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Car and Driver: 2016 Ford Focus RS to Offer Factory Winter Tire Option, Canadians Get It Standard

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We’re willing to give Ford a pass for the somewhat vague—and dubious—claim that the factory winter-tire option it’s rolling out on the 2016 Focus RS is a North American “first,” because offering winter tires directly to customers seems to us a great way to get more folks to buy into winter tires. We’ve long spouted off about the benefits of winter tires, which offer drastically improved grip in snow, ice, and even on dry pavement when the mercury drops below 45 degrees Fahrenheit, and it’s neat to see a mainstream automaker like Ford put a fully mounted and balanced (on factory wheels, no less) winter-tire option right on the Focus RS’s order sheet.


The option costs $1995 and includes a set of aluminum wheels that look nearly the same as the RS’s standard 19-inch wheels but are slightly narrower and one-inch smaller in diameter. As Ford rightly points out, the winter wheels’ light color should hide the sort of seasonal grime that would have the RS’s stock, dark-gray wheels looking ratty after about five minutes in a Michigan winter. These sharp-looking rims are wrapped in 225/40R-18 Michelin Pilot Alpin PA4 winter tires, and the whole shebang arrives balanced and fitted with tire-pressure sensors. The set arrives in addition to the RS’s standard 19-inch wheels and summer tires—as in, one can swap between the two as the seasons change. In more-enlightened Canada, where in some places winter tires are legally required during colder months, the set comes standard.




This idea isn’t entirely new; after all, individual dealers—typically in Snowbelt states—have for years offered winter tires to their customers. (Also, we fitted this new winter-tire kit to a hypothetical Focus RS we built on Ford’s configurator not too long ago, only now we have more details about it!) What is relatively new is the “factory” element, as in, Ford itself is selling customers a ready-to-go winter-tire set through any dealer. How you take Ford’s claim that it is the “first” to do this in North America could depend on your definition of a “factory” option. Ford says the RS’s winter-tire kit is the first “check-the-box winter tire option available in North America.” Except Tesla Motors offers customers the choice of a ready-to-go winter-tire-and-wheel option on the Model S’s order sheet and (until recently) on its online vehicle configurator, just as Ford is doing with the RS. Audi has a nearly identical program available to all of its customers regardless of their dealership, which we had spotted on its online configurator as recently as a few months ago but is nonetheless offered as a factory accessory that could be rolled into one’s final purchase if so desired. And just recently, Fiat-Chrysler unveiled an expansive cache of winter-tire-and-wheel kits that customers can order from any dealer via the Mopar parts catalog. Perhaps Ford means the option is the first of its kind on a Ford?


New or not, we still applaud Ford’s decision to offer its customers a one-stop-shop winter-tire option. After all, anyone can go to a tire store or Tire Rack and assemble a similar package on non-factory wheels for their own ride, but don’t those factory rims look fresh?




On a more serious note, it’s pertinent for builders of performance-oriented cars to offer such winter-tire kits, thus allowing for a maximum-performance tire and winter-weather capability. After all, Ford just last year relented and started offering Focus ST customers a cheap all-season-tire option to replace the standard summers, as too many Northern types were miffed over the ST’s lack of winter traction.


We’ll keep beating the winter-tire drum, but dealerships raising the idea of winter tires to more customers certainly helps further the cause. Plus, it’d be a shame to park a Focus RS during the winter, since its high-tech torque-vectoring all-wheel-drive system should make the car ridiculously fun in slippery conditions.




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