation to the phrase ‘torque steer’ in the process?
If only they could’ve seen just how times would move on in the seventeen-odd years that would follow, with the introduction of the 300bhp Mk2 RS shortly after that promptly paved the way for some of the most monstrous FWD builds the world has ever seen, each pushing the envelope even further than the last.
And all of this escalation arguably culminates right now with this rather unassuming pearl white Focus here that’s normally found tucked away in its garage in South Wales. Owned by Steve Johns for the past eight-or-so years, it’s gone on one hell of a journey in the time he’s been fettling with it to now officially stand as one of the most powerful Mk2 RSs to grace this entire country, if not the planet…
Those with a particular loyalty to the Ford scene might actually already recognise Steve’s mighty machine, as it was featured in our sister mag Fast Ford, about five years ago. If so, you’ll remember the story of how the Focus was snapped up back in 2011 as Steve was itching to get back into the performance car game following the recent sale of his beloved Subaru Impreza and Renault Clio V6.
With the seal of approval from various pals who all loved the Mk2’s crazy styling even in factory trim, the hot hatch soon took pride of place on the driveway over the other cars that made an appearance on the shortlist such as a BMW M3.
Steve initially promised himself the RS would remain in a nigh-on standard spec as it flawlessly performed its daily duties, but, as so many of us will be able to relate to, things didn’t stay that way for long; the car ultimately ending up in a seriously impressive, 460bhp state of tune (with plenty of interior and exterior styling goodies to match) by the time it last graced the pages of a publication.
But if it’s already had a feature before, why are we putting Steve’s Focus back under the microscope? Well, as it turns out, that initial 460bhp tune really was only the tip of the Frozen White iceberg; the story only getting more and more bonkers as time went on, as Steve best explains. “The car was running around 580bhp soon after its last feature, thanks to an even bigger turbo and some better fuelling bits making an appearance,” he recalls. “I still wasn’t happy though and was looking for someone to take things to the next level when I was recommended to chat to Lee at Devil Developments…”
Known for his world-class knowledge of eking every last drop of safe performance from this boosted five-pot engine, especially when it involves bespoke Syvecs ECU maps, Lee seemed certain that he could help upon his first chat with Steve, prompting the first of many visits to this West Sussex workshop.
This pattern continued as over time, Steve’s Focus became something of a flagship demonstration vehicle for just what Devil Developments could do, to the extent that the car was tuned to ensure it was the most powerful of its kind to attend the Ford Fair show for three years on the trot. Soon boasting a 6466-sized Precision blower that meant 849bhp was rippling through its muscular skin, Steve could be found once again leaving Lee’s premises with his mind already swimming with thoughts on whether it was possible to boldly crack the 1000bhp figure where so few had gone before him…
Before this wild idea materialised into anything solid, however, Steve’s life was tragically flipped on its head as his business partner and best mate became seriously ill, with Steve’s time suddenly drawn between juggling the entire business alone and providing a support network to his best friend at such a devastating time.
“He unfortunately passed away not long after, which kind of spurred me on to get my hands stuck in with my car once more,” Steve emotionally explains. “Hitting 1000bhp is what he would’ve wanted.” With that in mind, it brings us to the start of 2018, with Lee and the Devil Developments team looking towards that year’s Ford Fair and giving Steve’s block and head a full tear-down and re-build in anticipation of what was to come next.
With oversized Wiseco pistons and con rods making an appearance, as well as a new factory crankshaft (which seems to take remarkably well to big-power applications as long as you’re not too brutal in your driving style) and a fully ported and flowed big-valve head, the five-banger now has a frankly massive Precision PT6870 turbo tucked away behind it on a Nortec tubular manifold, with Devil’s bespoke twin Nissan GT-R fuel pump upgrade and whopping 2000cc injectors also featuring.
With the gearbox also re-built and housing a much sturdier clutch, Lee soon got down to business mapping that Syvecs ECU to perform its very best when potent E80 race fuel was added into the equation. And the end result of all this hard work? 1036bhp and 788.2lb/ft of torque at 2.6bar of boost – figures that would seem absurdly impressive from any car, especially a FWD Focus!
