“With the power taken care of, my attention soon turned to sporting out the look. And the first thing that was ruining things was the stock wheels – they really are rubbish!” – Jamie King // Fast Ford Magazine
But I didn’t add the expensive forged options, mainly because I knew everyone else had (I don’t think I’ve seen another Mk3 RS at a show or event on the ‘standard’ wheels), and I knew I would want to change them for something better.
In fact, I always knew which wheels I wanted to fit, long before I took delivery of the car – Revo’s RV019.
“The RV019 wheel is lighter than Ford’s own ‘lightweight’ forged option; and looks better too.”
The 19in wheel is actually lighter than Ford’s own ‘lightweight’ forged option, and I think it looks better too. So as soon as the car had arrived, I was straight on the phone to Revo ordering a new set, in gloss Anthracite.
I originally thought about gloss black, but I now think you loose some of the detail of the wheel in black, whereas the anthracite is dark enough to still be mean and moody but without hiding the wheel completely, or making it look too small for the car (which can often happen with black wheels).
As the RV019s are the same size as the original wheels I could have simply robbed the old tyres from the standard alloys, but I like the idea of having a spare set of wheels and tyres and didn’t want too much faffing around when it came time to fit everything.
So, instead, I ordered a new set of Falken’s new UHP (ultra high performance) tyres, the Azenus FK510. With excellent wet weather performance (A rated), low road noise (69dB), and fantastic grip under dry conditions it really is a great tyre.
And costing less than £100 each they offer great value – I couldn’t find any other tyre that offered the same level of performance for the same sort of money. Even the OE-fit Michelins are rated louder (71dB) with the same performance ratings (A-wet, E- fuel economy) and cost over £150 each!
“Like all modern cars, the RS comes out of the factory looking like it’s on stilts!”
But before I could fit the new wheels and tyres, I was desperate to address another issue I think all Mk3 RS’s need looking at – the ride height. Like all modern cars, the RS comes out of the factory looking like it’s on stilts! Yes, it handles brilliantly, but it just looks so uninspiring with a three-inch arch gap!
Thankfully there are few kits available now to lower the RS while still retaining the clever adjustable dampers, but the best in my opinion in the offering from Pumaspeed.
The Pumaspeed springs are actually made by Eibach, and I’ve have nothing but positive results from any of their spring kits in the past (The Fiesta runs on Eibachs too!) but are made to Pumaspeed’s own requirements.
This means they offer a little extra lowering at the back end of the car, with a 25-30mm drop all round rather than a rake towards a slightly lower front/higher rear. I don’t think the nose-down stance suits the RS particularly well (I love it on an American drag car, but no so much on a hot hatch!) so I called Pumaspeed and soon had a set of these on their way too. I even opted for the ‘nitrous blue’ finish to match the calipers too.
“I knew the lower ride height and new wheels would make a difference but even I was shocked.”
Armed with a box of goodies I then booked in to have everything fitted at my local Ford dealers, Tarnock Garage. I knew the lower ride height and new wheels would make a difference but even I was shocked at how much of a transformation had taken place! I love it!
The wheels really suit the car, especially with lower, meaner, and harder-looking ride height. And behind the wheel, it’s even better. I mean, the RS is a fantastic handling car in stock form, but the lower centre of gravity is something you immediately notice. It just feels even more surefooted than before and encourages you to press on even harder.
The ride comfort remains unaffected, and if anything, the car is now more bearable when you switch the dampers to Sport mode.
As standard, the Sport dampers are pretty much unusable on the road – I’m sure they’re great on a track but are way too severe for regular road use.
However with the Pumaspeed springs fitted things are more bearable – I’d still recommend saving Sport mode for the track, but you can get away with using it on the road if you wanted to.