Despite the fact it’s also wearing huge K-Sport stoppers, a raft of suspension upgrades and the stickiest of rubber to help matters, we know exactly what you’re thinking: how on earth do the front wheels cope with 1000bhp? “A lot of people wonder what the point of it all is, but the traction control on the Syvecs system is so clever and limits the torque in the lower gears, meaning it’s actually a lot easier to drive than you might imagine,” a proud Steve explains. “It’s crazy fast and makes insane noises from that screamer pipe too… it’s absolutely nuts!”
What makes the whole story that little bit more impressive is the way that Steve has unconventionally resisted the temptation to go for the functional stripped-‘n’-caged look that so many other big-power cars run these days, instead keeping that comfortable, plush and usable vibe that he started out with in the early days of ownership. As a result, it’s a machine he uses a whole lot more than you might think, and you certainly can’t argue with that, can you?
By keeping a level head and ensuring the usability and drivability aspects were never put in jeopardy, Steve’s story is the perfect illustration of how chasing huge power figures can indeed be done properly and enjoyably. We’d just love to see the faces of those who thought 200bhp was too much for the front wheels when they saw this brute.
TECH SPEC: TUNED 1000BHP MK2 FOCUS RS
2521cc 20v turbocharged 5-cylinder Duratec RS engine, Devil Developments fully forged and rebuilt block (featuring 9.1:1 Wiseco oversized pistons and con rods with factory crankshaft), Devil Developments ported and flowed big-valve head (featuring enlarged valves and stage 3 camshafts), Precision PT6870 Gen II ball-bearing turbocharger, Nortec tubular turbo manifold, custom screamer pipe, custom Anembo inlet manifold, custom 80mm throttle body, custom enlarged alloy boost pipe kit, Airtec intercooler, WRC oil breather, Airtec oil cooler and radiator, custom 4in exhaust system with twin 4.5in tailpipes, 2000cc fuel injectors, custom Devil Developments twin Nissan GT-R in-tank fuel pump conversion, uprated fuel lines, 90mm Syvecs crossover pipe, Cosworth Group A filter, Spec-R water tank and power steering rack, full black silicone hose kit, Syvecs ECU conversion with bespoke Devil Developments mapping (running E80 fuelling)
1036bhp and 788.2b/ft of torque @ 2.6bar of boost
Devil Developments fully re-built factory six-speed manual gearbox with LSD, Xtreme twin carbon rigid blade clutch, Elevate torque link
BC Racing coilovers with custom springs, Whiteline anti-roll bars, JWR front strut brace, Powerflex bushes
K-Sport 8-pot calipers and 356mm discs (front), K-Sport 4-pot calipers and 330mm discs (rear), EBC Ultimax pads
WHEELS & TYRES
9.5x19in (front) and 10.5x19in (rear) MMR GF7 alloy wheels with custom diamond-cut spokes, 235/35×19 (front) and 265/30×19 (rear) Michelin Pilot Super Sport tyres
Full custom pearl white re-spray with gloss black roof, rolled wheel arches, Maxton Designs front, side and rear splitters, rear spoiler splitter, custom Monkey Wrench headlights and fog lights, Pro LED rear lights, de-badged and relocated bonnet pull, gloss black plastics and vents, FA57 FRS (‘FAST FRS’) number plate
Custom black-and-white leather interior, re-trimmed diamond-stitched heated front seats with carbon-dipped backs and side covers, custom rear centre drinks holder, armrest with stitched ‘RS’ logo and build number, custom floor mats, blue LED light kit, MOMO snap-off steering wheel, carbon fibre kick plates,
ICE install comprising of full sound deadening and Huets custom boot build, Kenwood touchscreen headunit, Audison Voce 5.1k amplifier, Audison Voce AV due amplifier, twin Audison Voce AV10 sub woofers, Audison Voce AV 6in speakers, Audison Voce AV 6.5in speakers, Pro Series 3600-watt amplifier wiring
“Lee at Devil Developments, Dayne at Touch of Class, Andrew at AWL Body Repair, Alan at Auto Specialists – www.autospecialists.co.uk, and Jason at JW Racing”
Words Sam Preston Photography AS Design. Don’t forget to subscribe to Fast Car magazine!